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I want to quickly cover Google+. Google's social networking answer to Facebook. Right or wrongly, Google has got plenty of criticism for this. Google is pulling photographs from Google+ accounts to place into search results. For instance, if we search for some kind of technology search term, such as android ice cream sandwich, we'll find that a number of the search results have pictures next to them, photographs of the authors. These photos help the items to stand out in the search results, may help with a little branding for the authors, and are quite likely to increase click-throughs on the results.
The photographs have been pulled from Google+ accounts. The search results themselves are not pointing to Google+, they're pointing to a variety of location as usual, blogs and websites of various kinds, but when Google realizes that the content linked to by the search results is authored by someone with a Google+ account, it goes to the appropriate Google+ account and grabs the picture. Google+ is in effect, a picture repository for the search results, so to the secret is that you have to associate your work with your Google+ account, so that Google knows where to grab the picture from.
There are a couple of ways to do this. Either way you need to start with a Google+ account. If you don't have one go to Google.com/+ and sign up for an account. Make sure you add a photo of yourself of course; it needs to be a recognizable head shot and pick a good one. Remember your photo may have a significant influence on click-through. Now let's look at the first method for associating the photo in your account with your content. This only works if you have an email address that uses the same domain as the domain on which your writing appears. Let's say you write articles for the New York Times.
If you had an nytimes.com email address, you could use this method. You would go to the URL shown on the screen, login and enter your email address into the box. You'll get a verification email of course to make sure it's a valid address. When you do that, Google will add your email address to your Google+ account profile; that's verifying that your content can be found on that domain. Now all you need to do is make sure that when your articles appear on that domain, you get a byline on the page, up here near the top of the article preferably, and the name in the byline is exactly the same as it appears in your Google+ account.
Of course, this method isn't always possible especially if you work appears on number of different websites. You may not always have an email address on those domains, so there is another method. Go to your Google+ profile and click the Profile button over here, then click Edit Profile and scroll down to the Contributor to line and click on it. Click on Add custom link, then enter the name of the site on which your work appears and the URL of the site. You might want to link directly to your author page if you have one.
Next, you need to add a link to your Google+ profile from your work each time you post an article. The link looks something like this. Notice that you need to get your profile URL. The easiest way to do that is to log into your account and click the profile button and copy the URL. You'll need to remove everything after the number, but notice that when you put it into the link, you'll have question mark rel equals author at the end of the URL, then use your name as the anchor text. Finally, you might want to make sure this is all working using Google's rich snippets test tool. You'll enter the URL of an article page and Google will show you a search result including, with luck, your photo.
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