8 Reasons Why You Need to Establish Yourself as an Authority on Google+


Being an Authority on Google+ Directly Impacts Search Results (Case Study)

Note: This post is a summary of the results of an extensive case study on Google+. You may also be interested in reading the entire Google+ Case Study.

While we all may have our hunches that Google+ and Google Authorship influence our search results, I wanted to create a case study to better the SEO community by isolating the value of Google+ on search results.

This study, conducted over the course of 3 weeks between February and March of 2013 looked at the SEO impact of Google+ on 4 brand new sites that had never been promoted by anything but Google+. The results provided extremely revealing insights into the value of Google+ in search results.

A single +1 from an authoritative Google+ account can propel a brand new site to a top 10 ranking with no other promotional activity involved, as long as the site being promoted is in the same niche as the Google+ account

You read that right. A single +1 took a brand new website into a top 10 search ranking for a targeted keyword overnight… and it has stayed there ever since! Here’s the story of how important Google+ has become to helping your website rank, and why you should start investing your time in this social network immediately.

Isolating Google+ From All Other Factors

Last year, I noticed the impact of Google+ shares and Authorship on the rankings and click throughs on my new Digital Marketing Blog, so I submitted a YouMoz post about Google Authorship’s impact on rankings. Great discussion was held about the topic and while the results were promising, it was concluded that the observations were hard to prove because there were too many other variables contributing to the success that was being seen.

SEOMoz Community Feedback

Learning from that experience and incorporating feedback from the SEOMoz Community, I immediately went to work creating a scientific study to isolate Google+ as a factor in SEO rankings. The following considerations were made to make sure all sites were created equal:

Fixed Parameters

  • 4 websites were created from scratch with brand new domain names
  • Site niches were chosen based on similar monthly exact match search volume and relative competition
  • All domains were registered within 15 minutes of each other and used different hosting companies
  • Websites were built in WordPress using the default 2012 Theme and used the same plugins
  • Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics were Installed on each site and an XML site map was submitted
  • Each site had 3 pages of content of similar length, use of images/videos and substance
  • Proxy servers were used to create accounts where needed to prevent skewing of results

Variable Parameter

The only variation between sites was how they were connected to Google+. Here is how this was done:

  • No Google+: One site was not at all connected to Google+ nor did it receive any +1’s
  • New Google+: One site was connected to a brand new Google+ account and verified itself as an author to the site. I gave the site homepage a +1 from this Google+ account.
  • Less Than Relevant Google+: One site was connected to my established Google+ account and verified as an author to the site. The site was in a niche that I have never before discussed on Google+. I gave the site homepage a +1 from this Google+ account.
  • Relevant Google+: One site was connected to my established Google+ account and verified as an author to the site. The site was in a niche that I talk about often on Google+. I gave the site homepage a +1 from this Google+ account.

Overnight Celebrity

It didn’t take long to see the impact of Google+ on each of these sites. The 3 sites with Google+ were all crawled by Google Webmaster Tools within 24 hours of being created. The site that did not use Google+ was not crawled until a day after that.

That’s not all. I checked the rankings for each site the day after launching and noticed that they all ranked differently according to which account was used to promote them.

Rankings on 2-18-2013

A day after launching the site content, all of the sites were ranking in Google, even the one that did not get a +1 from a Google+ account! The site that ranked best was the site most relevant to my Google+ account. It was relevant because I am an aspiring Travel Blogger and I wrote an article about my passport scare on my honeymoon last year.  I often post links to travel articles on my Google+ account, so Google is able to understand that this +1 was topically relevant to my profile. This site ranked #8 for the targeted keyword a day after the site was published.

The next best ranking site was a site that I also gave a +1 from my established Google+ account, but not topically relevant to my profile. This site was showing up on the third page of search results a day after receiving a +1.

The two sites that were either not associated with Google+ or a brand new account did not rank nearly as well as those that were promoted from an authority Google+ account.

