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There has been a lot of talk about Google’s rel=author tag, a lot less about rel=publisher. As you’d expect, there is quite a bit confusion about which one might be appropriate under certain circumstances. Google attempts to clarify this with this blog post, but I’m not sure they were clear about it in all situations.

One particular question where there seems to be some concern is when you are writing articles using a mascot, or persona.

Personas are nice. It’s a marketing gimmick that may or may not work depending on how it is rolled out. However, Google doesn’t want you to use rel=author for articles written under the guise of a fictional entity. In other words, you shouldn’t use rel=author for articles written by mascots, personas, or generic company faces.

In those cases, I’d use the rel=publisher tag. The rel=publisher tag is less personal and allows you to establish an identity with your company. That could be through a mascot, a persona, or some generic non-real person.

For instance, you could post articles under the name of your company – as XYZ Corporation, for instance. If you do, use the rel=publisher tag.

I think the Google Authorship guidelines will become more clear with time. As for now, keep it simple and only use the rel=author tag for real people and articles written by real people.

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