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Authorship had nothing to do with this site's drop. The site has been affected by our Penguin webspam algorithm and that accounts for the drop. See http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/penguin-2-0-rolled-out-today/ for details of the recent Penguin launch, or http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-s... for more information about Penguin in general.

Still #1 when I search and that's not even what he's talking about.

He's claiming that having a G+ picture inserted next to search results is resulting in a much lower CTR than they previously had.

Which I think is plausible as it detracts from the search experience, I often skip those results as the text isn't lined up so I can't scan it properly. Wish you could turn them off, it's really off putting. I also wonder what the CTRs of pretty people are like compared to munters. I still don't get why Google added it.

I'm traveling, so it will be a while before I can check with the team, but the initial message that kicked off his investigation referred to clicks to his site, which I believe can include overall traffic to his site. I'll double-check when I'm back from traveling though.

I was also responding to the overall headline of his site ("How Google Authorship decreased our traffic by 90%") because there are other reasons for the decline in traffic to his site. The headline is definitely overstating things; the article itself concludes "Turns out, it's not that simple. Some pages moved down, but some have improved drastically." And on the graph he shows, the worst CTR decrease is -57% while the best CTR increase is 329%.

So I think the headline of this article ("How Google Authorship decreased our traffic by 90%") remains inaccurate.

Just to follow up on this: I did check with the team, and the message that Jitbit received ("Search results clicks for http://www.jitbit.com/xxxxxxxx/ have decreased significantly") pertains to the amount of clicks per day, not clickthrough.

In other words, the message that Jitbit received--and that sparked this article--meant that Jitbit was getting less overall traffic from Google, not that clickthroughs had gone down. That's consistent with the site being affected by Penguin as well.

The article is admittedly bad and rather annoyingly he doesn't seem to show the actual results for the page he was talking about.

Rather ironically at the moment it seems to be one of the best indicators that the article is farm spam and should be ignored. Apart from when I see your handsome face or Scott Hanselman's of course! Personally, I dislike the feature and wish I could turn it off for my search results, it adds negative value for me and I keep meaning to set up a script to disable it but my quick experiments in the dev console screwed with the page layout.

Could you tell us how much a picture improves or alternatively adversely affects the CTR? And which pictures are winners and which are losers? Or perhaps it has no effect? Stats!

>>he doesn't seem to show the actual results for the page he was talking about

(post author here) I did post the screenshot of the results page, it includes my page, not hiding anything

You might miss this now as it's late, but the screen shot of your traffic results doesn't include the page '/macro-recorder' in the section titled 'It's not that simple'. That's the page you were talking about in the paragraphs above in the article, that's the page that's still number 1 in google when I search and still has your screenshot next to it when I search for 'macro recorder'.

It's the crux of your argument and it's completely missing, it's the only relevant page, everything else is almost completely irrelevant.

I'm not at all disbelieving you, but I'm also honestly saying you don't really seem to understand the scientific method if you think what you published is good enough to support what you've claimed. It's a half finished investigation, the facts are completely inconclusive.

And that's what undermines a lot of SEO experts opinion still today. Speculation without fact. Your post at the moment is plausible but without the most important serious fact. What traffic were you getting before the picture appeared for that one page, and what traffic were you getting after the picture was added. Can you confirm that you didn't change the meta description or title at all?

Everything else is a distraction to the most basic scientific method and that is what makes the article bad, you've conflated a bunch of different 'symptoms' with one hypothesis.

Authorship ties Google+ to search. Can I have my photo next to my search result if I don't have a Google account?

"If you want your authorship information to appear in search results for the content you create, you'll need a Google+ Profile with a good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo."


Authorship markup launched before Google+ was even available to the outside world: http://www.seoinc.com/seo-blog/google-launches-authorship-ma...

Which is true but it's irrelevant to the current situation. Which is that lots of us (see below) have come to associate the mugshots with G+ posts, which are usually mediocre, so we don't even look at them.

What people perceive governs how they behave, and your explanation won't change that.

Well the FTS100 and Global 500 Publisher I used to work for where very interested in using authorship and publisher markup up to stop crappy sites ripping our content off.

Farmers weekly where the most keen and you can see the result in the serps - though Matt why are you picking a pic from the Telegraph to go with thier articles?

