?rel=me ?rel=author ?rel=really, Google?

rel=author rel=me authorship markup?rel=me and ?rel=author has left some of us asking, rel=wtf? This should be easier as my solution in the final paragraph reveals.

For authors who write blogs, articles or just have plain old websites, understanding these tags and their association to a Google Plus profile can be confusing to say the least. In my attempt toward comprehension, it seemed every lesson had slightly different variations on the same theme, sort of like the Gospel’s account of Christ’s life but on a smaller scale. Even watching top brass, Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson, explain in a 10-minute low budget whiteboard video presentation–there seems to be something… uh, lacking. Hey Othar, I need a telescope and a degree in handwriting to read your scribbles. (And I thought my videos were lame.)

For sites and blogs with single authors, it’s extremely important to jump through the rel=author hoop for verifying webpages to your Google Plus profile page. The tag, rel=author, defines authorship. Okay, so what’s in it for me, you might ask? Answer: your photo may get listed next to the search results of your page, may being the operative word. Aha, that’s what this is all about: getting your smiling mug on page one so surfers will click your link!

This tag can feel elusive especially since Google seems to continually tweak their instructions on how to make it, but it simply means that anyone who is a contributor to a website or blog and also has a Google Plus profile can follow a few steps to make Google aware of the connection. Since they’re the king of global internet search, as soon as I learned of this feature I raced to all of my sites and added the ?rel=author code (though not correctly the first time).

How do rel=me and rel=author tags get inserted? There are actually a few ways to accomplish the connection and then one main way to check that it’s working. The first thing you’ll need to do is create a Google Plus account with a recognizable face shot as your main profile image. Sorry, no dogs, family reunions or animations for the main profile photo.

contributor to Google Plus profileOn your Google Plus profile page (click your name from the home page), you can Edit to insert information about yourself, upload photos/video, as well as add URL links for websites and other social media profiles. When Editing, notice the section that says Contributor To where you can add the URL for all of your websites and blogs. It’s most common to use the “About me” page of your sites, or you could use the Home page. For newbies, I recommend copying and pasting the URL from another browser tab to confirm the URL is spelled correctly. Once that is done, you need to go to the corresponding “About me” or Home page of your websites/blogs and input your Google Plus profile URL followed by the tag, ?rel=author. For example, my G+ profile URL is https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/ so when I add the rel=author tag, my G+ profile link could be any of the following and even a few more variations:



Notice if you click on either of the latter links they direct you to the same G+ page, https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/.

These tags can go anywhere on the site that is crawled, even invisibly to visitors like in the <head> section:

<link rel=”author”



Of course, in all of the above examples you’ll need to substitute your profile number and profile name where I have inserted mine.

This rel=author tag can be added to the <head> section, or a sidebar widget (like a G+ badge) or to signature text, or to the footer, pretty much anywhere. My form of overkill was to add some everywhere just to be on the safe side. All that really matters is the “Contributor To” links point from your Google Plus Profile page to your websites, and the rel=author tags from your sites point back to your Google Profile page. That’s how Google sees the connection and verifies that you are both the webmaster and person behind the Google Plus profile.

Next you can check your work to see if the link is being recognized by Google by visiting the Rich Snippets Testing Toolhttp://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets. Enter the URL address and click the Preview button. If you see your profile photo and a green line that says, “Verified: Authorship markup is verified for this page,” then you’ve got it and it should appear as this image below. If not, you can redo the previous steps or try some other methods.

Now, what about this rel=me business? Fortunately, all 10 of my sites were verified (I’ll explain below) without even adding rel=me, so this tag still feels elusive and delivers some of the more varied explanations by the experts. (However, rel=me has been around for quite some time as an element of XFN, which is a solution for identity consolidation.) From the consensus, rel=me seems most important for people who contribute to websites but are not the sole contributors to the sites, or for active bloggers who post with the rel=me tag that points to their “About me” page which points to Google Profile page. Confused? Perfect, you must be paying attention.

The ?rel=me tag can be used from any article and ultimately points back to the Google Plus Profile even if indirectly. If you post an article on another site and have an “author bio” on that site, your post can contain a rel=author tag that links to your “author bio” page that links with rel=me back to your Google Plus Profile (as in <a rel=”me” href=”https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/”&gt;). Hence Google sees the connection has been made. Good for bloggers who write multiple posts pointing to their own “About me” page or writers who moonlight and have an “author bio” page at someone else’s site. Still confused? It’s okay; I was too. Support for this from Google can be found here – http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1229920.

