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Can adding rel=author have a negative effect on traffic?

     
3:08 pm on May 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Do you think adding the rel=Author can have a negative impact on either the SERPs or the Click Through Rates?

On some article content we noticed no change in the SERPs, no change in the amount of searches but a 50% drop in CTR (click through rate). It was on April 25. A few days earlier we connected our G+ profile to these articles.

Please note that CTR can also change due to layout changes on the search result pages. Did someone notice layout changes on April 25?

Has anyone experienced a sharp drop in CTR without changes in SERPs?
10:39 am on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I added authorship and publisher probably almost 2 months ago (I do not belong to many circles). My site has continued to slide down though I cannot say if that is due to panda, author markup or other changes I have done..
11:24 am on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Author markup is considered good from Google point of view, but there was a lot of drop in CTR anyway recovered later. Please wait for some time it will come normal as previous.
11:34 am on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Webinacube Can you elaborate? Please share your experience.
Somehow it does not make sense, unless people prefer not to click on links with face images...
11:37 am on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I attributed the CTR on one of my rel=author sites with a poor G+ profile picture. I made a brighter and more fun picture and the CTR raised up greatly.

I would test more G+ pics, but since G's Webmaster tools is my only tool to really check CTRs, it is a lengthy process. It needs 30 days of data to be able to see anything.
11:44 am on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Pjman that is a very good point. I actually knew it had an influence, but I never took into consideration that a "bad" picture could be worse that no picture. Still skeptical.

I will test it now and let you know.
4:30 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I had a similar experience: added authorship to a website that already held #1 for its main keywords and the CTR dropped. I have since removed authorship from the home page, but left it on "About us" page.

My belief is that having a picture of author on the eCom website may make the business less "businesslike".

Thinking further from my own point of view, if I am buying something, I do not want to see the picture of an employee (or someone) next to the product I wish to buy. It just makes the site look more amateurish.

It could work well with reviews, blogs and similar, but not on home pages or product pages. This is why I have left authorship on "About us" page only - it makes more sense having it there than on the home page or product page.

Perhaps CTR may be increased if the site ranks further down the SERPs.
4:48 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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My belief is that having a picture of author on the eCom website may make the business less "businesslike".


You may be right. I'm an introverted geek so I tend to think what I like is not universal. But I do have this reaction to grinning photos. I need to know if you know what you're doing and will give me a good ROI, not how good you can look in a headshot. Also, if the headshot looks pro, I'm thinking "So that's part of the overhead I'll be paying for if I do business with you."

A photo of an object, however - say your company logo or a top product - does not turn me off. Also, I think, say, a photo of several staff members looking cheerful and ready to help me could be fine.

This is why I wish Google + would offer business profiles that don't require being connected to a personal profile. In Facebook, at least your business/fan pages don't connect to the personal, so no one can go snooping to find out if you're ugly or you work on 6 other websites or whatever.
5:29 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A photo of an object, however - say your company logo or a top product - does not turn me off.


I think that rel publisher meant to show company logo and I have implemented this too, but is not showing in SERPs even though the Google Structured tool shows it ok and the publisher markup is verified.

It seems that it is much more difficult getting Google to show the publisher logo in SERPs.

Who knows, maybe G. plans to charge for this in the future....
6:26 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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aakk9999, actually I think that may be what Google intends, unfortunately. I think they want the SE to be more like social media, and think big grinning faces are the way to go. I personally think they are mistaken - not just because I'd prefer they do things differently, but because search just can't be social media, and shouldn't try to be. It's one thing for Google+ to work like Facebook, but something else for Google Search to incorporate too much of it.
6:47 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I changed the profile image and will let you know within a week or two.

@aakk9999 I placed it in an article in the education industry ("how to..."), it is not in ecom and I wouldn't recommend placing rel=author on any page except those that were well written by humans. Sooner or later there will be more sophisticated spam filters and one doesn't want to have rel=autor all over auto-generated product pages...
7:14 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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one doesn't want to have rel=autor all over auto-generated product pages...

Agree.

This is why I have only left it on the About Us page - where it features the company director.

Home page is waiting for rel publisher - if it ever arrives...
7:23 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Interesting - I know of one competitor that has put authorship to pretty much every page on their site (of aprox 25,000 pages).

Doing the site: command, I can see that there is only ONE photo per SERPs page shown, with all other entries having "by author name" just above the description, but these entries do not feature photos.

So it seems Google is limiting showing the same photos to one entry per SERPs. Changing number of entries on SERPs to lets say 50, still shows only one photo for the same person despite all other entries having "by author name" - just no photo shown.
4:50 pm on June 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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After the CTR drop we also noticed a SERP drop...

Yesterday I changed the "Contributions" in Google Plus to "Private View" (which is basically like removing or disallowing the rel=auth).

Traffic on these pages are back to normal...

Don't place rel=author unless you use Google Plus regularly, posting public posts a few times every day, interact with your followers from Indonesia to Croatia and react to other posts. That is what I have learned...
4:55 pm on June 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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G+ has been a ghost town for me. I definitely hurt my older sites by not posting regularly. I just don't have time to post to something that no one is interacting with.
6:42 pm on June 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A-men - the time, where is a person supposed to get the time to sit on G+ or any other SN for that matter? How can you create, etc., and waste your time looking at pictures of everyone's animals or kids?

Sorry...frustrations levels running very high. Trying to find a new way of making a living but this is all I know - been doing it so long, but everything is topsy-turvy now. Sad. :(
10:49 pm on June 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I added rel=author yesterday and pointed it towards my G+ Business page and overnight my conversions DOUBLED (from organic searches) however my SERP's have slightly dropped.

I'm trying to understand what exactly happened. Is this due to my change (which I thought is very unlikely seeing as it happened within 12 hours) or due to panda/penguin?
12:41 am on June 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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They might have picked up your G+ pic. If its a good pic, it can boost ur CTR. But 24 hours seems too quick.
8:49 am on June 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Depends if you are promoting an article by an author. If this is the case then it might assist with CTR.

If applied to a site for SEO benefit, currently has little value, in my experience Twitter actitivy has more impact on SERPs.