How Christian Publishers Can Increase Visibility with Rich Snippets

If you pay any attention to the news in the SEO industry there has been a lot of talk lately around this concept of “Author Rank”.  To boil it down, it seems to be a concept that Google is testing where it not only ranks web pages against each other in the classic sense, but also ranks authors as part of the mix.  The web is made up of billions of pages of content that was written by individual authors.   Google is quickly moving towards a system that gives preferential treatment in the search engine results to authors that are correctly identifying themselves with proper markup and accurate profiles.

More on Author Rank in another post…

A Very Simple Trick

Today, I just want to draw your attention to a very simple trick that allows you to display author information right in the search results in Google.  Here’s an example:

Rich Snippets for Christian Publishers

Notice the image and links to my profile on GooglePlus?  This is called a “Rich Snippet”.  Google is pulling extra information from the page where it was written.  These types of listings really stand out in the search engine results pages.  Studies have shown that they can increase click through rate by 20-30%!  And… they look really cool!

Why are no Pastors or Christian Publishers doing this??

As I started writing this post, I spent about an hour looking for some popular Pastors and websites that are using proper author markup.  It’s definitely no secret so I figured I’d at least find a few… to my surprise, I couldn’t find a single one!  There are some huge missed opportunities here so if you know any of these guys please let them know about this post.  🙂

Here are a few of the sites I found that currently aren’t formatted properly to display rich snippets.  Take a look at what their results look like in the Google:

Examples of Popular Sites Not Using Snippets:

How to Use Rich Snippets

Pretty incredible… some of these articles were shared over a thousand times on social networks and yet they aren’t using any kind of author markup that search engines can read and display.

Down to the nitty gritty.  Here’s how you can get rich snippets in the search results for your content:

3 Simple Steps to Getting Rich Snippets

  1. Get a Google Plus account.  Click Here to get started.  If you already have one you can skip this step.  Make sure you use your exact name in your profile.  It will need to match your author name on your website exactly.
  2. Tell Google that you are the author of your blog/website.  Click here to add your website on your profile.
  3. Add a link to your GooglePlus profile from each blog post or article using your name as the anchor text.  You will also have to add “?rel=author” to the end of the link.

For step 3 you have a couple of options:

Short term solution: You can manually add this on each blog post by adding it to the html anywhere on the page.  It would look like this in the html:

<a href=”</a>Justin Smith</a>

Long term solution: Tell your webmaster that you want this to appear on every blog post you publish automatically.  This is a better long term solution especially for multi-author blogs.  You won’t want every author to have to add unique code to each blog post every time they create a new one.

More Detailed Instructions for Step #3

In order for Google to make the connection, you have to create a link to your GooglePlus profile from each blog post or article.  To create the link, visit the profile page of your Google+ account.  The link should look something like this:  copy that link and then create a new hyperlink from your blog post/article.  The only change you have to make to the link is appending this to the end of it:  “?rel=author”.  Then make sure that the anchor text (linking text) has your exact name that matches your profile.  That’s it!  If you want a live example take a look at the link at the very bottom of this post.  Also, here is an illustration that may help:

Google Plus Author Snippet

So that’s it!  Implement this simple trick on your website and you’ll be seeing your picture and special rich snippet in no time in the search results.

One last thing.  Make sure to test the link to your page to see if it’s works.  Check out Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool Here.

Sharing is Caring

This is the point in the post where I ask you to share this article with your Pastor, Church/Ministry webmaster, creative director, and just about anyone you know that manages a Christian website.  I believe that there are massive opportunities being missed because of a lack of understanding of SEO.  No hidden agenda here.  Just want to be a helpful free resources for Churches and ministries.  Thanks for your support.

Leave a comment if you have any questions or need help implementing what I described above.

Grace & Peace,

Justin Smith


  1. Dan Wadleigh says

    As always Justin an insightful post. Candidly, I can say I’ve been missing out on this opportunity. Maybe it was more my dismissal of G+, but, in the SEO “game” it pays to take care of the Google “details”. As a matter of conversion rate optimization, getting one’s image displayed in the SERP’s seems obvious from both a branding perspective as well as click thru rate. Wish you the best with this project as there seems to be a need for this audience. Well done, looking forward to what you have lined up down the road!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *