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Can Google Authorship Kill Traffic?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday May 31, 2013 )

I’ve just read a very interesting report on one site owner’s experience with having their headshot next to Google listings.This site owner reports after his photo appeared next to listings, while his positions didn’t change the number of clicks plummeted by 50%-90%.

After reading through his situation and thinking about my own Google usage, I think he and some of the subsequent commenters spot on with regard to the theory that having his authorship image next to listings associated with purchasing or downloading products isn’t such a good idea.

When I’m looking for reviews about products or general information; a listing with an authorship image is one I may click one. When I’m looking to buy a product, I’ll avoid it as I associate those listing with info or opinions rather than purchasing.

I set up Google authorship for a couple of my sites recently – one is an information site, the other an ecommerce site. 5 minutes after setting up authorship for the ecommerce site, I pulled the code after viewing a preview in Google’s rich snippets verification tool. It dawned on me then that all the products on that site were going to look like reviews rather than “buy” pages – something I definitely didn’t want.

While there are ways around the issue, it involves setting up authorship in a way that Google did not intend at this point.

Authorship at this stage is about individuals, not brands. I’ve seen some companies setting up personal Google+ pages as brand pages, but this falls outside how those pages are meant to be used.

Aside from possibly invoking Google’s wrath (as it really is an attempt to game the SERPs), setting up a personal Google+ page as a brand page may in some instances – as mentioned above –  possibly be counterproductive.


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