Google has recently added an email version to verify for those of us who still don’t quite get it:

Sign in to your Google profile.

Click Edit profile.

On the right-hand side, click the Contributor to box, and add all the sites you write for.

Next, click the Work box.

Click the New contact info box (the last in the list, and type the email address you use for the sites you write for.

In the list to the left of the email address you just added, click Email.

Click Save, and then click Done editing.

Repeat for every email address you want to add.

On your profile, click Verify next to the email address you just added.

Once you’ve finished and also Verified Authorship Markup with the Rich Snippets Testing Tool, fill out this form to complete the procedure – https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHdCLVRwcTlvOWFKQXhNbEgtbE10QVE6MQ&ndplr=1.

In my opinion, this could be a whole lot easier because Google has long perfected the method of verifying that we are webmasters of our sites by simply giving us a unique ID to insert in the site with either meta data or html code and then click the verify button at Webmaster Central. Boom, done, it proves we’re the webmaster. Couldn’t this be how they do our “Contributor To” option? Google could simply generate a long and unique ID number for our Google Plus “Contributor To” page. Then we could simply add that unique ID (or hyperlink to it for invisibility sake) to any article, blog post or website that we contribute to and tah-dah. If our “Contributor To” ID is unique, and since we’re the only ones who can Edit that section for adding the sites that we contribute to… then anywhere we put that ID and also add the site to our “Contributor List” would solve this problem. My solution is similar to what they’re doing, just with a few less steps involved, namely eliminating the need for both rel=author and rel=me. Hopefully this solution would also eliminate a lot of rel=wtf?

What are your thoughts?

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Got Blog SEO? Make Google, Yahoo and Bing Love You

blog seoBlog SEO, do you have it? Do you think about SEO for blogs whenever you make a post? If not, you’re likely missing out on a ton of potential internet traffic over time. This is EASY to do, plus valuable info for Indie authors and anyone marketing themselves online.

Seems like everyone has a blog these days, and rightfully so since it’s the best way for perfect strangers from all over the world to find you and your products/ebooks/etc. What percentage of owners really know how to utilize SEO (search engine optimization) to their benefit? Probably not many as there are so many companies charging arms and legs to help small website owners do a better job attracting Google, Yahoo and Bing, and thus all those perfect strangers. They’ve contacted you, right? The companies charging arms and legs to do this for you? Seems like a daily thing for me, we can help your website get more exposure with our proven SEO tips… Oh brother, just another form of spam.

Way, way back in the old days of the internet (a few years ago), that would have been tempting. During my first posts at another blogging site, the phrase stumbling around in the dark was a good way to describe my methods. Blogging was still a new entity and I really had no idea what I was doing. My concept was to get something about my books, anything really, out on the internet. Yes, the posts were always on my subjects of interest, but really it was just about saying something so my voice was happily among the zillions of others speaking to nobody in particular over cyberspace.

Fortunately those days are over. Why? Because the blog SEO secret has revealed itself to me. Now I understand gads more about SEO for blogs and how to say something that will get heard by readers and by, ta-da, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. It’s a little secret, EASY to do, known by some and not known by many, that will make a huge difference in traffic over time. Here’s what to do before you blog on any subject.

Step 1 – Make a list of potential keywords and phrases that describe your post and what some perfect stranger might potentially type into a search engine. This is where the magic happens. This is the step that separates the wise blogger from the not-so-wise. If you don’t have great keywords targeted to relevant customers, you may as well be blogging offline.

seo for blogsFor example, let’s say your specialty is writing novels based on spiritual subjects, and your blog post is about those novels. What are the terms that come to mind, the terms which will get used in the blog heading, the text body and perhaps some images that accompany the post? Spiritual books, spiritual novels, new age books, and new age novels, are a very short list of examples for some terms that describe your subject matter. These all seem like good choices. Could whichever one you choose really make a big difference? The answer will surprise you.

Step 2 – Research those keywords on your list. Google has a great and free program called Keyword Tool External. This is a must, in my opinion, no matter what you’re doing online, whether it’s making a blog post, creating a new website or even coming up with a title for your book. This program will allow you to type in these individual keywords or phrases and get results on which ones are being searched the most and how much competition they have from other advertisers. Ideally, you can zero in on keywords with the maximum number of searches that don’t have high competition from advertisers. Ideally, the right keywords will help thousands of people from all over the world to find you.

Back to our example. Keyword tool external shows these results in Global Monthly Searches and Level of Competition for our search terms:

Spiritual books – 27,100 Global Monthly Searches, average Competition.

