Google’s Authorship feature may be having some nasty effects.
In a nutshell, Google Authorship is about linking a specific piece of content with a specific person or web site via a Google Plus profile.
But what happens if someone republishes content from a site on their own without attribution and adds their own authorship tags; particularly in the case where the original site doesn’t have authorship implemented?
Nobody knows for sure yet, but a recent case published on Search Engine Land indicates it may have a negative affect on the original site, with Google *perhaps* seeing the copycat site’s version as the original copy.
If Google is already weighting the G Authorship signal rather heavily, then it could possibly not only boost the copycat’s site but also push down the original source for publishing duplicate content – a double whammy.
If this is correct, it could have massive implications and no doubt word of this getting around will pique the curiosity of the more black-hat and unscrupulous among the SEO fraternity. Sure, Google will likely crack down on the practice somehow; but when? The damage in the interim could be substantial.
Hopefully someone from Google might clarify the situation as this will rightfully concern many site owners. If it does turn out to be true, it’s a bit of a shame as I feel Google had been making some great strides in defeating black hat SEO over the last year. Something like this could really open the floodgates.
While the situation is unclear, if you haven’t yet implemented Google Authorship; it might be worthwhile considering as a safety measure more than anything else. A more cynical person may even suggest this is how Google will get folks adopting Authorship en masse ;)
Learn more about Google Authorship.