Whilst moving my blog from Blogger to github pages I've been looking into various ways to bump up my traffic.

I came across schema.org microformats some time ago and read about plans from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to support them. I implemented the BlogPosting microformat to mark up my posts "semantically", and waited to see what google would make of it.

I admit, I was pretty excited at the thought of my search listings being presented in a more interesting fashion - I think that would really make them stand out. Here's an example of what Google's "rich snippets" testing tool makes of my articles:

rich snippets info for one of my blog posts

Unfortunately to-date it hasn't made a great deal of difference to how my posts are presented in a google search result.

google search listing

The first result in that listing image is for my blog. The only difference I see is that my blog result shows a date (which is nice, but I'm not sure its there because of the rich snippets markup - my old blogger blog shows dates like this too, and currently has no metadata markup that I can spot in the html source).

So much for rich snippets.

More recently I came across rel=author, and again I've been quite excited to try it out. This time I checked before-hand and found a handful of webby types who've got this working on their blogs. Here's what they look like:

google search listing with rel=author

A couple of weeks later I'm still having a bit of a trial getting this to work. I've done the setup exactly as described by google and a bunch of these other guys who've got it working - no joy. I'm using the three-way setup as follows:

  • From each blog post, link to my about page with rel="author" (I've linked the lego man image at top-right in the header).
  • From my about page, link to my google profile with rel="me" (I have two links, one <link rel="me"> in the <head>, and one in an <a rel="me" .. in the G+ icon in the navigation bar just below the header.
  • From my google profile, create a contributes-to link back to my about page.

The reason for this set of reciprocal links is so that google can trust that the content really is produced by you, and its no hard-ship to set up. Except that for some reason I can't fathom it just doesn't work for me.

The rich-snippets testing tool gives me the all-clear, and even shows an example search listing:

I've tried about a dozen variants now, each time waiting for a re-index before trying something different (you can tell when you've been indexed using Google's Webmaster Tools).

So far I've tried:

  • Relative links between blog-post and about page
  • Absolute links between blog-post and about page
  • All links as <link> elements in the <head>
  • All links as <a> elements in the page <body>
  • All combinations of the above alternatives

I have a few remaining alternatives in the works. One is to remove all rel=me links to profiles other than google (I currently also have twitter and linked-in profiles linked with rel=me).

Another is to add a link to my google+ profile in an <a href="https://plus.google.com/105248011271585565954?rel=author">Steve+</a> (yes, with the + at the end of the link text - see option 2, here).

There's also this form which sounds tantalisingly like it might be a necessary part of the process, and which I hadn't previously seen mentioned anywhere. I've submitted the form, but a bit of googling suggests that it will make no difference.

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