Key Takeaways from this Google+ Case Study

So what ease learned in this case study? A lot! Here are 8 reasons why you need to establish yourself as an authority on Google+

1) Google+ has an immediate impact on SEO results

When it comes to Google Search, You are becoming more important than your domain name. When I say You, I mean the way that Google views You. If you have established yourself as a valued contributor to Google+, the content that you share on Google+ has a better chance of ranking highly in Google Search results, immediately.

While other factors of SEO still remain important to achieving a #1 ranking for competitive keywords, Google+ can’t be ignored as a part of a well balanced plan of attack. Prepare for battle by  adding people to your circles on Google+, sharing relevant articles, and interacting with the community.

Tip: I really enjoy the Google+ iPad app for viewing content. It’s works very smoothly and is very easy to use.

2) Google Authorship creates a win-win situation for both parties involved

By writing often and verifying with Google that you wrote a particular piece of content, you are also sending a signal that the content you write can be trusted to provide value to their customers.

You make Google better and they better help you build and serve your audience. That’s a win-win!

3) Authorship Has Contributor Limits

Google+ Authorship Limitations

While conducting this case study, I verified myself as a contributor to 12 sites in Google+. On the last two sites I added, those that are specific to this case study, I was not able to see my author profile on the articles when initially published.

Authorship Denied

After clearing out some sites I don’t contribute to as often, I saw authorship on my site the next day.

National Passport Authorship

At least in my case there appeared to be a limit of 10 sites that I could contribute to as an author before Google Authorship went away. I think an excellent follow up would be for a more authoritative and diverse blogger to conduct a test to see if that works for them as well. Maybe a task for Rand Fishkin?

4) Google Authorship Alone Does Not Appear to be a Ranking Factor

I was under the impression that Google Authorship alone would make my site rank, but I was unable to prove so in this experiment.

5) Yahoo Scrapes Public Google+ Data

Yahoo Rankings

Yahoo is apparently scraping Google+ data, because that is the only way they could have known about my site! While this may seem surprising or unscrupulous, I believe that it is actually fair game for them to utilize publicly available Google+ information.

6) SEO Analysis Tools Will Need to Adjust

It will become more difficult to trust an SEO analysis tool that does not incorporate Google +1’s into their data front and center. I hope that the smart tool makers are already tapping into the Social Data Hub to pull more of this information into their analysis tools.

7) Use Google Author Stats

National Passport Author Stats

For those of you who have been granted Google Authorship, make sure that you quantify the value and impact of your writing in search results using Google Author Stats.

You can access this report from right within Google Webmaster Tools, and the report covers all sites that you have verified as an author.  Ever think you aren’t reaching anyone with your articles? Author stats provides a fantastic reality check.

8) New Sites Can Rank Quickly with Google+ and Retain Rankings

Rankings Reports Over Time

A new site can see meaningful rankings within a day of the domain name being registered. Not only that, but the rankings may hold steady or even improve, even without any further promotion. Over the course of 3 weeks, all four sites of the study maintained steady or increased rankings.

Read the Full Detailed Study

For those of you looking to learn more, I encourage you read the entire Google+ Search Rankings Case study.

What has been your experience with Google+? Have you seen similar results from your account? Please let me know in the comments!

About the Author

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of a suitcase somewhere in the world. Formerly of Minneapolis, MN and San Francisco, CA.

  • Thanks for this Jeff! Fascinating stuff to be sure. I’ve seen enough from anecdotal experience as an active content creator on many sites who has been active on Google+ since its third day to already be convinced that there can be a profound SEO effect via Google+. But I do have some questions and observations about your study:

    1) While I would love to believe that topical relevance plays a part, I’m not sure there is enough here to prove that it exists or is significant. Since each of the sites was about a different topic, relative competitiveness of the KW you were tracking will be at play here as well. So comparing how each ranked after one day may not be conclusive that topical relevance was the “winning” factor.

