How to Implement Rel=Publisher

How to Implement Rel=Publisher

14th November 2012

I’ve been banging on about Rel=Author and Rich Snippets for a while now. Partly because I like the idea of associating content with people, and partly because I think it’s a good insight into Google’s future plans.

It totally makes sense, to me at least, that the worlds of SEO and Social Media should be run in unison – complementing each other. Rel=Publisher, however, often gets left by the wayside; I view it as Rel=Author’s ugly twin, the one that no-one really talks about, or wants to get to know. But I’m going to tell you why you should!

I wasn’t always a fan

Originally, the whole  idea of the Rel=Author attribute seemed like another way for Google to encourage/force people to start using Google+, “Don’t use Google+, and you’ll be at a serious dis-advantage” seemed to be their message. And like most things Google, they got their way. SEOs, Social Media gurus, publicists  bloggers – everyone that uses the internet for any kind of work, got on board. But regardless of what Google’s motive was to create and implement attributes, such as rel=author, it’s hard not to agree that it’s a truly fantastic concept and will make life a lot richer (pardon the pun) and easier for professionals that rely on the internet to promote themselves and their companies/clients.

Which brings me nicely to Rel=Publisher

The key benefits of most rich snippets attributes, is that you can stand out from the crowd and take up a bigger, fatter piece of the SERPs pie. Everyone wants to have their face featured next to their work, it’s an ego booster! But what about brands? Surely, we can’t start filling up the SERPs with “people” instead of “companies” – that’s just not good business (depends which people, you could argue). So Google have developed Rel=Publisher, as a way for brands to show-off and take up a little more space.

What does Rel=Publisher do?


Much like rel=author, rel=publisher links a brand’s website with its Google+ business page/profile. Again, Google are linking their social platforms with their SERPs, and driving more traffic between the two. For Google, it’s a win-win situation; more users, even more market share. For your brand, it’s a mediocre benefit – for now, at least!

If you use rel=publisher, details of your company such as logo and most recent activity on your company’s G+ page will be shown in the right-hand column.

Problems with Rel=Publisher

Rel=Author shows the author’s photo and name on all SERPs that have been attributed – you do not have to search for the author’s name specifically. However, with Rel=Publisher it only “triggers” the extra feature when you type in nothing but the brand. I.E. “Waterstones” not “Watersones store London”. If you think about it, if you search for a brand the chances are high that you are already pretty familiar with them. So the fact that you get to see their logo and most recent activity on G+ is neither here nor there.

Additionally, Google seems to pick and choose when it actually shows a rel=publisher result. When I first started looking in to it a few months ago, most brand searches triggered the logo and extra G+ info. But today, I actually struggled to find a brand that triggered it. Even “SEOMOZ” didn’t trigger the rel=publisher result, even though theirs was the first example I saw when I was researching it a few months back.

All this leads me to believe that they were, and still are, very much in the “testing stage”.

Why stick with it?

Google is always changing and I can’t help but feel that Rel=Publisher is part of a bigger plan. OK, so at the moment it offers few advantages to the brand/user, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will play a bigger role in the future of the SERPs as we know them.

How to implement rel=publisher


Add the rel=”publisher” tag to the head of your site.  The tag must include the URL of your Google+ business page.

rel=publisher html

The easy way

There are always plug-ins to make life easier. The latest version of the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin has a section that asks you simply to add the URL of your G+ business page. This is super-duper easy and, in my opinion, the best way to go.


Final Step

Verification (for both the “manual way” and the “quick way”)

Naturally, Google needs to make sure people are linking the right G+ pages with the right brands, so there is a verification process.

As with rel=author, to verify your rel=publisher, simply go to the G+ page and add the URL of brand’s site to verify it. This creates a “reciprocal” link between the two sites and tells Google that it’s the real deal.


It will take a few days/weeks to make any difference to what you see in the SERPs. However, you can go to Google’s Rich Snippets tool (which has been vastly improved) to test whether you have implemented it correctly.

Main Points to Remember

1. Rel=Publisher may not give you AMAZING benefits right now, but it’s quick to implement and could very well become a more important feature in the future of Google’s SERPs.

2. There are plug-ins, such as Yoast, to make it very quick and easy to implement it. Or you can quickly add the HTML tag to the head of your site.

3. You MUST verify it from your G+ page – this should be the business page, not a personal “person’s” profile.

4. This should be complimented with the Rel=Author tag, which will give authors greater exposure in Google’s SERPs.

Also be sure to check out Nichola Stott’s beginners guide to rel=attributes!


Written By
Ben Holbrook is Head of Content at Verve Search and has a particular interest in content marketing and developing sustainable link development strategies.
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