Looking for author bio writing tips? Learn why it’s important for SEO, readers, E-A-T, and UX, plus see examples and a sample template here.
Since the disruptive algorithm update some in the industry call the “Medic Update,” SEO professionals have seen consecutive broad core algorithm updates from Google.
The search engine has indicated that “there is no ‘fix’” required to recover from these types of updates.
However, some SEO pros have put forward convincing studies, including this one from Lily Ray, that not demonstrating E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trust) in a site’s content can be a demolishing factor in its search engine visibility.
In fact, Google mentions E-A-T 137 times in the current iteration of its 167-page search quality raters guidelines. It also advises that raters check to see if the page says who the author is and lists their biography and credentials.
We must not take the quality raters guidelines as indicators of ranking signals, as they do not directly influence rankings.
And Google has confirmed that they do not rank websites based on author reputation.
So why even care about author bios for SEO? In this column, you’ll learn why author bios matter and how to write an SEO-friendly author bio.
You’ll also find writing tips and an author bio template to help you get started.
Google’s John Mueller downplayed the necessity of author bio pages for SEO. He has suggested that they do help, but are more for user experience.
“With regards to author pages and expertise, authority and trustworthiness, that’s something where I’d recommend checking that out with your users and doing maybe a short user study, specifically for your set up, for the different set ups that you have, trying to figure out how you can best show that the people who are creating content for your website, they’re really great people, they’re people who know what they’re talking about, they have credentials or whatever is relevant within your field.”
But Google has always cared about author authority.
Take the idea of “author rank” for a start.
This was discussed by Bill Slawski when Google filed its Agent rank patent in 2005.
The idea was that the “reputation scores of all of the people who put together the content of a page played a role in the ranking of that page.”
Then in 2011, Google announced its authorship markup, “a way to connect authors with their content on the web.”
Back then, marking up author pages with an accompanying Google Plus profile link using Schema.org’s rel=”author” and rel=”me” was standard practice.
Authorship markup never claimed to offer any direct ranking benefit.
Instead, it was put forward as a means to help search engines have more confidence about the author’s identity and “highlight authors in search results.”
Google long ago stopped showing authorship in search results and shut down Google Plus.
Despite this, their recent announcement on how they rank news sources revealed ongoing interest in authorship on the search engine’s part.
It reaffirmed the importance of author authority to Google.
Within that announcement, author bylines and author bios featured as important ways to build trust:
“This includes information like clear dates and bylines, as well as information about authors, the news source, company or network behind it, and contact information”
In addition, on a recent SEO webinar for publishers, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan stressed the importance of having a specific byline, not “By staff” for transparency.
Only recently, Google recently updated its article on structured data and recommends adding the author’s URL in article schema.
Google also claims to know which content belongs to the same author.
They are testing new knowledge panels for journalists, highlighting their most recent articles.
The official word from Google may be that author bios are not a ranking factor, but there is benefit in having clear bylines and information demonstrating expertise in an author’s bio page.
It can only assist Google’s algorithms in understanding the author’s E-A-T.
And this, in turn, may help the rankings of those articles in search results. This is purely interpretation on my part, but this is what all of the evidence seems to tell us.
So how can you write a compelling author bio of your own?
Writing in the third person increases the perceived authority and simply reads better than a biography one has written about who they are.
It may feel a bit self-congratulatory, but it adds more credibility.
A good author bio should be relatively short. Look around at other websites and you’ll see that between 50 and 100 words is the general norm that is found on most author bios online.
There also may be a fixed amount of space predetermined by the CMS.
Including information about your work and function adds credibility to your writing.
For example, if you were writing on the topic of SEO, being an SEO specialist would be considered more credible than if you were a PPC specialist and vice versa.
Function is important, too.
Although SEO pros need to wear multiple hats, understanding if someone is a generalist or specialist adds further topical expertise when reading an author bio.
Here, you can include information about:
Summarize your expertise on the topic that you are writing about.
For example, if the topic you are writing about is health, letting your audience know about your credentials in that topic is far more credible than a similar article written by a blogger, or copywriter.
It is very important in the health and finance spaces, in particular, to demonstrate knowledge and expertise in their field. These are referred to as Your Money, Your Life (YMYL), as misinformation has the potential to do a person serious harm.
Stating expertise on the author bio is important not only for SEO, for users to help them identify you as a credible source on a specific subject matter.
Including links to social media on author pages is also another great way for users to be able to access more content from you, as you can link your personal or business website, and even your social media profiles.
It can also help people to find your social media handles to tag you and/or your company into their posts. As well as a means to help readers continue on the discussion.
Adding a picture of yourself as part of your bio can be a great visual way to show the reader that there is a real human behind the words that they have read.
Using the same photo, ideally professionally taken can be a great way of associating a person with a profile image.
Although not necessarily required for SEO, sharing personal interest and humor can make an author bio page more engaging and interesting.
However, readers may only be marginally interested in your personal life, so your bio is probably not the best place to share too much personal information.
For SEO, having an author bio page on a separate URL is a lot easier to optimize for author names, than including all authors on a single about us page.
For example, let’s examine the Harvard Business Review (HBR) and The Guardian.
