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I want to use rel="author", however the type of blog I run is about a game, and doesn't relate to my real identity. I'm more known for my screen name, so would this still be okay to use for the rel="author" tag? For example, if my Google+ account is for my user, and not for myself, could I still use it within the rel="author" tag? I don't want to get penalized in any sort of way.

My main reason to do this, is to improve click through rate, and just make my blog post sections look better in the searches.

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Doesn't matter. You should just use your Google+ profile URL anyway - i.e. <link rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/profileid"> in your site header. You could also do this in an <a> tag somewhere on the page.

edit: as heytools noted however, using anything besides your real name on a Google+ profile constitutes a TOS violation. See here.

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  • Doesn't matter? Could you give a proof of your saying please?
    – Zistoloen
    Aug 1, 2013 at 15:27
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    But your Google+ profile can't use nicknames/usernames (otherwise it's against TOS), so it's not really the wished solution.
    – heytools
    Aug 1, 2013 at 15:27
  • @Zistoloen I just meant it doesn't matter in the sense that to link it to Google+ you just put your profile url in the tag and it pulls your name from Google+, so you don't have to define your username / real name / handle in this code. heytools is correct though that you're supposed to only use real names on Google+, which in retrospect I should have pointed out.
    – Ennui
    Aug 1, 2013 at 15:29
  • That link says its "recommended". It is certainly no violation to do otherwise.
    – Octopus
    Aug 1, 2013 at 20:22
  • Not really true. It says recommended but I think that's just an acknowledgement that they may not notice if you make up a fake name that "appears" to be a real name. "Recommended" in this case means it's their policy. support.google.com/plus/answer/3049016 has some more details that further imply if they discover your profile name is ANYTHING but YOUR real name it will be suspended.
    – Ennui
    Aug 1, 2013 at 20:25
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As a safer approach, I would use a Google+ page (not profile) + rel="publisher" instead, it may not give the wished results (profile picture + number of +'s in search results), but could allow some other right side info to appear.

You may notice that all these bloggers that appear in search results have their real name and most often their real face photo in the search results, I don't remember ever seeing fakes without photos.

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  • within gaming its not uncommon for a username alias to be the predominant name. Some of the largest names in gaming are simply names like Day(9), DJWheat, Artosis etc - all of which blog and have daily content with a very large base. Its a wierd demographic
    – NRGdallas
    Aug 1, 2013 at 19:34
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The link type author is defined in HTML5:

[…] the author keyword indicates that the referenced document provides further information about the author […]

So you can use any kind of URI that is "about" the author. This can be a personal website, a profile on a third party website (e.g. a social network profile or a gaming network profile), a page about a fictive/pseudonymous person, or even an email address.

That is from the specification perspective.

Now, what some third party services like search engines do or don’t do with this information is up to them.

Google seems to recognize only Google+ profiles, at least for now. So, if you have (and want to use) a pseudonymous Google+ profile, you can use it. If Google+ should block your profile, you won’t get penalized by Google Search for having used it with the author link type. Google Search will probably simply not display the authorship information anymore.

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