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Don’t Get Cute With Rel=Author Tags

March 29th, 2012
16 Comments


I finally got around to implementing rel=”author” tags on my blog.  It’s pretty easy to do by linking your Google + profile to your site – Instructions here - and the benefit, at least for me, was pretty immediate.  

Just by attaching my mug to my URLs in Google’s SERPs, my organic traffic increased 15% immediately.  While I didn’t do any serious rank tracking, my best guess is that my rankings didn’t change much, but rather the CTR on my ranking URLs went up – because who wouldn’t want to click on this?

Of course I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I had to test it out right? So what makes the Web go round? Cute cat pics right?

Within a minute or two my SERPs looked like this:

Pretty cool right? Not really. Check out what happened to my organic traffic:

The moral of the story: Cats are for social media consultants.


Tags: Google Plus

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Terry

    Personally, I’m a dog guy. Cats are cute but dogs don’t scratch around their toilet then slink across my furniture.

    Thanks for the post. I was wondering how you got your mug in the serps. I’m next.

  • 2 Stever

    Andrew, that traffic graph looks like plain old weekend traffic dips every 6 to 7 days.

    Correlation does not always mean Causation

    *meow

  • 3 Andrew Shotland

    Terry – you’re right, never seen a dog take a few laps from a toilet and then lick someone’s face…

    Steve – a perfectly good point except that the drop happened on a Wednesday/Thursday. *Meow Meow

  • 4 Chris Gregory

    Too funny. You should try it with a beautiful woman next. =)

    I saw a spike in traffic with the rel=author and hReview as well.

  • 5 Ewan Kennedy

    Having released a mouse from the jaws of one of my cats literally 10 minutes ago, I’m not sure they’re always so cute.

    I noticed increased traffic and no change in rankings when I did this (not the cat thing, the author thing) a few weeks back. .

  • 6 Kevin

    I just had to stop by and say, that, Andrew, was funny. Thanks for the entertaining read and test.

  • 7 Andrew Shotland

    +1 Kevin!

  • 8 Yaro

    Any reason why your local result with author looks different from this – http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/02/29/rich-snippet-reviews-and-author-now-showing-in-local-results/

  • 9 Dino

    I was wondering what was up with the kitten while reading Mike’s Blog.

    Not being too techy, and in relation to my clients, I’m not sure why I can get some mugs to show in search while others I can’t.

  • 10 Andrew Shotland

    Cause Google likes to mix it up

  • 11 Wolfgang Bloomfield

    I have just added and linked mine to my Google+ profile, lets see what happens, I nearly used my Dogs face, but then decided that I was better looking.

  • 12 neale

    Thanks for testing the cute pic out, good to know thanks!

  • 13 Dana Lookadoo

    So I’m wondering what would happen if you used a graphic? What about Google’s facial recognition technology. Did they recognize the cat’s face and place it and wouldn’t if it wasn’t a face? Any thoughts?

    Best part is that cats are for social media consultants!

  • 14 Andrew Shotland

    Dana, I didn’t lose all my rankings, but there definitely was a traffic dip. And while it’s hard to say there was definitely a direct correlation, it seems likely.

    I wonder if the cat face was flagged as “questionable” so it got suppressed a bit. It also may be that it was treated like a graphic and as Google crawled URLs on my site, it pushed them down, so I wouldn’t have seen an immediate dip.

    It’s also possible I have no clue :)

  • 15 Joe Goldstein

    That’s way too funny. I showed this to a coworker, and it prompted a pretty weird debate.

    What do you think it would do to traffic if companies with prominent mascots started blogging as their mascots? In other words, people don’t seem to respond well to the cute cat picture, but what would happen if posts “by” Mickey Mouse started showing up on the Disney blog, and in SERPs with a rel=author pic? This is assuming that the Google+ TOS accommodated it, of course.

    On one hand, it seems like a great opportunity for user engagement and identity building. On the other, it undermines the whole idea of author authority, and could be catastrophic if mismanaged.

    Have any thoughts?

  • 16 Andrew Shotland

    Great point Joe. In fact, Disney’s G+ account does use Mickey as its avatar, https://plus.google.com/+Disney/about, but it looks like they haven’t connected to their profile with rel=author. I am going to guess the verified G+ accounts can put whatever they want as their avatar and G won’t mind.

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