    2) I’m also not convinced that you proved a limit to the number of links that can be in Contributor To. Display of the Authorship rich snippet is algorithmically controlled and never guaranteed for any particular query at any given time. Seeing it one day and not the next is not uncommon, so I wouldn’t go by that. Although it is interesting that just yesterday Google+ started adding a user-changeable label of Current vs. Past to each Contributor To link. I’d like to see more testing to confirm that there really is a Contributor To limit though.

    3) You did not account for the fact that while it is well known that a G+ share or +1 can get a new site or page indexed faster, new sites or pages can rank for a term, at least temporarily, without any links or social signals. See http://searchengineland.com/google-explains-why-your-new-pages-number-one-ranking-may-drop-154852. However, you say that your sites retained their rankings, so I can’t be sure that QDF is at play here.

    Anyway, I’m on your side ;-),but I think there may need to be more confirmation here of some of your specific claims. Thanks for doing the study!

    • Hi Mark,

      I really appreciate you taking the time to read through this and offer comments. On to specifics:

      1) I agree that this will be something that’s difficult to prove, and I’m not sure of how to offer scientific proof vs. anecdotal. I do believe that there is an impact, but if you have any idea on how to quantify the exact amount, I would love to hear it.

      2) I am convinced there is a limit. I agree that I may not have offered complete proof in the study, but that was not really the original intent, but rather a side outcome. I think the only real way to prove it would be to have multiple accounts test the thresholds for when things show up vs. don’t. I am not sure that one person could do it convincingly.

      3) That Matt Cutts video definitely made me question whether my observations were temporary, but the rankings were maintained for a month before I wrote the study and most of the pages have been steadily ranking better. I think that there are many ways Google finds sites to index (Chrome, GWT, registrar data, etc.), but I believe that there needs to be some substance to rank for more than just the QDF period.

      Awesome comments!

      • Jeff – I wanted to piggyback from what Mark said above.

        First, Great job with the case study. It’s such a common idea that people are throwing around these days – and it’s great to see a case study behind it.

        My initial responses (maybe room for additional tweaking in the topic):

        +You created more than one variable in this test. This is where it gets tricky. In a perfect world, you would be able to create 3 identical sites, on the exact same server, with exactly the same content – and have the only variable be G+ or not. Because you can’t create identical content might I recommend: Creating content around a keyword that has identical competition according to a few metrics?

        Either way – the content you produced is leaps & bounds ahead of the content that simply says “G+ is important” You were able to back it up!

    • Mark, nice critique, and I would expect this from you! If all sites were travel related and had travel in the domain there would be a stronger argument.

  • Brian Calsyn

    Excellent job Jeff of quantifying at a simple, base level the value of G+ in ranking. We all suspect but that is anecdotal, nice to have it in an objective form. Although it doesn’t change what I’m doing, your study helps affirm it.

  • We’ve been keeping a close eye on authorship since we also suspect a close link between content shared/+1’ed/etc. on G+ (more so than other social networks) and Google ranking. Experiments like this help give a glimpse into how these signals may compare against the other algorithmic factors.

    FYI, the item at the top of your Authorship list, Buzz, is Google’s now-shuttered early foray into social networking. (See http://mashable.com/2011/10/14/rip-google-buzz/)

    • I know what Buzz is… was an early adopter… just thought it was funny!

  • Great post! I love that you broke it out into the 8 key takeaways! =)

  • Takeshi Young

    Hey Jeff, nice to see a follow-up article.

    I’m curious to see what keyword you were using for your keyword ranking? Obviously, the ranking of the site will depend on the keyword you are using, and if it relates to the domain name at all (unless you were using a nonsense word).

    Also, there is no limit to the number of “contributor to” pages as far as I know. I have 16 listed on my personal profile, and authorship markup shows up for most of them.

    • Hi Takeshi – if you read the full PDF, each keyword used has similar monthly search volume according to the Google Keyword Tool. Each domain is an exact match domain. Since all were similar volume, similar competition and all exact match domains, they are a control in this experiment (non factors).

      The limit to authorship markup is something that needs further experimentation for sure, but I do think that there is a limit at some point. I am just not sure what it is… it was really just a side observation but not the main premise of the study.

