Michael Yurechko

SEO, Maker of Web Things

Google Authorship Not Working? The Problem Is Your Face

Update: Since this post was published, Google has stopped showing authorship images in search (Late August, 2014)

Google Authorship not working in search results? You do a quick search for posts you thought were verified but don’t see a photo? Well the problem is probably a simple one. If your site is verified properly then the problem likely lies with your Google Plus photo you’re using.

I had verified my personal site when authorship was first introduced, but never really cared that it didn’t seem to work for me. I went through whole the verification process but shrugged it off when it never showed up in search results. I recently switched up my site’s design and made a few other changes so I thought I’d revisit it and try to get it working.

Double check your Google Authorship verification

The first thing to do is make sure your authorship code is working. I know you’ve probably gone through this and read a few dozen blog posts on how to setup authorship, but lets make sure that Google is picking everything up properly. Head over to the Structured Data Testing Tool and drop in your URL. If it’s working properly you should see something like this:

Google Authorship Verification with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool

Okay. You’ve verified it’s working.. and you waited a couple days but it’s still not showing up? Okay, I think I know the problem…

The Problem is Probably Your Photo

While chatting with my good friend and fellow SEO Analyst, Andy Kuiper, about this, he mentioned that the problem may be with my photo. Google’s social network, Google Plus, launched as basically the ‘verified identity’ social network. You were required to use your real name at sign up, so it doesn’t seem too crazy that Google would require you to use a real photo for Authorship. Verifying the use of a ‘real photo’ isn’t difficult anymore, especially with the extremely accurate face recognition software sites like Facebook & Google+ use.

So I decided to take Andy’s advice and swapped out my photo. Figured it was worth a shot and at worst, it would just up my trust factor having a real photo of myself as the first thing you see on my profile.

Authorship Image Comparison

The problem with the old photo is that my face is completely blocked with a large Canon DSLR – facial recognition software can’t make out any features. After making the change, I noticed authorship working approximately 8 hours later. First by just showing the author byline in search “by Name – in 1,000 Google+ circles” – and then revealing the photo afterwards.

Photo Problems To Watch Out For

If you think you have a good photo but are still having problems, check the list below. These could be the source of your authorship woes.

  • You’re not using a photo of yourself – your profile photo is of your cat/dog/car/favorite sports team’s logo
  • Parts of your face are blocked by things like sunglasses, hat, etc
  • ‘You’ are really a ‘They’ – You have more than one person’s face in your photo
  • Your face is too small in the photo – your face should be easily visible
  • Your face isn’t aligned properly in the photo – you’re off-kilter, get front and center

After making changes it can take a few hours to find out if it worked. I noticed results showing my authorship first – just a simple byline with circle count, followed by the image showing up soon after. If you switch out your photo and it doesn’t start working immediately, give it about 24 hours and then try again with another photo if that didn’t work.