What Google Authorship Means for SEO

by Stuart McHenry

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This is a guest post by Stuart McHenry.

Staying on top of SEO techniques and methods means you have to pay close attention to Google. The new Google Authorship markup is the new kid in town when it comes to on-site optimization. Google Authorship connects all of the articles you have published on the internet which gives you clout as an author but it does more than that.

Search Engine Results Page

Just by placing a Rel Author tag on every article you post online is putting you online as an author, which means your reputation as an author is put out there as well. Those that see the article in the search results will see more than just an article with your name in the byline. Surfers will see your photo, how many people are following you on Google + and even other articles you have written. This can be a real critical step in helping with your Google SEO efforts.

It connects to the person you are as a writer or author. What this means is that the more information you provide especially on the same subject you will gain trust. For those wanting to gain more traffic for specific keywords should write more articles regarding that theme in order to gain trust on the subject.

Everything You Need To Know About Google Authorship in 8 Minutes


Chris Countey, Director of SEO at WebiMax gave this talk at the SEOmoz Meetup at the Search Church on 5/10/12.

Click Through Rate Increase

If you have your authorship show up on the search results page, you will receive a higher click through rate. The reason is that surfers like to know who wrote the articles they are reading and with Google Authorship, they will even be able to put a face with the name. Since they can also see how many people are following they may want to learn more about your followers and the reasons they are interested in what you have to say.

Published Entries

Within the search results, surfers will be able to easily click on the more, which will take them to a page with snippets of all of your published articles that you have included the Rel Authorship tag. Now, these surfers will be able to read more of the articles you have written on the subjects of interest along with the websites that are publishing your works. If this person likes your topics, your ideas, or just the way in which you write, they can ask you to add them to your circle or just follow you on other network outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Google+ Profile

If you have Google Authorship, surfers can click on the author byline on the search engine results page and be taken directly to your Google+ profile page. From here, they will easily be able to add you to their circles so they stay up to date with all the content you publish.

The more people that add you to their circles, follow you on media networks, and click on your content, give you more clout or authority as an author. The more visitors you have the more click through rate you will be able to enjoy.

Conclusion

Building quality relationships can be vital to gaining links and exposure with SEO. Google has the dream of identifying high quality sources of original content; Google Authorship may just be one of the best ways to do just that along with giving authors the ability to become trusted experts in their field of topics. Author ranking will increase the importance of the new method of finding high quality content as more and more people begin to use the technology. For content writers, high quality author pages that offer proper keyword placement and valuable content will receive better exposure while all new content on the same topic will help influence the authority and expertise of the author on the subject matter.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice Cornelios June 22, 2013 at 4:40 am

Thanks Stuart, I thought that rel=author will just give me a mug shot on the search engines but now I know that this gives me more than just good seo. But, I am doing it differently though in my wordpress blog. I use plug in for authorship, is that ok? Do I get the same benefit still?
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Vandhana Karthick
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 3:02 am

Thanks for the article these while seeing in search I am confused and I do not know how name and face image of the author or website is published. Now I come to know that it is very simple I will implement right to my website.Thanks for writing in very simple English.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Hi Vandhana,
Thanks for letting us know that you found Stuart’s post easy to read. I personally strive to write in English not Geek. :) Good luck with getting your Google Authorship to work. If you encounter problems, I replied below to Heather with the solution that worked for me. I hope to write a follow-up post on authorship that’s more of a how-to article to compliment this one.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Basic Steps to Better Blogging, Better Branding and More BusinessMy Profile

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Justin
Twitter:
November 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Hmm… interesting concept. What would be the best to put for say… a forum, where there are always going to be multiple authors?