      Full PDF is here: https://www.jeffalytics.com/google-plus-search-authorship/

      • thogenhaven

        Hi Jeff, Interesting post!

        I don’t think think you really control for the variables you list here, although they are similar on some metrics. The SERPs for the different keyworsd you target might differ/fluctuate without you know it.

        I think a more valid approach would be to buy keyword1.com, keyword2.com, keyword3.com, keyword4.com and then try to rank for keyword.

        • That was a consideration, but ultimately decided to go away from that methodology in order to test the relevance theory.

          You should definitely try a study that does as you suggest, though. I would love to see the results!

  • Outstanding case study! Never easy to “prove” anything with testing in SERPs due to all the random factors but reading the full PDF you’ve isolated them as much as possible, kudos..

  • Wow! This is incredible! Great work Jeff! I’ve been telling people the importance of this since Google+ debuted!

    Ironicly though– it seems despite having a verified Google+ account and a vanity URL given by Google, I’m still having trouble with my authorship. Hopefully it will get worked out soon.

    One last thing that I CANNOT believe– how do you NOT have a +1 button on this page?! Seriously Jeff– we need to have a talk about this.

    • I am trying to get the +1 button in place… AddThis is broken and I haven’t been able to find a resolution. I don’t need a Pinterest button, I need a +1!!!! Considering switching to a different service, but loathing the process.

      Is your Google+ page personal or a business page? That may have an impact on authorship. Otherwise, I would say the biggest thing is to keep on plugging away, writing, etc. That will have the most long term sustainable impact for you.

      • If you’re on WordPress, I recommend the Digg Digg plugin. Works great on my site. Even has hard-coding options that make it super easy to place the buttons anywhere you want!

        I found the issue– it was because of my Google vanity URL (oddly enough). Apparently if you’ve been given a vanity URL by Google+, it doesn’t get recognized for authorship yet. Weird. I reverted to the old numeric URL and it is now working perfectly.

        • I fixed the share buttons. Apparently I could override what they had as a default by writing a little code, so I’m really happy now!

          Very interesting on your profile. It makes sense that the vanity URL would not be supported, but also concerning that you had to lose authorship to find that out.

        • We need to be clear here: Dustin did NOT “lose Authorship.” It’s just that the Structured Data Testing Tool was updated a month or so ago and the new version doesn’t recognize vanity URLs for showing verification. But I have a vanity URL and I was still getting the author snippet for sites where I used it and those sites continued to show in my Author Stats at Google Webmaster Tools. So a vanity URL does NOT “break” authorship, it just doesn’t work in the verificaiton tool.

  • mustapha laouedj

    thank you jeff for these tips!

  • Nima Vali

    Thanks a lot Jeff, this post is epic gold, and I believe that you’re right in all your conclusions, as I am currently studying and measuring the same G+ activities for more than 2 month now.

    If you’re still interested in testing G+ authority, I have some information I would gladly share with you.

  • It’s really interesting to note that having a +1 from a related account can do so much for you. I have set up the authorship thing recently, and have been using Google plus, but so far I haven’t really noticed any significant impact.

    • The impact is not always immediate. The key is to use your G+ account regularly, link to relevant articles, treat it like the social network it is… then when you publish your own items, you will hopefully start to see more benefit.

      In the case study, you’ll notice that the brand new G+ account did not see much immediate impact from posting. I believe that this is because Google favors accounts that are established on G+ and those that participate in the community. I am not sure of how long this takes to accomplish, but that’s one of my conclusions.

  • gary oakes

    Thanks, Jeff Sauer for this study. I have been researching the ins and outs of establishing a successful website for real estate in the Nashville market, and found this quite illuminating. As a newbie , it is all so confusing and intimidating, but you have helped me down the path a bit. Much appreciated!

  • A small point on #5 – “Yahoo Scrapes Public Google+ Data.” While I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true, they could easily be crawling newly registered domains as well.

