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Google Authorship and rel=author an Alternative Opinion

More and more people are noticing that the Google Structured Data Testing Tool is verifying Google+ Pages as authors.

Most people will tell you the SDTT shows that result because the SDTT is broken and not accurate, I tend to disagree though.

The reason I disagree is because I have always said there is a big difference between Authorship (upper case for this discussion) and authorship (lower case for this discussion)

1. Authorship is fundamentally a display system, if you set up Authorship correctly your photo and name appear with your listing in Google’s results

2. authorship is an acknowledgement/attribution/evaluation/tracking system, set up authorship correctly and you are attributing the article to the author, be the author a person, organisation or other entity.

I’m not saying Authorship isn’t also an acknowledgement/attribution system, just that if you use authorship on something that isn’t a Google+ Profile you still get the attribution/acknowledgement but not the display features.

Most people appear to say you should only use rel=author on Google+ Profiles.

I say that is correct if the only reason you are doing it is for the display features, *BUT* if you are using rel=author to attribute an article to a person, organisation, other entity that isn’t a Google+ Profile I believe the rel=author tag still works.

My opinion is backed up by schema who say an author can be an organization or Person (see example – ) , by the SDTT which shows Pages can be Authors (even though others say this is a mistake) and also by the fact Google themselves use the rel=author tag on business pages throughout Google+

Unfortunately I think Authorship muddied the waters as people tend to only look at the big picture, the fact it has the display features.

They don’t look deeper in to rel=author authorship which I believe will be far more important for attribution/acknowledgement and dare I say it, evaluation.

There is something fundamentally flawed about authorship if it only works for people with Google+ Profiles.

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Original Post from 21st June 2013