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Hi Justin,
That’s an interesting question. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen author profiles in the Google search results from posts in forums. I’ll keep an eye out for that in the future. Meanwhile, maybe some else here knows the answer to that.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Sitizens Online Social Game – My Top Referral Traffic SourceMy Profile

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Wayne Melton
Twitter:
November 14, 2012 at 7:53 am

So I guess I am a little lost on this subject and need to research it more. So your article and others seems to suggest putting up the rel: author tag on each article on your website. However through google plus you can accomplish the same thing with 100 people following you in your circle and signing up for their authorship.I am not much to adding code so the google method really works. Am I mistaken?ThanksWayne Melton

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Hi Wayne,
There is a lot of confusion surrounding this topic but it’s really more straightforward than people think. Once you set up Google Authorship and you configure it into your WordPress blog, it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it again. The rel author tag will automatically be assigned to the articles on that blog.

If you were to start writing for another blog, you would just add that blog to your profile. As for the relationship of Google+ in all this, it’s simply a matter of setting up your profile. You don’t have to be active on Google+ for this to work.

Thanks for letting me know that you still feel a little lost on this subject. It’s become clear to me that I need to delve into this a little deeper in another blog post.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Change a WordPress Theme and Keep your SEO Meta Tag DataMy Profile

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Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I work at a SEO company and I couldn’t agree more with your article. Staying on top of Google algorithm changes is crucial, and it seems like they’re somehow getting even sneakier about their updates. :/
Jennifer recently posted..NYC’s Supervillan Gold Vault Escaped Sandy’s WrathMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry November 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Hi Jennifer,
I think there’s a lot written about the different algorithm changes that Google makes. The challenge is trying to keep up with them. Bottom line, I think what’s most important for bloggers is to write fresh relevant content that resonates with readers. Optimize it the best you can for the keyword phrases that you want to be found for but remember that we’re writing for humans not bots.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Change a WordPress Theme and Keep your SEO Meta Tag DataMy Profile

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Mitch Mitchell November 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I love seeing my image next to articles on search, but I have to say that I haven’t noticed any increase in traffic for any of my blogs since it started showing up. Maybe I need to figure out how to look like a supermodel. lol
Mitch Mitchell recently posted..Are You An Online Troll?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Mitch,
In the past few months, I’ve been noticing a significant increase in organic search traffic. Now, I may just be getting better at SEO but I attribute at least part of it to setting up Google Authorship.

I know it’s not scientific but I just did a quick analysis of my GA based on the period when I first set up the rel=author (July 20th) compared to the prior time period. The number of visits that I received from organic searches has increased by 95%. I’m sure there are other contributing factors but I didn’t consciously make any significant changes to my SEO strategy. Maybe changes to Google’s algorithm actually helped me. What do you think?
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Change a WordPress Theme and Keep your SEO Meta Tag DataMy Profile

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Mitch Mitchell November 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

It could be changes in other things. The reason I don’t think it’s the authorship is that around the same time on one of my blogs, I’m Just Sharing to be precise, I was also approved for authorship, and I was running an experiment on posting times. And my traffic didn’t increase in any significant numbers during that period at all, either with the authorship or the test.
Mitch Mitchell recently posted..Posting Times – The ExperimentMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry November 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm

A lot of it may just be good content that’s well written and optimized. When I took another look at which articles are getting the most views, I found that 4 of the top 10 articles on my blog were written by guest bloggers. I set up guest bloggers as authors. So, authorship is not having an affect on them.

Anyways, I’m very happy with the growth in organic search traffic and I’m done trying to analyze it any more (at least for now). The good news is that by taking a deeper look at the content, I found which guest posts are doing well. (BTW – I was debating whether or not to continue accepting guest posts.)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Change a WordPress Theme and Keep your SEO Meta Tag DataMy Profile

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Joseph October 22, 2012 at 2:39 am

From the standpoint of a reader, I think Google Authorship has changed the way I look for content. I have already added quite a few bloggers to G+ circle and of late I check their blogs for any updates first and then go browsing on the search engine. I am finding more valuable content and thankfully, sites that repeat the same content are being kept off my search list. Thanks for sharing this Stuart.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Hi Joseph,
Thanks for letting us know that you enjoyed Stuart’s post. I appreciate the Google Authorship myself. There are so many bloggers who I recognize and trust now that it’s almost a relief to recognize their profile pics in the search results. There are certain people who I know I can count on to provide valuable, accurate information. So, often, it saves me time when I’m searching for a resource.

