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Google Authorship Images: How is it Impacting Rankings?

By Posted in Local SEO Google Authorship


On January 9th, an article was posted saying that Google+ authorship pictures would start being removed from the search engine results. This is a pretty big deal because this is a technique that can potentially increase CTR’s by up to 150% .

In the article, a Moz.com post, it was said that Cutts would decrease the number of Google+ authorship pics by over 15% and a looming threat that all Google+ pics associated with sites such as your homepage would vanish.

Well, in order to see just how many search engine results would have their pictures removed I began tracking certain searches in the legal field, which has a lot of Google+ authorship pictures associated with their homepage. Here are the details of how I performed the study:

  • Started testing on the same day that the MozCast Feature Graph showed an “Authorship Shake-up”
  • Used Chrome Incognito 
for searches
  • For each search, changed the search location under “Search tools” drop down to the location of where in the U.S. the search should occur. (i.e., Sacramento, CA for Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer)
  • Checked the results daily, 5 days a week, Monday – Friday. Counted the number of search results with a Google+ authorship photo on pages 1 – 10

The results were contrary to what was anticipated. Instead of pictures disappearing, there was an increase in the number of sites with Google+ pics! In fact, an average increase of 10.29% was seen. Moz.com’s feature monitor graph shows a similar increase.

The graphs provided below are a snapshot of the results. They do not show all 10 pages of results for each search, but do show the first two pages as well as the total of all 10 pages. As you can see, there has been an increase in the number of Google+ authorship pictures in the search results. The only one that did not show a percentage gain was the New York test, which oddly enough had the most number of Google+ authorship pictures showing up on the day that MozCast feature monitor graph was showing the lowest results. It also continued to have the most Google+ pictures showing up throughout the whole test.


The Kansas City search showed a percentage increase in the number of Google+ authorship pictures showing up by 15.38%.


The Washington DC search showed a percentage increase in the number of Google+ authorship pictures showing up by 21.43%.


The Sacramento search showed a percentage increase in the number of Google+ authorship pictures showing up by 15.79%.


The New York search showed a percentage decrease in the number of Google+ authorship pictures showing up by -11.43%.

One note of interest is that during the testing, several Google+ authorship pictures did indeed vanish, but overall there was an overall increase in the total number. So, that begs the question. Will the increase continue…or is this just a cruel tease, a calm before the storm?

(1) peeps have had something to say...

  • John - Reply

    May 18, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    I was emailing with Jon Mueller from Google. He was pretty clear that authorship is only meant for articles. He recommended that publisher be used on the whole site, while authorship, only on the blog and articles. I was pretty surprised by this at first. I wanted to have a photo on other pages in the serps to encourage CTR. But I guess that is not the way Google wants it.

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