co rel="me" And rel="author" Attributes |

Google wants to make it clear what the difference is between rel=”me” and rel=”author”. That’s why on June 7 – just a few days ago – Google added an explanation page to its Webmaster guidelines defining the difference. It’s really pretty simple, but I think it bears some discussion and how small business owners can use the site for improving their own search engine rankings.

rel=”author” Defines Authorship

Let’s say that Small Business Mavericks has a staff of five writers, all of whom write content for the blog. If each one has an author page with a bio, then each author could have a byline on every blog post they write. The name in their byline could be linked to each author’s author bio page with a rel=”author” attribute as a part of the link markup code. In other words, it would look something like this:

    < a href="Small Business Maverick URL" rel="Caroline Melberg" >Caroline Melberg< /a >

This code tells the search engines that Caroline Melberg is the author of the article linking to the author’s page. It’s important to point out that this markup must be used only on content that exists on the same domain. In other words, you wouldn’t use the rel=”author” tag to link from an article on one domain to an author bio on another domain.

rel=”me” Defines The Person

While the rel=”author” attribute is new markup, rel=”me” is not. In fact, for a number of years now Google has encouraged its use. It should be used in links that point from a social networking profile back to your website and vice-versa. This tells Google that the same name and bio information on separate websites is actually the same person.

Why The Distinction?

I think what Google is getting at here is that there could be some user confusion over who persons are between social networks, especially if several users share a common name, whereas authors on a website might be better found – and their names more searchable – if links included a rel=”author” tag.

The rel=”author” attribute is clearly encouraged for news sites where several authors might write pages on a regular basis, but it doesn’t mean that small businesses with several writers can’t also use the same markup strategy. I think you can.