If your website or blog has contributors, guest posters or more than one person writing articles for it, you need an author box. Even if you are the sole writer, you need an author box.
What is an author box or bio? It is basically a few sentences of text at the end of a post on a website that says something about the author. It can say who they are, their interests, what experience they have, maybe who they work for.
It does not have to be a box, although the content is often boxed out in some way, such as with a border simply because it looks good. It often contains a photo of the author. It doesn’t have to, but a picture does make the author box or bio more interesting and it makes the author seem more real than just text.
EAT this Google!
Eat stands for Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness and is being pushed by Google as the way to improve both the content of your website and as a by product, your ranking in search results. If you have plenty of EAT, your website and articles are more likely to appear higher in search and this means more visitors to your website from Google.
It is not a new concept and EAT should have been a goal for your website or blog for a long time. Being an expert in a subject is clearly an advantage when it comes to providing good content, being an authority certainly helps and having qualifications in a subject ranges from useful to essential. For example, you would not want medical advice from someone who had no medical qualifications. You and your website also have to be trustworthy and an about page, contact information, no scams, spam and so on all help.
An author box or bio at the end of an article can help your EAT score by providing valuable information about the author of the article. This may simply be you, but it could be a regular contributor or a one-off guest post.
That possibly means higher ranking in search results and more visitors, but an author box or bio is not simply for Google search ranking and that is really just a secondary benefit. Its primary use should be to inform the reader about the author and to make the article contents more credible.
It can make readers think that this person really knows what they are talking about and what they say is important. This isn’t a nobody, but a somebody and we should take note of what they say.
Let’s look at what you need to show an author box or bio on your blog or website.
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Enable avators in WordPress
An avatar is a small image that is used to represent a person. When your name appears in certain places on a website, such as author boxes, comments below posts, discussion forums and so on, your avatar can appear next to it. An avatar is usually a small picture of you, typically head and shoulders, but it could be something else like your dog, cat, a cartoon character and so on.
In WordPress, go to Settings > Discussion and scroll down to the Avatars section. Tick the checkbox to show avatars. Select a rating – G is family friendly and is best. The others may contain adult content.
Select a default avatar. This is used when a person does not have their own. There are some fun graphics like MonsterID, Wavatar and Retro.
How do you set your avatar to show a photo of yourself or some other image you choose? Go to gravatar.com and create a free account. It lets you choose an image to be used as your gravatar. It is linked to your email, so any website you are logged into with your email will use the gravatar image. It can be your website or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter.
It is operated by the brains behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, WooCommerce and Akismet, and it works on any WordPress website. Author boxes often use gravatar images, so it is useful to go and create an account and add your photo and other details if you have not already done so.
Add biographical info
The information in an author box or bio usually comes from details in the user’s website account. Go to Users, hover over your account name and click Edit. Find the Biographical Info section and add whatever text you would like to appear in your author box, such as a brief description and some useful information, perhaps qualifications or experience.
Notice the picture in the screenshot above, it comes from my Gravatar account and there is a link to go and change it if I want to. This is all built into WordPress.
WordPress author box without a plugin
A WordPress theme may contain an author box and sometimes it is provided as an optional feature that can be enabled or disabled. It is worth checking and it will save you having to install a plugin. Everything you need to highlight the author might already be built in.
It may vary from WordPress theme to theme, but on mine I go to Appearance > Customize > Theme Options > Layout. Select the option to show the author box. Save the settings and the author box appears after every post where you are the author.
Use an author box plugin
If the WordPress theme you use does not have an author box or if you want a different one, perhaps with more features or customization, there are many plugins available.
Go to Plugins, click the Add New button and then enter ‘author box’ into the search box. Many plugins are listed and Simple Author Box is one of the most popular with 40,000 active installations and an excellent rating last time I looked.
Click the Install Now button and then click the Activate button afterwards. If your WordPress theme has an author box, disable it or you will see two – one from the theme and one from the plugin.
Select Simple Author in the WordPress sidebar to go to the configuration options. There are several tabs and you should select each one in turn and select the settings you want.
For example, you can choose to hide or show the author’s email address. On the Appearance tab you can set the top and bottom margins and you may need to increase them to separate the author box from whatever content is above and below on the page. The colors of the title, borders and other items can be set.
The contents of the author box is taken from your user account. Click the Edit Author Profile button at the top of the Simple Author Box settings page or select Users in the WordPress sidebar and go to your account.
There is now a Simple Author Box section in your user profile and you can choose an image to use. Your gravatar is used by default, so you can leave Profile Image blank. However, you can select a different image if you prefer and it overrides your gravitas image. (Remove the image to return to using your gravatar.)
Add social media accounts by clicking Add new social platform and enter the URLs to Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. A social icon is added to the Simple Author Box for each URL that is added. It enables readers to easily visit you on social media and perhaps contact you. In Author Box settings, on the Appearance tab, select the appearance of the social buttons, such as color and shape.
There are many customization options for the author box and it is easy to create your own style and make it fit in with the theme of your website.
Contributors and one-off posts
Every author needs a WordPress account in order for the author box to appear in posts. This is because the information that appears in the box comes from the user’s profile.
This does not mean that you have to let people access to your website and be able to log in. As an administrator you can create user accounts in the Users section. Create a new user with a Subscriber or contributor role, clear the option to send them an email, and set your own password.
The user won’t be able to log in unless you tell them the password you used when creating their account, but as an administrator you can edit their profile, set their biographical info, set their author image and so on.
If you have many different guest posters and one-off articles from people, it may not be worth creating an account each time. One option is to create a Guest User account and set the author to it when creating an article from a submitted guest post. (The author of a post is set in the sidebar on the right when creating a new post.) You would need to add the author information yourself at the end of the article and you could make it the last paragraph of the article for example.