Authorship Markup & Multiple Authors of a Single Article
Authorship markup has become very popular these days as publisher’s seek to gain increased click-through rates from enhanced search engine result entries in Google. There’s one authorship scenario, however, that I haven’t seen adequately addressed in the blogosphere: multiple authors of a single article.
Just in case you’re not familiar with Google’s authorship markup, it’s how publishers are able to generate those thumbnail photos next to individual entries on the search engine result pages. Here’s an example with my first post here on ClickSeed.com:
Not only do the enhanced listing look better, but a number of publishers are finding that the eye-catching appearance of these enhanced listings provides significant increases in click through rates.
As I was helping one of my clients get authorship markup implemented, the question came up, “what happens when there’s more than one author for a single piece of content?” Multiple authorship is actually something that occurs frequently with news and magazine publishers.
Unfortunately Google has not included an option in the standard authorship markup to display multiple authors. Instead, Google will display only the first reference to rel=author found on the page.
Fellow SEO, Terry Simmonds, set up this test page to see what would happen when a single page contains multiple rel=author entries. You can view the output of the page by plugging it into theRich Snippets Tool. Here’s a summary of Terry’s findings:
- Only the first instance of rel=author gets picked up.
- If rel=author code for the first listed author exists, but that author has not included a link back to the publisher site in the “Contributor to” section of the Google+ profile, neither the first nor second instance of the rel=author tag will work.
- The usage of a given Google+ profile and the relevance of content to a given author profile doesn’t seem to make a difference. The first author found in the code is always the one that’s used.
Google Scholar is able to extract multiple author citations from academic articles, so it’s possible this functionality will find its way into the standard authorship markup available to publishers. As Terry indicated to me, just because the additional authorship markup isn’t displayed on the search engine result page doesn’t mean they don’t see it.
Since a multiple-author feature doesn’t appear to be supported at this time for authorship markup, I recommend omitting the markup completely to avoid any unexpected results on a production site.
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