    • Yes, they could absolutely be looking at new domain registrations/whois records to find this information. The reason why I suspect it’s Google+ data is that 1) only one of the new domains actually saw any activity on Yahoo (the one I thought was most relevant) and 2) It took a day in between registering the domain and putting up a site, so I’m not sure what they could have crawled right after the DNS record was established.

      Neither of these items are conclusive, but that’s my thought process. Would be another good test to isolate.

  • Pascal Fintoni

    Thank you so much for spending so much time on this, will def share and credit

  • Joel Fugleberg

    Great article, Jeff. I like the effort you went into to show the benefit of authority on G+ vs. just speculating like many do. A couple questions came to mind as I was reading though and I’m wondering if your case study revealed the answers. As a “relevant author” does it make a difference if you post content to a G+ page or your G+ profile? And if so, can they be linked? I guess my question centers around whether having pages in addition to your profile boosts your authority in any way.

    Thanks again for the information!

    • Joel – it is my understanding that you can only achieve authorship for your G+ profile and not for a G+ page, because it is tied to the individual. As for the value of boosting authority by posting to a G+ page or a G+ profile, all I can do is speculate, but my thought is that posting to both a page and a profile has benefit that is incremental to just posting to a page or a profile. My guess is that it is like how link building and pagerank flow have always worked where the influence of a G+ profile impacts the value given to the page being promoted.

  • Isaac Dozier

    Thanks for the great article. This make SEO a little bit more clear to me. Time to start writing some more articles!

  • Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

    Funny, I was sent this link as part of the argument on setting up Google Authorship. But this is about Googe+ instead.

    While you showed pretty well that Google+ sharing works as an SEO tool, I really think there should be more debate on whether using social media to influence search results is a good idea. I think the concept is actually offensive. Instead of providing more relevant results, it is providing more biased ones. By ranking higher posts that my friends have shared, I’m only getting viewpoints endorsed by them and missing out on opposing viewpoints.

    • Edward – A Google+ share is not much different from a link when it comes down to it. An influencer sharing a link on G+ is like a Pagerank 10 website linking to your site on the web. It’s sending a signal to Google that this content is something that other humans have viewed as worthy of sharing. In that sense, a share is the new link, only more difficult to manipulate. It’s a lot easier to manipulate a link on a website than to fake an influencer to share content on G+.

      As for friends articles showing up in search results, I think you are confusing “search plus your world” with Google+ shares impacting search. Search plus your world is what you see when your friends results are mixed in with yours. Obviously Google thinks that they are providing more relevant results when your friends are sharing content vs. a stranger. I don’t ever see search plus your world representing more than 3-5 of the 10 search results, so it’s not killing relevancy as much as you might think.

      • Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

        So, you are saying that a share from Google+ influencer impacts rankings whether you are connected to said influencer or not. In that case my objection would be withdrawn and the only issue would be how relevant Google+ is in the first place. Obviously a different topic.

        • Yes, the site in the study is still ranking #5 with just a +1 as a promotion (well, and I guess a link from the case study now). That’s internationally from what I understand and without results being personalized.

          For me, it’s not a question about Google+ being relevant, but rather Google being able to easily determine authority from posts endemic to their system. It’s a stronger signal of quality to observe behavior from known quantities on G+ than it is just about anywhere else on the web. Strong signal = less noise = better search results.

  • Hi Jeff, this is an interesting study. I have no doubt that your analysis is correct. I’ve seen similar results with my clients. For this reason, I’ve been instructing my clients to put more focus on Google Plus. Thx for sharing.

  • Jeff,

    On the Yahoo! Scrapes Google+ front, the first issue I see is that Yahoo! wouldnt be scraping anything since they are powed by Bing. So if anyone was scraping something it makes sense that it’d be Bing but if you know of Yahoo! scraping/crawling themselves – I’d love to hear about it.

    Another possibility is that you left WordPress ping notifications configured on your blogs, it is enabled by default. If that’s the case, then it’s possible that Bing consume the ping notifications from sites like Pingomartic & that is where they discovered your new domains and it had nothing to do with Google+.