Thanks for weighing in on this topic.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Are You Using Google AdWords for Pay Per Click Advertising?My Profile

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Megan October 19, 2012 at 2:27 am

It’s nice to see that your are trying to let people know of the advantages of having Google authorship. For many people, I think it hasn’t quite sunk in just how big of a deal this is. It could be your ticket to making a good online reputation.

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Stuart McHenry October 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Megan, you are so right. I think only a small percentage of people are using it and know the benefits.

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Alex October 18, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Hi Stuart, Google Authorship does mean that your ranking on a search engine will go up. It means more people will read your content, more traffic will be attracted to your site and more people will subscribe to you. Thanks for sharing this. I hope more bloggers will take advantage of Google Authorship.

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Stuart McHenry October 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm

It really helps with CTR and branding both from a personal and company stand point.

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Harry October 18, 2012 at 12:53 am

Hey Sherryl, thanks for posting this. I think Google Authorship is one of the best things that could have happened to the blogging world. A blogger can gain a lot of online reputation through this. He can also get the credit he deserves for the hardwork put in to make his posts authorship worthy. Thanks Stuart for sharing this with us.

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Smith October 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Hi Stuart and Sherryl, Thank you for sharing this post with us. I think a lot of people are not yet aware of what Google Authorship can do for bloggers in terms of page ranking, upsurge of traffic and also in terms of giving authors an online reputation. The readers are also benefiting as they get to see the most relevant content according to their search and can get much more to browse through because of Google Authorship.
Smith recently posted..NYC Weddings: Planning a One of a Kind WeddingMy Profile

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Stuart McHenry October 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

You bring up a great point. It is increasing the user experience and users are able to find related content via the authors.

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David October 17, 2012 at 2:18 am

Hi Stuart, Great post. I set my Google Authorship just recently and I have seen an upsurge in traffic. The number of views has increased so have the comments. And mind you, these are not generic comments. Most of these people have a lot of inputs that make the post better and the conversation more meaningful. I am not really active on Google Plus but I’m sure if I check that profile now, I’ll see an increase in the number of people who have added me to their circle. Just goes to show how authorship is helping both bloggers and readers.

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Stuart McHenry October 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Yes! Great example of how it’s done right. I know when I first implemented it we saw an decent increase in our CTR. Evey little bit helps.

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Heather
Twitter:
October 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

It sounds interesting, but how do you add yourself as an author on google?
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Heather
Twitter:
October 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I tried watching the video but the first few minutes the speaker just talked about how important he was, and videos just take forever to upload. I much prefer reading about how to do something new as its faster and easier to understand.
Your article discusses the benefits of google authorship, but is very vague on how to actually do it. I find so much of google is like that. It’s incredibly confusing unless you know what you’re doing, if you don’t you’re stuck watching endless videos and reading tutorials.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Heather,
It can be confusing to verify Google Authorship and get the Rel=Author tag to work. I attempted writing an article for my blog explaining how to go about this (and I abandoned it). The problem is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution because there are so many different themes and plugins that can cause something to go awry.

I tried one solution that sent me down a course where I was encountering errors verifying my authorship on Google. I found the solution that worked for me here: http://dempseymarketing.com/relauthor-plugin-for-wordpress/. Not only has Robert Dempsey created a plugin, he walks you through it step-by-step. Hopefully, it will work for you. (If it doesn’t, let me know and I’ll try to find you another solution.)

BTW – In most cases, I prefer reading a succinct tutorial over watching a video too.

