I Don’t Understand Google Authorship…Do You?

A tired woman in front of a laptop

By Terri Lively

I have a confession to make. I cannot understand Google Authorship at all.

I want very much to be that cool writer who is so on top of her content that it is all linked to her Google+ profile, etc. On several attempts, I have tried to set it up for myself. I keep getting to the point where I have verified my email address with the program, which is pretty simple. But then I fall into an abyss of instructions that make no sense whatsoever.

This all started many months ago when the online discussion forum I participate in brought up the subject with all of us fellow content providers. The query was simple, “Do you use Google Authorship?” So I answered yes, not really knowing what it was or how it works. I think at the time I thought it was sharing a post on Google+.

Then as I audited the ensuing discussion from writers who were far more in the know than me, I learned that Google Authorship is something else entirely. The term I just used, something else, has been the sum total of my understanding of the blessed thing to this day.

Now I am no Silent Generation technophobe. I am not some Baby Boomer desperately trying to keep up with technology. I am Generation X, not quite as tech savvy as a Millennial but not too shabby for someone who recently made the trek over the proverbial hill.

In some ways I am a tech pioneer. I programmed a Radio Shack TRS 80 to do a simple math problem in DOS at computer camp:


I owned the turtle program on the Apple IIgs in the sixth grade:

This early work served me well in today’s technology. I built my own website for goodness sakes. If I’m being honest, though, it took me forever to do so. I had real issues with Meta Tags (another concept I have a hard time with) and I used a template provided by my host. Despite these challenges to my technology knowledge, however, I did it!

Once you verify your email address with Google Authorship, however, that’s when it goes sideways for me. Because the next step (if your email isn’t on the page where the post is) is uploading HTML code to your websites and then my eyes begin to cross and panic surges from my belly all the way to my reluctant fingertips. Once moment passes, I think, “No problem. I’ll just Google how to do it.”

That’s how I muddle through everything these days. And I do mean everything. For example:

  • Do you have to bring a broccoli salad to the family potluck this weekend and haven’t the faintest idea what that is or how to make it? No problem, Google the recipe: Broccoli Salad on Allrecipies.com.
  • Did your dishwasher start leaving a salty film all over the dishes? No problem, Google “Salty Film on Dishes” to look for solutions, which is: run the empty dishwasher with a cup of Vinegar.
  • Did someone add the comment to one of your Facebook posts about whether you should use the tandem jump skydiving Groupon your mother-in-law sent you with the ubiquitous acronym “YOLO”? Then Google it so you don’t embarrass yourself later. Fellow oldish farts: It means, “You only live once.

But my go to source, my savior in all things that don’t make any sense to me as I approach official old fart status failed me. I just keep getting this page:

Preview of “Google Authorship”

Look! I can’t even make the PDF of the Google Authorship page for this post look right! That square in the middle is no where on the screen when I make the pdf. It’s like Google Authorship hates me. I am in an endless loop of confusion and frustration with this confounded program. Or is an App? Maybe I should just call it a feature.

In the faint hopes that anyone at Google will ever read this I say, Google Authorship…seriously? You know that we are writers, right? As in high on the verbal side…low on the math side of the SATs? We are not coders, or IT experts, or 24 years old. Please make it a little more clear what this program does and how to make it work without requiring the letters H,T,M, or L.

Chances are the Googlers aren’t going to answer me. So I ask you, writers: Can any of you explain Google Authorship to me? What is it and how do I make it work? I’d appreciate your help in the comments below.

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. She writes for her clients that want to enhance their content. For the past 15 years, she helps create effective marketing materials that communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com or email me at terri@terrilively.com.


5 thoughts on “I Don’t Understand Google Authorship…Do You?

  1. Oh crap. Is this something I need? Because I’m still not sure I’m using Google + right despite attending a magnet school for math and science (and programming my Apple IIe to make a pixellated graphic that looked like a volcano exploding in 6th grade.) I think I’ve finally reached a reasonable level of competency on twitter and WordPress and now there’s more to master?
    OK, Google Authorship. You may get in line behind Scrivener.
    Thanks for making me laugh, Terri! That YOLO one will have me giggling all week.


    • Thanks, Katey. To answer your question…I don’t know! Unfortunately this post is pretty honest. I don’t think it works as well as it used to based on some comments I got from other writers when I posted this on LinkedIn. And as far as Google goes…radio silence!

      I’m glad you laughed. If I had a mission statement, making people laugh would be the main thrust of it!


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