Google is now recommending that publishers add author URL in article schema to help identify the authors of online news articles. Here’s what you should know.
Google is at it again. The company recently updated its guidance on the author URL property as part of a larger change to the recommended properties that publishers should use in Google search. The new author.url property has been added to the article structured data documentation.
As of this month, Google now suggests adding author URLs in article schema. From the company’s point of view, this change will make it easier to keep track of the correct author when a digital publication has multiple reporters or writers with similar names. It could also help Google keep track of authors who write for multiple publications.
While the author URL property is not new, the recommendation to use it to differentiate between similar author names is a change that Google had not made until now. Prior to August, Google’s algorithm had differentiated between authors with similar names using a process called reconciliation. In reconciliation, Google looked for URLs within author bio pages to differentiate between authors. Now the recommendation has changed, and publishers who hope to continue ranking well in Google search will need to adjust their article schema.
What is the Author URL?
Google’s author URL is a property that digital publishers can add to their articles’ structured markup. The author URL links to a webpage that uniquely identifies the writer, reporter, or author. An author URL property can link to a social media page, an about me page, a biography page, or any other web page that identifies the author by name.
Where to Find the Author URL Property
Author URLs should be visible in your article schema. If you were already using that markup on your website, this new change involves nothing more than adding one more field.
Alternatively, publishers also have the option to add the sameAs property. Google understands both the sameAs property and the author URL when author names are the same or similar.
Best Practices When Adding Author URLs
What kind of URL should your author pages link to? Google doesn’t say for sure, but experts believe that any social media link or a link to the author’s homepage should suffice. As a best practice, online publishers should consider pointing markups to author bio pages on the same domain where the author’s articles are published.
Publishing author bio pages is one of the most direct ways to communicate to Google’s Quality Raters who an author is. The more information you can include about the author, the better.
Pointing author URL markup to an author’s bio page, which then links to the author’s social media profiles, is a recommended best practice. This sends the signal to Google that the author is legitimate and that their content is high-quality. Linking to social media profiles from multiple author bio pages can also help Google differentiate between writers with similar names. This is particularly helpful for reporters who work for two or more online publications. Giving Google a way to identify these authors helps solidify their online footprints. It also increases the likelihood that a reporter’s articles will be used in new article carousels in Google’s new author knowledge panels.
To learn more about Google’s new recommendation, read Google’s updated article structured data help document.