Using Smiles to Increase Click-Through Rates

Friday, July 5th, 2013
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If you have executed some Google searches recently you may have noticed that certain results have an image (typically a person’s smiling face) next to the search result listing. It is human nature to be drawn to a person’s face, hence giving listings with faces an advantage when competing for that click. So the main question to ask is, “how do I make that happen for pages on my site?” Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that the people that write content or blog articles for your site are setup with Google Plus Profiles. It is also important that they upload profile pictures.
  2. Once they have Google Plus profiles setup, they need to edit their profile and add your domain in the Contributor section of the profile.
  3. The final step is to add an author tag to the page or article that person composed. The author tag looks like this:

<link rel=”author” href=”″>

As you probably guessed, the href value is the author’s Google Plus profile.

It’s that simple! Now, when your articles are listed in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), they will now have the author’s Google Plus profile image listed along the left side!

Some content management and blogging platforms have plug-ins that make this really easy. We recommend encouraging your authors to upload Google Plus profile pictures that appear friendly and inviting which will help draw the user’s eye. Happy blogging!

After receiving a degree in Industrial Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Alex began his career as a technology consultant with Accenture. In 1999 he left Accenture and founded Nexternal – a cloud-based eCommerce Platform company. Alex is passionate about eCommerce and online marketing. He is now a Senior Vice President of HighJump, managing the Nexternal business unit.


  1. Hi Scott,

    It likely depends upon the frequency of which Google crawls your site, but I have been averaging about a 4 day turn around from when the snippet is added to when the picture displays in the SERP.

    On a similar note, if you want your picture to show up next to your comments on this block, you can upload an image at

  2. Hi Scott,
    That is a great question. The rel=”author” tag is intended to go between the head tags of your html code. If you are using WordPress, visit Users/Edit User/Contact Info and specify the appropriate author’s Google+ profile in the Google+ parameter. Be sure to tie each post to the appropriate author. Next, visit a post and view the source to confirm that the rel=”author” tag has been included.

    1. Scott Bultman

      I see a place for Jabber/Google Talk but it was easier to edit the theme head and place the tag there . I see it in source when browsing. How long until Google shows it in a SERP?

  3. Scott Bultman

    Does it matter where in the page code? It looks like header info but can it go at the end of a WordPress post?

  4. Great suggestion. I didn’t realize that’s how those profile pics were pulled up. I’ll have to give this a try on my site.

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