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Heather
Twitter:
October 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Thank you Sherryl! That’s really helpful. I’m glad I’m not the only one that finds Google impossibly confusing.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 27, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Hi Heather,
Thanks for letting me know that you found that link helpful. Being able to write well and make it easy for someone to tap into a tool like Google author is a real talent. There are lots of articles on how to do this but (as I mentioned above) it is not a one-size-fits all solution. The good news is that once you get it to work, you can forget about it and move on to the next challenge. :)

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Susan Cooper
Twitter:
October 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I have heard about this of late. I appreciate how you explain what it is and how it could be of benefit to a blogger like me. My next steps are now to figure out how maximize the opportunity this represents.
Susan Cooper recently posted..Guest Post by Patrick Huff – Bitches Brew: BeerMy Profile

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jawad zaib
Twitter:
October 15, 2012 at 9:29 am

i am not a SEO expert but i think Google authorship is good for click through, anyway Stuart McHenry the video is great it explained every thing in such a short time thanks for this great post and keep up the good work…

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Stuart McHenry October 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Yes, Chris Countey gave a great presentation on Authorship and it really makes it easy for people to understand.

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Keyuri Joshi
Twitter:
October 15, 2012 at 7:31 am

I have never heard of google authorship and look forward to investigating further. This blog has been one of the best places to pick up helpful information about maximizing blogging and web presence!

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Stuart McHenry October 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

You must go and implement it as soon as possible. It will increase your CTR and to be honest… having your picture in the Google results is kinda cool.

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Andreas Fairnie October 15, 2012 at 5:00 am

It\’s a great idea to have a real author tag due to the weight it carries in Google authorship and author rank there is a possibility that it might become an important part in Google page rank algorithm.

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Stuart McHenry October 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Andreas, you are correct. Once Google starts getting more and more people using it I’m sure they will use the signal more for ranking purposes of a page.

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Kimberly October 15, 2012 at 1:35 am

I think Google Authorship is a great way to get maximum attention to yourself as an author. Also, you can target quality audience via authorship. From the point of view of a reader too, it has great benefits. You can look up the various articles written by the author and also get a better understanding of the knowledge area and the quality of articles of the author by checking other articles as well as followers of the author.

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Stuart McHenry October 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Google does make this so easy. You can click on a link next to the author image in the SERPS that will then show all the posts by that person.

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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I still have to get this done and I can see benefits. The funny thing is when I see someone’s picture I think they have a video rather than an article. Stuart, I know you said there was a higher click through. Are there any studies that show this result and if it leads to sales or subscriptions etc?
Susan Oakes recently posted..Do You Use Simplicity For Competitive Advantage?My Profile

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Catarina
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 6:57 am

Agree with you that it is a good idea to have a real author tag. Did it recently and if I search on articles already published it works. Published another post about an hour ago. When I search on it my photo is not yet next to it. So it seems it takes a while for it to work:-)

It’s too early to tell how much impact it has on the amount of clicks I get.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 10:38 am

Often, it’s difficult to pinpoint the impact that a change like this makes but I have noticed a significant increase in my organic search traffic since I implemented Google Authorship. It certainly has to help brand you and build awareness of your blog. There are still so many people who haven’t implemented this yet that I think those of us that have really stand on on the search result pages.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Cloud Computing Safe for Your Business?My Profile

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Stuart McHenry October 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

There are other factors as well. If there are too many pictures already shown in a specific search I’ve noticed that they only show 2-4 of them and leave a few out. Plus, if one is already yours they usually won’t show a 2nd one.

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Ileane
Twitter:
October 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Hi Stuart and Sherryl,
I agree about the importance of Google Authorship and Author Rank. I feel that eventually this will become a part of the Google Page Rank algorithm also.
I recently took part in a panel discussion on the topic over on Google + and some interesting questions came to the surface as a result. One thing that Google wants is for people to use a head shot in their profile pic. If you are using a logo or a cartoon, it won’t to through. I think Google is using some type of recognition software for this.

Thanks for bringing up the topic!

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Hi Ileane,
It’s great to see you here. Thanks for the link to the article about your workshop. That will be a good resource for some of the readers here.

That’s an interesting point about Google wanting head-shots rather than logos or cartoons. There is always something going on with Google and their search algorithms. Have you ever heard anything about the value of sticking with the same profile pic? I’ve been hesitant to change mine because I feel so many people recognize me that I might lose them if I changed it.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How Start Ups Can Benefit From Geo-TargetingMy Profile

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Ray October 13, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I did actually see a cartoon or logo in google search today yet. Maybe a few slip through yet. Most of what I do see are head shots. I have been using my little logo image for several years and I am just not ready to use a head shot even if it means less exposure. One of these days I may do it.

