Since Google started showing author photos within search results, author branding has faced a new challenge: Finding a perfect photo.

***Don’t forget to join us on Google Plus Hangout tomorrow!***

How much difference could your photo in search results make:

  • Better click through (if the photo “invites” to click AND / OR if the surfer recognizes you in a photo (see this example of Chris’s clicking my result because he knows me from Twitter))
  • Better branding (The more people see your face in search, the better they know you AND the more your photo stands out, the easier people remember and then recognize you).

Your author’s photo is no longer the matter of your vanity: As an author, you *have* to test your photo until you get better results.


Your author information is pulled from your Google Plus profile whenever you claim the authorship of an article using rel=”author” markup.

Things to remember:

  • In order for Google to pull your profile pic and place it in search results, your profile picture should be your headshot (no logos, cartoons or mosaics are accepted except for a couple of leaked ones you can see now and then. Don’t risk though as those are caught and removed from SERPs pretty fast normally)
  • Unlike the above rule (which is official Google authorship TOS), Google’s stance on various slight gaming variations is unclear. For example, what if a logo is next to my proper headshot (like on my SEOish Twitter profile @annsmarty)
  • You won’t be able to see your mug any time your claimed article pops up in search results. How Google picks articles to display your photo in search results is yet undisclosed and unclear.

Tips and Examples:

Clearly, being given a fun toy like that, authors and marketers started playing! I did a post with some tips on brainstorming a cool author photo using heatmap studies on @smallbiztrends.

First, a little exercise: here are three screenshots of search snippets I got for [“To block or not to block – that is the question” google plus”] search:

(1 – Rupert)

(2 – Jaana)

(3 – Ronnie)

Who would you click (click the image inside the poll to enlarge):

View poll on GoPollGo

I’ve been collecting more fun tips as well. So here’s what I have found (Mind that results will largely depend on your niche but you are the best to know your audience reading your articles!):

  • Turn face towards search results – this should attract more attention to your search snippet (“They look where you are!”)
  • Closeups should be better (better crop to the face; no shoulders)
  • Smile is usually good (may depend on the niche though. Maybe smiling lawyers have trust issues, maybe not)
  • Looking professional may be a good idea (again, may depend on the niche). Citing @RonnieBincer, “I do notice a bit more ‘professional-type’ inquiries since I removed my ‘green santa’s helper’ hat and went for a more ‘professional’ image.
  • Stand out” can be another cool tip. Citing Lyndon NAonce things become “the norm”, being “different” may work better.“: So you may want to play with various frames and forms.

google+ profile image

google+ profile image

Last but not least: Remember it’s not about standing out only: We need conversions (clicking)! Making your face red would make you stand out but will they click your listing or follow you?

Mind that there may be different opinions but think about your goals and target audience:


1. Google Structured Data Tool to test how your face looks next to your URL. Mind: The Google Structured data simply interprets on-page markup. It doesn’t necessarily mean the avatar will make it to SERPs… (it might though)

2. Author stats inside Google Webmaster Tools -> Labs to monitor results after you change your photo.

Your Turn:

Have you done any testing? What’s your strategy?

***Don’t forget to join us on Google Plus Hangout tomorrow!***

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Founder at MyBlogGuest
Ann Smarty is the founder of MyBlogGuest. Feel free to contact her if you have any questions about the platform.

4 Responses to “Is There a Perfect Author Picture? #MyBlogGuest”

  1. Abhishek Raj

    Hi Ann, interesting article 🙂 But won’t you recommend sticking to just one profile pic ? Like you mentioned how Chris immediately recognized your picture in the search results. Had you been keep on changing your G+ profile pictures randomly, he (or anyone else) might have to think – Hey! She might be Ann Smarty or … Not?
    I mean, users/fans are accustomed to our profile pics on various social media channels and changing one frequently might create some confusion. Your views?

    • Ann Smarty

      Abhishek, it depends on how much your current profile pic is branded and also on how much you rely on your own connections (as to compared to finding new ones).

  2. Jonathan Jones

    Can’t seem to get this authorship working. Yet someone who I let guest blog on my blog shows up with the authorship image. :/ It’s a little annoying.

    I’ve tried two different photos to no avail. I guess I’ll have to keep switching the photos up until it works!

    • Ann Smarty

      You again 🙂

      Do you mean your Vlexo blog? Authorship verifies using Rich Snippet tool. Which article of your guest author got the snippet? How long ago did you set up your authorship there?


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