Spiritual novels – 3,600 Global Monthly Searches, low Competition.

New age books – 8,100 Global Monthly Searches, low-average Competition.

New age novels – 320 Global Monthly Searches, low Competition.

Metaphysical books – 5,400 Global Monthly Searches, low-average Competition.

This list could be much longer with ideas, but these few are enough to point out how slight variations in wording can result in huge differences in amount of people searching. Even though “novels” is a bit more descriptive than “books,” it seems like a no-brainer to choose “books” in the description than “novels” and to choose “spiritual” followed by “new age” and lastly, “metaphysical” or something like it.

You can play around with the parameters of the Keyword Tool External program and even peruse suggestions that Google will list for you in the results.

Step 3 – Insert the chosen keywords tastefully into everything you write. Put them in your blog’s headline, in the text body, in the categories/labels/tags, even in alternative text for any images you may use to accompany the post. The word tastefully comes to mind as opposed to keyword stuffing, which is overusing them and can get you into trouble with some search engines. Use your keywords without overusing them, keep the reading pleasant. Once in the heading, once in varied ways in categories/labels/tags, once in alternative text and a few times in the text body.

Step 4 – In the future, you should often check which terms people have used to find your blog, assuming the blog host keeps stats for that. Test out those terms by typing the keywords into a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. Scroll through the list until your blog entry comes up, then click on that entry and click on some other links within it. That tells the search engines your listing has quality content which made the searchers happy. If you can do this from locations other than your own home, like when traveling, all the better.

This little tip will work wonders over time.

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SlingWords Post – Indie Authors: Better Keywords Sell More Books

I was honored to be guest poster today on a great blog called SlingWords. You can read the brief post (500 words) on learning to use keywords more wisely, especially designed for Indie authors who want to sell ebooks.


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Smart Keyword Research Comes First

Excerpt from the book, Get On Google Front Page

keyword researchKeywords are essential to help search engines link your sites and books to certain words, terms or phrases. Keywords can be individual words like “diet” or “weight loss,” a set of words like “healthy weight loss,” or even phrases containing many words such as “eat all you want and still lose weight.” This is also the difference between short-tail and long-tail keywords, or the difference between targeting broad markets under heavy competition with other advertisers versus niche markets with less competition. It’s best to add keywords (both short-tail and long) to every site, blog, URL, title, article and location that has boxes for them, keywords that describe the content of what your site is about. But before we get into the details of how and where to insert keywords, we’re going to discuss at length how to discover which are your very best keywords.

Your very best keywords describe your website (and book’s) content and are being searched by lots of people with relatively low competition.

Okay, that was a mouthful but true. Certain keywords will only help if people are actually searching for them, and your site is relevant to that subject, and (hopefully) there is not a ton of competition. If the competition is low, then you’re golden and the climb to the front page can be quick. If the competition is high, you can still get to the top but it will take great SEO habits and more time.

Read the free Authonomy chapter here on this subject.

Read the first several chapters of this book’s free sample.

Get On Google Front PageAmazon US paperback and ebookPDF version handy with links for your computer

Amazon UK paperbackUK ebook

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#SellEbooks Twitter Hash-Tag

twitter bird hash tagsFor writers who want to sell ebooks, it comes as no surprise that social media is a helpful, if not mandatory, tool for self-promotion. I believe Facebook to be fairly straightforward to learn by anyone while Twitter is an often misunderstood entity. In all honesty, I don’t use Twitter anywhere near its potential which is something that needs to be addressed.

In a small effort, I’ve just started a Twitter hash tag for #sellebooks or #SellEbooks. The case isn’t sensitive to search engines, but it does help people recognize the words.

For those unfamiliar with hash tags, they are used to designate a category that can easily be searched and found by others interested in updates. Reportedly, the whole revolution began in 2007 with reports of the San Diego fire by someone adding the phrase #sandiegofire to their Twitter posts. Word spread that was the way to get updates and share updates on the event, and the phenomenon grew from there.

Twitter doesn’t regulate the hash tag community. Because Twitter’s search engine sees everything as individual words (or symbols), the phrase March Madness compared to #marchmadness will result in entirely different results depending on the phrasing of the search. Because the Twitter community is now thoroughly aware of hash tags for finding specific Tweets, it’s just a wise thing to do.

Anyway, if you’re into this whole ebook business, self-publishing, Indie author thing… please use #SellEbooks to accompany any Tweets that have to do with those subjects. It could start a forum of like-minded people as well as help your own self-promotion.

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