Being John Ptacek – Configuring Wordpress for Authorship Markup

Update - June 2, 2014 Google has been deprecating a lot of the SEO benefits laid out in this post

A while back, Scott Hanselman had a blog post about embracing authorship. Essentially, it was a discussion about using Google's authorship markup on your website to help identify content you wrote. Like a lot of my recent posts, I decided to give this a run on my blog, which is an Azure hosted site running Wordpress.

At a high level, implementing this is a two-step process. First, Google needs to have a trusted "identity card". A place where the author identity is managed. As you can imagine, for Google this is Google+. You need to use your identity card (Google+) and say that you write content for a given site (in this example, The next step is when you write content, you need to link back to your Google+ profile.

First why, would someone do this? There are quite a few reasons

1 - Manage "brand". Whether it is your personal brand or your corporate brand, it helps build online presence

2 - Search Engine Optimization. Google keeps the magic sauce of its page ranking very close to the vest. However, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has explicitly stated in the future, content linked to online profiles will be ranked higher.

3 - Search Results will be more eye catching. Google will put your author photo into links for pages you have created.

For more on this, Forbes recently published an article about why business should be using Google author tags.

So what are the steps to do this for your site? There are several sites that explain this. Google has a nice introduction as well as the Scott Hanselman post.

The first step is to identify to Google that you contribute to a site. This is done by going to your Google+ profile at and clicking Edit Profile.

Click Add a custom link and link to your blog. I blog a lot for at Skyline Technologies, where I work, so I included a contributor link there. I also blog on my personal site. You will notice that each link has multiple links. This is a result of adding the link manually for each site as well as doing a corresponding email verification. So we have finished part one, letting Google know where we are creating content.

The next step is to update Wordpress to have posts link back my author profile with the author tag. For my profile, the url is You will want to change the really long number to be your profile ID.

I did this in several ways. First, on the main site I have a list of links for things like Twitter and LinkedIn. I included a link to Google+ here also

Next, I update footer.php template for Wordpress to have a link back to the Google Profile. This will ensure each page on the site is identified. Last, the header.php section was updated with a Meta tag

<link rel="author" href="" />

Last, is to add a link to the content.php identifying the author of the article that links back to your Google Profile

By John Ptacek

Okay, we have setup a bunch of links. How do we know if it works? Google has a Structured Data Testing tool that will tell you. If you go to you can check your blog and see if Google recognizes the markup.

You also notice that there is an email verification. This is another way to ensure your links are set. This is the reason two links appear for each site I was a contributor to in my Google Plus profile. I added each URL manually, and then as another level of verification, I verified an email address for each site.

What is the end result? When I search Google for content, my picture is now appearing in the search results

Posts I have a written now appear with a picture next to my name. You can also see that there are several hyperlinks in the search results.

The first, the byline (by John Ptacek) links to my Google+ profile.

The second, More by John Ptacek,

displays articles I have written as well as author information as you can see here

As you can see, it is relatively easy to start identifying content you have created and having increased visibility in page results.

As organizations embrace thought leadership, this is a great tool to ensure your employees and their content continues to be discoverable!


Skyline Annual Retreat

The company I work at, Skyline Technologies, hosts an annual retreat for its associates every year. I thought it would be worth talking about what I think the great things Skyline does at these events and how they help foster and grow great teams.

Our founders, Pat Deprey and Keith Kaufman, felt it was important that our associates and their families get to know one another. When you are a consulting company, with associates at various customer locations, it takes organizational focus to make sure people know one another and feel like part of the organization. We have now had the annual retreat for over twenty years, with CEO changes and ups and downs in the economy; preserving the Annual Retreat has always been a top priority. As a matter of fact, as we have added offices in Appleton and Milwaukee, and have associates working all over Wisconsin and the Midwest, it has become even more important.

Previous years have been in Sister Bay, WI, where we took up two different resorts. As our company grows, especially our Milwaukee office, we moved the event further south in Door County to Egg Harbor so we could have all associates at a single location.

So what makes our Annual Retreat such a great event? Let's talk about a few of the ways company get-togethers can help any group grow the strength of their organization:

Family Fun

Here is a picture of my kids and their friends as we headed on the road.

As you can see, they are an excited group. The Skyline team that puts together the Annual Retreat makes sure that there are events going on throughout the weekend for families. Some of those events are kid friendly, some of those events are spouse friendly, and some of them are even teenager friendly.

Friday night starts off with a dinner where associates and their families have the opportunity to get together and socialize. The team I am part of, has associates working out of Madison, Milwaukee, Appleton and Green Bay, and we are pretty evenly distributed. The dinner and social aspects of the weekend are one of the few times each year we are all in the same place and get to have fun together.