I think selecting a good image and using the same one consistently is the route to go. I know I get used to seeing a familiar face and if it were to change it would take me a while to realize it’s the same person. It would depend on how much it changed though.
Ray recently posted..Facebook vs. GoogleMy Profile

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Ileane
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

Ray – Ana Hoffman had similar concerns when she changed her profile pic recently. She let her readers choose from two different images and now she even has the new one showing on her blog header. I know this was a huge deal for her since everyone was familiar with the old look of Traffic Generation Cafe. But she agreed that changing the profile pic was partially responsible for getting her Google Authorship. The other thing she did was change her settings on Thesis to “index” her author page.
Ileane recently posted..How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your WebsiteMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

Changing her settings on Thesis to “index” her author page? Thanks for the tip. I’ll do that right now!

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

Ray,
We’ve been sharing each others content for a while now and I have certainly grown to recognize your Gravatar. Having said that, I try to check my new Twitter followers daily to follow back those who I feel are legitimate people (not spammers or spambots for example). I have to admit that if I’m really strapped for time, I sometimes skip over the profiles that have logos for their profile pic. Obviously, I found and followed you but it may have been because your shared one of my posts.

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Ileane
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 8:06 am

Sherryl, it’s fine to change it as long as it’s a front facing headshot. Here’s what I would do – change it on Gravatar and Twitter first before changing it on Google + That way, even if Google has a “human” algorithm they will see that it’s really you! :)
Ileane recently posted..5 Free Google Tools That Everyone Should Be UsingMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

I’ve learned 2 thing from you today Ileane. :) Thanks for taking the time to come back and answer my question. I’m sure a lot of readers here will appreciate what you’ve added to the conversation.

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Ian Eberle
Twitter:
October 13, 2012 at 12:58 am

I don’t know about SEO, but I know that Google Authorship has improved my clickthrough from Google. People see your image and are automatically drawn to clicking the link next to it.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Ian,
Thanks for letting us know that using Google Authorship has improved your clickthrough rate. I agree that people who recognize you, are more apt to click on your link in the search results than that of someone who they don’t know. It’s all part of the name/brand recognition that we’re striving for.

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Stuart McHenry October 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Yes, our click through rate on blog has dramatically increased. It’s great for those of us utilizing it.

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Paul Profitt
Twitter:
October 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Hi Sherryl and Stuart

I first noticed my Google Authorship picture about 4 months ago in Google search. I just had to double check that it was still there before reading this article. I have noticed a sudden rise in my G+ followers but I have no idea if it is just a random thing. Or if it is down to my new Authorship status. I suppose only time will tell.
Paul Profitt recently posted..3 Myths About Traffic That You Should Not BelieveMy Profile

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Stuart McHenry October 13, 2012 at 12:44 am

Hey Paul!

I believe my followers are coming from the SERPS. Plus studies have shown that the picture helps with CTR in a huge way.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Hi Paul,
I’ve noticed a rise in my organic search traffic since I’ve set Google authorship up. I’ll have to check my G+ followers. I maintain a presence on G+ but I confess that I’m not as active on there as I should be.

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Paul Profitt
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Hi Sherryl

My organic search traffic has gone down by roughly 20% since I’ve set Google authorship up. But my referral and direct traffic have both gone up by about 10% each. So I now have a much more even spread of my traffic sources.
Paul Profitt recently posted..Why Does Affiliate Marketing Suck?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Paul, Don’t you suspect that the drop in traffic may be due to Google’s recent algorithm changes? You don’t think it’s related to setting up Google authorship do you?

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Paul Profitt
Twitter:
October 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Hi Sherryl I’m not sure if Google’s recent algorithm change had anything to do with my traffic stats. If it has, then I thank them. Because it means that I now, don’t have to be so dependent on Google for my traffic.
Paul Profitt recently posted..Why Does Affiliate Marketing Suck?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

We all need to be less dependent on Google Paul. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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