Using Google Authorship to your Advantage

 

UPDATE: In 2014 Google closed the book on the Authorship. Learn more here. 

Ever notice when you search a topic on Google a few of the results include a picture of the author? Those results include Google Authorship markup, a special code you use to link your site to your Google plus profile.  Google authorship tells Google that, like in the example below, a real person named Sue Reynolds created this article on Tending your Social Media Garden. While authorship markup came about shortly after Google Plus launched in 2011, it’s been back in the news again with the speculation around Author Rank. Understand that Authorship and Author Rank are not the same thing.  Author Rank is a possible change to Google’s algorithm that includes authorship markup. It may or may not ever happen. But even if there’s no bump in the search algorithm right now, Google Authorship still helps your content stand out in search results.

Here’s what Google Authorship looks like in the search engine results page. See what I mean? Most people are more likely to click on the link with the picture. So let’s go through the basics of setting this up on your site.

Using Google Authorship Markup

Google Authorship

How to set up Google Authorship Markup

There are several ways to link the content you produce to your Google Plus profile. First make sure your Google Plus profile includes a clear headshot.  Second, link your profile using one of these methods:

1. Use a verified email address to link your Google Plus profile to your content.

2. Add the “rel=author” parameter with your Google Plus profile ID to a link from your website.  Here’s how:

  • Create a link to your Google Plus profile from your webpage with the rel=author tag, like this: <a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Your Google Plus Profile</a>
  • Replace [profile_url] with the your Google Plus profile ID <a href=”https: //plus.google.com/yourIDnumber?rel=author”> Your link must contain the ?rel=author parameter.
  • Now go to your Google Plus profile and add a link back to the site(s) you just updated.
  • Edit the Contributor To section and add a custom link to your URL.
  • Test the connection with the structured data testing tool.

Understand that it is not possible to link a Google Plus business page with authorship markup, just a profile. So if you’re thinking of using this for your business you’ll need to decide who is the branded author and use their personal profile. If you don’t have a Google Plus profile, now’s the time to create one so you can use the feature. In fact, Google Plus has other useful features, like Google Hangouts on Air, which is a free video production tool that streams your content directly to your YouTube channel. If you decide to do a Google Hangout on Air, you might want to check out how to promote Google Hangouts on Air too.

Hmm. So there are reasons to use Google’s social network.

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Protecting your WordPress Website from Hackers

Hackers

Image courtesy of José Goulão on Flickr

Since WordPress now powers more than 20% of the world’s websites the platform has become an increasing target for attacks. While WordPress is still a stable and secure platform there are folks out there looking for ways to exploit the open source nature of the code and cause problems for site owners. Some common attacks are SQL injection (typically using a contact form to exploit) and the recent widespread Brute Force attack. Many of the sites I manage for my clients were built using WordPress software and I’m doing my best to be vigilant about their security. If you’re managing the security on your own site, here’s what I recommend.

Keep your WordPress version and Plug Ins Updated

One of the ways hackers can attack your site is through known vulnerabilities in the code. WordPress and plug in developers release new versions of their software to address these vulnerabilities, but those new versions won’t work if you don’t install them. Make it a habit to update your software on a regular basis, or contract with your site administrator to do so.

Keep your User Names and Passwords Secure

The recent Brute Force attack on WordPress websites targeted accounts with the user name of Admin. One of my clients’ hosting provider, Hostgator, offers an extensive blog on the Brute Force attack and how to protect your wp-login.php files. Best advice, don’t use “admin” as your user name and if you are, change it. Here’s the full techy version of their WordPress Login Brute Force attack blog post.

Install WordPress Security Plug Ins

Security is all about layers, so it’s helpful to install more than one plug in if you find your site being compromised. Wordfence comes highly recommended and gives users a real time look at log in attempts. antivirus scanning, malicious URL scanning and is multi-site compatible.  BulletProof is another popular security plug in that offers .htaccess security. For the non technical, this is a first line of defense against malicious attacks.

Scan your Site for Malware

If you’re curious about whether your site is clean, the online security company Sucuri has a free scanning tool that is accurate and fast. If you do find that your site is infected they will clean it for you through their subscription service. I’ve had very good luck using them in the past and found them fast and accurate. If you don’t feel like searching for malicious code inside your site, they’ll do it for you.

Getting Un-Blacklisted

If you do find that your site is infected and Google has blacklisted you or at least put an alert on your search engine results attend to the problem as soon as you can. Get your site cleaned up using any of the above resources. Then ask Google to reconsider your page and remove the block. You can request the site be inspected through your Google Webmaster Tools account.

Have you been affected by any of the recent attacks? How have you handled security on your WordPress site?

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