HBR uses a standalone about us page to list their authors.
Most author searches use the author’s first name.
If we take [Alison Beard] and use her as a random example we can see that Google has associated her with [HBR].
If we make a more navigational search [Alison Beard HBR], we actually get a third-party website with the featured snippet.
If we compare this search result to The Guardian for another author at random [Katharine Murphy].
This is a great place to read her latest articles.
The common misconception around author bio pages is that they should be no-indexed.
Why have Googlebot drop that page entirely from Google Search results?
Similarly, the page may be blocked via the robots.txt file, as is the case with the Harvard Business Review:
People search for journalists or authors. Readers follow them and even subscribe to their personal newsletters.
This type of traffic suggests loyal, navigational search traffic.
There is the argument that some profile pages are low quality and used for link spam, and you may wish to no-index these.
However, if Author Bio Page SEO is the focus and authors have expertise in which they are writing, ensuring they are indexed and optimized is a no-brainer.
The keyword for author profile pages is understandably the author’s name.
On-page SEO best practice, using the keyword throughout, and hierarchy of the page are all important factors.
For example, if we take the same example of Katharine Murphy from the Guardian above:
The Guardian also does a great job of author profile page internal linking.
On the article detail pages, their template links to their author profile pages via the byline on each article created;
As well as in their author HTML sitemap:
They also provide internal link equity to this page by placing a link to its page using “All writers” on their footer template:
The use of article-specific structured data is required to appear in Google’s top stories, once the content meets the basic Google News policies.
Since December 2019, when Google launched its Publisher Center, a manual process is no longer required when submitting sites to Google News.
With authorship markup retired, marking up authors in article structured data may not only be beneficial for publisher sites, but may also be beneficial for all sites that create news content.
However, be warned, being eligible for Google News, and actually being included are two different things.
Using structured data may also support E-A-T by helping create new connections Google wouldn’t have otherwise made in its Knowledge Graph.
There are a few different types of author bio pages you’ll see around the web. Here are some examples.
Example: Dr. Jeff Grognet
Example: Mike Eckstein
Dr Gayathri Perera’s profile on Top Doctors UK in the medical space is particularly strong for SEO, UX, and CRO.
For SEO, the metadata is well optimized:
Here’s what her profile does right:
Home > Doctors > Dermatology > Dermatologists in Central London > Dr Gayathri Perera
Arguably, Top Doctors may have the best author bio page example out there.
Top Doctors is particularly impressive in the medical space, however, the following are also good author bio examples for SEO.
David Leonhart’s profile in the New York Times is particularly impressive.
Here, the bio links to their “The Morning” newsletter to encourage sign-ups, his background, industry awards, internal links to his notable pieces including the “rise of digital media” as well as information on his education.
Outside of the good profile page basics such as written in the third person, information about experience and demonstration of expertise, the use of the CTA on Andy Crestodina’s profile page is what makes this particularly good for a marketing author bio example.
Jill Greenfield’s personal injury bio again follows the author bio SEO best practice as discussed above. The use of awards won in image format is powerful.
What’s smart here for SEO is the internal link equity that can be leveraged.
Example member event where Jill Greenfield was a speaker:
Health & Wellness
There is an abundance of good SEO examples of author bio pages on authoritative health and wellness websites.
These types of sites fall directly into the YMYL category. And those unlucky enough to be in that niche from an SEO perspective were believed to be hit the hardest from previous core updates.
Google’s John Mueller has stressed the importance of E-A-T for this niche and raters have been directed to put more weight on it when providing feedback to engineers.
This could be due to Google and other tech giants falling into the media spotlight for assisting the rise in misinformation and “fake news”, poor quality of online medical information, and vaccine misinformation.
Nevertheless, Verywellfit.com does a great job in this niche with its article pages and a great example to follow.
As displayed below, both the byline and the author bio page of the fact-checker pops out when either your finger or cursor hovers over them.
They create a great user experience and encourage reader engagement without necessarily taking them to a new URL or window.
The other smart move here to encourage reader trust is the quick link to their editorial process. This is a step some news websites fail to share despite having rigorous standards.
Writing a good author bio should be considered as important as writing the article itself.
However, if you are stuck on time, or need a template you can share with your client/team member you could use the following template. Combine into one paragraph:
There is more to writing a good author bio than SEO and demonstrating E-A-T.
At the end of the day, it is all about the reader and how you can best serve their needs, capture their interest, and keep their attention.
Take, for example, this Dutch publisher’s subscriber functionality on their author bio pages.
As a subscriber, it is possible to follow her writing by receiving a push alert when she publishes next and have her articles included in your daily newsletter.
For SEO, have standalone URLs for author profiles, allowing them to be indexed, and make sure their on-page optimization for the author’s name are fundamental best practices.
But if you are in a more scrutinized niche such as YMYL, make sure to go into the details that demonstrate E-A-T as the Top Doctors example above has shown.
Featured image: yelosmiley/Shutterstock
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Dan Smullen is Head of SEO with Mediahuis Ireland where he provides strategic leadership to the companies SEO initiatives, training … [Read full bio]
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