Google Authorship Beyond Webpages

In last month’s post about authorship, I shared that Google has been experimenting with inferring authorship for PDF documents in addition to webpages. This piqued my curiosity to see if any other indexable filetypes could also have inferred authorship.

Microsoft Office Files

PowerPoint files appear to infer authorship similar to PDFs and webpages, looking for the term “by” followed by the author’s name.


To generate the authorship snippet on an Excel file, I had to add “by Janet Driscoll Miller” to a tab in the workbook, and Google uses the tab name as the title of the page. Having a byline appear only in a cell of the worksheet wasn’t enough to generate the snippet.



The most interesting case, though, was with Word documents. Using an old whitepaper I had, I did some testing with the byline again. In one version where I removed the byline, the author snippet was still showing, even though I had removed the words “by Janet Driscoll Miller” and I had no other byline in the document.



After combing through the document, I found that there was a paragraph at the end of the paper that could be the culprit.


Although there was no traditional byline, it appeared that this paragraph at the end of the document did help Google identify me as the author. To test this, I tried a version with the “About the Author” paragraph removed.


 No author snippet. What this demonstrates to me is that, while traditional bylines are the most common way for Google to infer authorship, the search engine is increasingly able to do so based on context (to some degree).

Other Types Of Text-Based Files

Since Google can read text in other types of text-based files, would it be able to infer authorship within these documents? I tested rich text format (.rtf) and text format (.txt) files. Interestingly, author snippets only showed for rich text format documents and, as with the Word document with the “About the Author” section, authorship was inferred by more than just a byline.


Interestingly, regular text files did not generate any form of author snippet.


Image Files

While Google can’t read text in a JPG file or other types of image files, it can index certain types of vector graphic files, such as SVG and postscript files. Could Google infer authorship from text within these files? As you can see, Google showed authorship when a byline was included in the SVG file in its text.


However, I couldn’t get an authorship snippet to display when I saved the same file as a postscript file.

Google Docs

Considering they are tied to your Google ID, it would seem sensible for Google Docs to show authorship if those documents are open for Web sharing. While I had trouble generating my own snippet to show, I was able to find one example of authorship showing for a presentation.


Google Books

In my estimation, a natural fit for authorship would be actual books listed in Google Books — however, it doesn’t appear that the authorship snippet has been applied to Google Book listings yet.

book authorship

These listings came from a search for content on the Google Books site; but, Web search didn’t yield an author snippet, either.

Over the next month, I’ll continue to work on author testing to see what other goodies I can find!


Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO | Google | Google: Authorship


About The Author: is the President and CEO of Marketing Mojo. She regularly blogs on a variety of search engine marketing topics, often focusing on technical solutions. You can find her on Twitter @janetdmiller.

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  • Aaron Bradley

    Fascinating! Thanks for this Janet.

    In regard to image and other non-textual files, it will be interesting to see if authorship snippets might (either now or in the future) be generated on the basis of structured markup., for example, has the property author, which in turn could be linked to a Google+ account using properties of Person. And with JSON-LD now supported as a recommended format for, one could conceivably provide authorship information to the search engines for non-textual data types.

  • Tamara Meier

    Oh the irony of an authorship snippet not being surfaced for, um, authors. ;-) Thank You for taking the time to play with so many iterations – great info there, and some interesting opportunities. Appreciate the article & the time!

  • Clifford Blodgett

    I am still hoping they will let you submit your articles which they might have missed. Have some old articles (2006) on some quality sites that didn’t have the correct attribution and am waiting for them to get picked up.

  • Ash Vyas

    Hey Janet,
    Really fascinating and interesting. Thanks for sharing your study result with us. The most interesting is to get to know Google started supporting authorship for few types of images as well..

  • Rob Jenkins

    Hello Janet, I was curious if on your word docs you have the author set on your document? If you go into your doc folder, and select it (don’t open it) on the bottom pane it has a bunch of meta data that you can edit (categories, tags, title, comments)that maybe Google can read that and is how it is telling you are the author even when you remove it from the document itself.

  • Carmen Rane Hudson

    Awesome info! This tidbit about adding a bio to other types of content is amazingly helpful. Thanks!

  • Jean-Baptiste Pichancourt

    Nice post. another limitation.
    It has also not been implemented for scientific research papers (.pdf) published in international peer-reviewed journals, and that can be browsed simultaneously from general google search engine and google scholar. As a scientist, I hope google will implement this (and for books). Cheers – jb

  • Patrick

    Thanks for this blog. I am very close to getting Google authorship set up as I want.
    The one point I cannot grasp is how to associate a Word or PDF file with Google+.
    I have a link from my profile to the document and the document has “By Patrick Trowbridge” in it.
    The Structured Data Testing Tool doesn’t pick it up as there is no rel=”author” associated with the PDF file, I suspect.
    If I could get this to work I have a dozen or so articles I can link in.


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