On Saturday, we have an overview of the business and how things are going for the company and where we are going. Associates are encouraged to invite their spouses/significant others to join the meeting and learn about the company. With so many new associates joining each year, it is a great way to introduce the organization to our associates' families. For new associates, it really drives home what makes Skyline different from other consulting and tech companies in the Midwest.

Fun Events

Organizationally, Skyline is also committed to making a fun work environment. We even have a Director of Fun, who organizes events throughout the year. Door County is littered with events for associates and/or their families to attend. A small example of them:

  • Poker Game

  • Cribbage Game

  • Board Games like Settles of Catan, Carcassone and many more

  • Scavenger Hunt

  • Magic Show

  • Fish Boil

  • Bonfire and Smores

  • Karaoke

As you can see from some of these pictures, a good time is had by all!

Associate Recognition

Another big highlight during our Annual Retreat are the associate recognition awards. In the state of Wisconsin, Skyline has more certifications than any other Microsoft partner. Below is a picture of all the associates who received certifications in the last year.

This is one example of an award during the weekend. Skyline has always made it a point of recognizing associates who contribute to our organization. These awards have become one of the highlights of the annual retreat. One of the best parts is recognizing the people who do good work in front of their spouse/significant as well as their peers.

Highlights for making a great company event

  • Make it family friendly

  • Provide opportunities for spouses and significant other to learn about the company and its leaders

  • Provide recognition for employees

  • Have events for employees and their families

  • Provide downtime

  • Provide opportunities for community


Setting up email for a Custom Domain on a Windows Azure hosted website

Update - May 27, 2014 Microsoft has announced that it will no longer support custom domains using Outlook.Com. As a result, this content of this post is no longer valid. They are encouraging customers to use Office 365 moving forward. You can find out more at

The blog site you are currently on,, is using Windows Azure websites, which is a great way to quickly get a web presence up and running. The site also provides very low barrier to entry for setting up blogging engines or CMS applications. The one thing it does not do though is offer email services out of the box.

One way to remedy this is to use Google Apps to create a domain for hosting of email. I use Google Apps for my personal email for me and my family and it works great. In the hope of learning something new, I thought I would see what Microsoft has to offer in the space and see what setup was like.

In the Microsoft world, their Google Apps competitor is really Office 365. This is overkill for what I want, since I am just looking for email. It also costs money. Microsoft offers Custom Domains which allows us to use the Outlook.Com email service for our domain.

Steps for getting this setup

  1. Go to Note, you are going to want to use Chrome for this. The IE 10 browser looks awful

Versus Chrome

  1. Click the sign in button and use your Microsoft account and then click the Get Started link
  2. Type in the custom domain you will want email for, in our case, Make sure Set up is selected for your domain mail service, and then hit the continue button
  3. You will then need to battle Microsoft's exceedingly unforgiving CAPTCHA system, after which you will be taken to the registration screen. The first step is to configure the MX record (MX is the DNS record used for mail)
  4. Log onto your DNS provider, in our case, and add the record. This varies by DNS provider. IN the case on DNSimple, we go to the Advanced section, and choose Add a Record and select MX from the dropdown
  5. Our next step is to create a server trust record as recommended on the admin screen. This is a TXT DNS record that helps verify our email address and helps prevent the email from the site from being marked as junk
  6. Next, we want a URL we can use to access our email. To do this, we create a CNAME record that points back to the Hotmail/Outlook . We will use mail, so will be the URL we use when accessing email. You could use kwyjibo if you wanted to, just remember it J The CNAME record needs to point back to  

  1. It can take up to 60 minutes for your domain to resolve, you can see if your domain records are updated by using your favorite command prompt and typing the commands

    1. nslookup -type=mx
    2. nslookup -type=txt

These should display values you entered earlier

  1. Return to and log in with your Microsoft account. It will show you the domains. In this step, the DNS configuration can take a while too
  2. When your domain is active, you can add accounts, up to 50 of them. To do this click the domain name, and click the Add button for member accounts

Enter the account you want to create a long with a password


You are done! You can now go to newly created email site for your custom domain, and login with your user name.


You can now email me at blog [@]

Update - May 27, 2014 Microsoft has announced that it will no longer support custom domains using Outlook.Com. As a result, this content of this post is no longer valid. They are encouraging customers to use Office 365 moving forward. You can find out more at


John Ptacek I'm John Ptacek, a software developer for Skyline Technologies. This blog is my contains my content and opinionss, which are not those of my employer.

Currently, I am reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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