Simple google authorship and avatar plugin

Provides an easy to use interface for site authors to claim google authorship, and use their google profile picture as an avatar.

Main features

  • Users authenticate their google accounts via Oauth protocol and get the required info using the appropriate google API calls.
  • Inserts a <link href=”User’s G+ profile URL” rel=”author”> into the head part of the HTML for any content type created by the user. The existence of the link lets google know that the user is the author of the content and display his picture next to search results.
  • Use the users google profile picture as avatar image in comments and admin

Back story

User authentication via the Oauth protocol eliminates the need for the user to find out what is his google profile URL, and copy&paste it without mistake. An already registered application is used as a proxy for authentication and using the API, and no extra work is involved. For the user, authentication, and gathering the required info, is just one click away.

Once authenticated, anyone who can edit the user’s profile can set it to show or hide authorship and use google picture as avatar.

Network considerations

The plugin will work for any sub site in the network for which it was activated (or if the plugin is network activated).

Any change the user will make to its profile will impact all the sites in the netwrok in which the user had posted or commented.


User still needs to aadd the site to his G+ profile “contributor to”  or “profile” links in order for the google authorship to work.
Only the user can authenticate himself, therefor an admin can not set authorship or avatar instead of the user.
In network usage, sub sites admins can’t edit other users profile therefor they will not have any control and only the super admin will be able to change the settings.

Download it!

Installation/Usage instructions

  1. Follow the usual procedure of installing and activating a plugin
  2. Go to your profile click the “get info” link under the “google profile” section
  3. You will be asked to authenticate yourself to google for a “Identify google user for WordPress” app
  4. Once authenticated you should be redirected back to your profile page and see your google profile image displayed at the \”google profile\” section
  5. Don’t forget to edit the “contributor to” URLs in your google profile to include the site
  6. Ask all authors which are interested in getting authorship to do steps 2-5.

rel=”me” and rel=”author” are confusing because they fail to explain where they should point to

The microformats wiki explains rel=”author” as (emphasize mine)

rel="author" is for relating an article or post to a page or site representing its author, typically to give them credit for their work (or portions of it, like books, articles, blog posts etc).

The rel="author" attribute indicates that the destination of the link represents the author of the current page (or post).

And the rel=”me” is

XFN 1.1 introduced the “me” rel value which is used to indicate profile equivalence and for identity-consolidation.

rel="me" is used on hyperlinks from one page about a person to other pages about that same person.

Thus establishing a bi-directional rel-me link and confirming that the two URLs represent the same person.

At first read the definitions are simple and understandable, the problems arise while trying to implement them due to the subjective and fluid nature of the terms “profile” and “represent“.

What is a profile, and more importantly what is my profile? Is it just some web page that its title contains the word “profile” and my name, and should it be officially sanctioned as a profile by a big company like google or facebook or can I make my own? What information makes a page a profile? Can someone else write my profile, is the wikipedia page about me a valid profile to use? Can my profile be generated automatically, can a search page after my name in google serve as my profile?
And why do I need to link my profiles, isn’t it more logical to simply have only one profile if they can be linked? People have more then one profile to show separate sides of their personality to different audiences, for example professional and personal profiles, and linking them will run contrary to the thought process resulting in the creation of two distinct profiles.

Representation is even harder to understand. My blog represents me, but there is no one page on it that does it by itself. Yes I wrote an “about me” page but this is usually the first page being written and one that is almost never updated to reflect any changes. What represent better a practicing book writer, his blog or his official page at his publishers site? Should it be a representation that I simply endorse or does it have to be written by me.

If you have only one site or you participate in only one social network it is probably not too hard to figure out these relationships, but once you have more then one site and participate in more then one network, deciding what is your main profile and organizing the relationships is something you need to put some work into it, and what do you get in return for your work? nothing. Google and the rest of the social search companies gets some more data to build their social graph, from which they can make money, and you at best get a small icon of yours next to an excerpt of what you wrote in a page where they place ads from which they make money.

Right now the way I see it the main problem with rel=”author” and rel=”me” is convincing people to care about setting them in a way which is meaningful and consistent. For now google sells its authorship requirements under the implicit promise of SEO improvements, but what if the improvements will not be delivered and what about people who care nothing about SEO?

Right now techcrunch uses rel=”me” to point to its G+ profile (line 1 below), and if techcruch can’t (or don’t want to) handle this correctly how many sites owners will?

<link rel="me" type="text/html" href=""/>
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="TechCrunch RSS Feed" href="" />
<link rel="pingback" href="" />
<link rel="icon" type="image/x-icon" href="" />
<link rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon" href="" />
<link rel="stylesheet" id="style-css" href="" type="text/css" media="all" />
<link href="" rel="publisher" />

Which brings us to think of fake profiles and false attribution, but this article is Tl;Dr as it is now and no point in making it longer.

How many authors are in a blog page? many!

In my opinion , in the discussion around google authorship there is too much emphasize about main content writer authorship, but  almost no mention that the content indexed by google is made up also from comments and the have authors as well.

This is even more obvious in forums and Q&A sites. Who is the author of a page on stackexchange, the one who asked the question or the ones who supplied the answer. It is even more complex in wiki sites.

It feels like while people were rushing to see faces on the search results hoping for some SEO juice, they haven’t tried to reed the text of the spec

For a and area elements, the author keyword indicates that the referenced document provides further information about the author of the nearest article element ancestor of the element defining the hyperlink, if there is one, or of the page as a whole, otherwise.

And article elements are not necessarily the whole content of the page (emphasize mine)

The article element represents a self-contained composition in a document, page, application, or site and that is, in principle, independently distributable or reusable, e.g. in syndication. This could be a forum post, a magazine or newspaper article, a blog entry, a user-submitted comment, an interactive widget or gadget, or any other independent item of content.

But google right now will not let me claim authorship over my comments :( . The way you need to configure your profile to claim authorship is just not user friendly enough to do it for every site I comment on, just too much work.

Why would I as a site owner wish to let commenter claim authorship on comments? because if I have quality commentators people might come to my site because they follow them.

google fails to understand that authorship is a markup territory and not display territory

A quote from the webmaster tool help page

Hidden markup Make sure that your rel="author" link is not invisible to humans using techniques like display:none or CSS. Broadly speaking, Google won’t display any information that cannot be viewed by humans.

As if there is a way for a human to see the relationship info without viewing the source HTML. It is as if google needs more incoming links into the g+ profile pages to promote them in search results….

But even google understands how stupid this rule can be in practice and allows authorship info to be specified in link tags in the header. (which is actually exactly one of the options the HTML5 spec specifically specifies)