Did Your Headshot “Disappear” on Google?

July 10, 2014 Update: Google has now removed all author photos from search results. We write about what it means for attorneys here.

Every so often, you Google yourself. Not out of narcissism but because all smart attorneys should do it from time to time to see how they show up in search results. Lately, you may have noticed something: The headshot that typically appears next to your blog posts or articles on Google search results is no longer there.

It’s nothing personal. A lot of professionals have experienced the same thing. In some cases, they’re seeing other information disappear, like their name or phone number. Where is that info going? Only Google knows the exact answer, but the key thing to know is that you can try to get it back.

Within the world of search, photos, addresses and other items attached to search results are known as “snippets.” Google uses snippets to link you with your content, and it pulls them from your Google Plus profile.

The basic reason why the leader of search engines has been removing some snippets from results is that it’s constantly looking to provide higher-quality content to searchers. There are two ways the quality factor might reduce your snippets’ visibility:

1.    Google’s quality “filter” has changed, so content that used to qualify no longer does
2.    Your site has recently added what Google considers lower-quality content

The upshot: The higher the quality of content, the more likely snippets will show up in search results.

You may notice, for instance, that your headshot will appear next to an article you’ve written for a distinguished legal publication — but not for an item you’ve posted on your firm’s blog. Google has rated one higher than the other.

So what can you do to see your photo more frequently? Think like Google thinks.

  • Create relevant and valuable content. When you blog, cover legal topics you know about in an insightful way. Don’t just dash something off about, say, fantasy football.
  • Publish that content correctly. Use keywords that will draw legal readers to your website. And write articles for publications that will get attention.
  • Share it across as many networks as possible. When you post something, share it on social media and any specialty online sites you might belong to. Join in any discussions about what you’ve written.

Google continually changes its search algorithms in order to keep delivering relevant search results for users. Good content adds to your authority. Google rewards authority and trustworthy content with snippets. Like your smiling face.

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