Authorship markup for sure, but the question was "Can I have my photo next to my search result if I don't have a Google account?". To put it another way: Are there author pages that google uses as source for an image in the SERP that are not G+ profile pages?

Doubt it, G+ is the passport for Google's services going forward I'm afraid...

Hi Matt, the original post author here.

Our site WAS affected by Penguin indeed, even by the first version of Penguin a year ago. Because we sell web-forum software and ticket-software - that both have a "powered by" link at the bottom, our SEO agency advised to add that...

And we're still trying to recover... I'm contacting our clients one-by-one and we're changing those links to "nofollow".

We have never paid for links, the only paid ADs our agency buys are CPC-campaings on download sites like "download.com" etc... Can this be a reason? Should I tell them to stop doing that?

UPDATE: anyways THANK YOU MATT for commenting this and letting us know we're penalized by Penguin... Not many people are lucky to have Matt Cutts look at their issues!! PS. I guess we should fire these guys, remove/disavow all links and start over...

These guys seem to have no problem with manipulating the search results will hundreds of thousands of paid links:


So it's really no surprise that Google's latest Penguin rollout has hurt them.

Sad to see it blamed on authorship.

Hi, the original post author here.

Hundreds of thousands of paid links? Excuse me? We do NOT pay for links. The only thing I can imagine has initiated Penguin - we sell web-software (forum software, helpdesk software etc) that has a footer link "powered by XXX". We dis see this affected our rankings a year ago and we're still trying to recover (making those links "nofollow" trying to contact the linking webmasters etc).

Sorry but I don't buy it.

You're telling me these links don't look paid to you (and this is an example of just the first page):

http://www.webhostingsearch.com/web-tools.php - Spammy footer link

http://jack-fx.com/ - Spammy blog roll links

http://www.helpdesk2000.org/ - More spammy blog links

http://www.chat-software.org/ - Spammy footer links

http://www.cloudcomputing-providers.com/ - Spam network links in blog posts

Guessing you guys will need to whip out the disavow tool to get out of this one. These are exactly the types of links that Penguin is going after - anchor text rich & not editorial.

Followup: Yeah... I even found links to my site from porn sites... Guess we have to spend weeks with the disavow tool.. In hopes that google will take te penalty down. What tool have you used to discover the backlinks? I will need it...

PS. why can't I just BE A CODER! :(

Use Google Webmaster Tools and Download the latest links file.

You can also take a look at Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. All of those require a subscription though. You will most likely be fine just using link data provided from Google itself.

Did the SEO agency you hired get you those backlinks ?

Which ones? The ones above? I'm not sure. Will have to contact them and get back.

I think, the links we're being penalised for - are mostly the links that come from our software widget. Check out this page, the very-very top of it: http://algonac.thebestcityguides.com/Forum/forum4195-Minneol...

We have HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS links like this (I'mm looking at my WMT right now). I guess this is the main reason. Our site is hit by Penguin...

I don't see the spammy footer link on the 1st one. The page title is "useful web tools" and we have a link in the body part... I don't understand.

Also, what makes you think a blog roll is always "spammy"? The second one seem to be a blog about ASP.NET, the author recommending our software... There are plenty of review people post about our software: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVuB3oGr5pw here's a video review of our Jitbit Crm for example...

.. but anyways, I guess you ARE right, we do have to disavow all these links and contact webmasters so they remove it. Not sure if this the seo-guys we hired who screwed us up, or the result of negative seo (unlikely, but who knows)

PS. feels kinda uncomfortable when everyone's investigating my site, my backlinks, you know my name, my blog, even my home address from whois records, but I know nothing about you. Just some "uts_" guy on HN. Justsayin... It's like you're naked on a scene, everyone sees you, but you see nothing because of the lights :((

His position on the SERPs didn't change, he's still #1 for the keywords that were driving the traffic.

Ooh this is embarrassing; the article was about click-through rates and not rankings. But maybe now is a good time to tell people how terrible the CTR data in WMT is.

Also, are you sure the site was hit by Penguin? This doesn't look like the typical Penguinized site. You would know, but have you checked?

Yes, I did check that the site was affected by Penguin before I posted my comment.

Are you guys able to check that on a site by site basis internally? Like, did you just look up his site and there was a flag or something similar that only you can see that lets you know Penguin got him?

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