    • Great point. Pinging was on by default, so they could be using that info (or registrar data). I was definitely surprised about the Yahoo ranking and no Bing ranking equivalent, because I was under the impression that Bing serves their results. That doesn’t appear to be the case in some instances.

      This Yahoo observation wasn’t the main conclusion of the study, but rather a really interesting observation that popped up during the research. A little better explanation can be found in the full paper here: https://www.jeffalytics.com/google-plus-search-authorship/

  • Okay I see what my problem is.. too many niche blogs. I’m only keeping the top 10.

    Crap didn’t even know bout stats in tools

    • Glad I could help. Can you let me know if removing the number of sites you list as contributor caused your profile to show up? Would be really curious to see that.

      Author stats is pretty awesome and under-used!

  • Nicely done case study Jeff. One of the more thorough and supported metric rich studies on Authorship I’ve come across of late. I’ve been testing how long it takes for my G+ stream posts show up in the organic serp’s for the longtail query “is social shares the new seo” and where these posts rank in comparison to the other web 2.0 properties I’ve got connected content with similar contextual content – the jury is still out on this one.

  • Bamoros

    Thanks for sharing your experience on Google+!

  • DayTradingUni

    Isn’t it important to know what kind of competition these search terms had? I know all sites chose relatively the same in terms of competition, however couldn’t it just be that getting one backlink or so (from the +1) was enough to give it a decent ranking in Google? Rankings have come the day after I bookmark some of my articles for low competition keywords, and this could have happened to you…

    • The purpose of this study was to find out how quickly you could rank using Google+ to promote your content and if authorship had an impact. Because of that I chose lower competition phrases with a similar amount of exact match traffic. If you have the time to conduct a study with more +1’s on a more competitive niche, I definitely think you should go for it!

  • Awesome post Jeff! I too have found a good deal of ranking benefits via G+ implementation. Thanks a lot.

  • Hi Jeff! Great case study. Thanks for sharing it. I have two quick questions for you. First, is there any SEO difference between +1’ing something and just sharing it via Google Plus? I understand conceptually the difference between sharing a post and giving it a plus 1 endorsement– but with respect to everything we’re discussing here, does it make any difference? Is one better than the other?

    Second, is Google Authorship exclusive to blog platforms? Or if you post an article on a traditional website platform (non-blog), can you set up G+ Authorship there as well?

    Thanks again for the great article!


    • Hi Preston – for #1, I believe them to be the same, but someone else may want to weigh in. For example, on the button on this page it currently displays over 1,000 +1’s for the post. Not everyone +1’d it from my button. In fact, most of the people +1’d this from Google+ directly, because when I first published, I didn’t even have the +1 button enabled (fixed now). Most of the +1’s were from people either giving my post a +1 (actually very few) or people giving a +1 to post from other people (the majority). Since Google is blending the numbers here, I believe them to be the same.

      2) Authorship is an HTML tag that you place on a piece of content to indicate the Google+ profile of the person who wrote it. It can be implemented on any site, but likely only a verified author would receive the credit in a search engine results page.

  • Loved this post! Jeff, you have made some pretty valid conclusions and your observations are just as valuable too to us SEO practitioners! I’ve just blogged about your post…and will send along notice about same to my whole client list too!

  • Very informative post Thank you.. In Fixed Parameters section, there is only one parameter is not fixed , Its the content it self for each post.I think if you choose keywords with the same difficulty that would be an awesome experiment.

  • Jeff,

    Well done. I found this incredibly interesting. I’ve been writing on authorship and Google+ lately but nowhere near this level. Well done.

    My big question relates to Google+. If you want to have influence in a specific niche or industry is it best to keep your Google+ profile focused on that topic. For example if I want to be influential for internet marketing is it best for me to focus on internet marketing when it comes to who is in my circles and what communities I am involved in? Or does authorship weigh into it? Right now Google may thing I am influential when it comes to marketing, Seattle Seahawks, and Pearl Jam and I would rather have them consider me an influencer in internet marketing. Your thoughts would be appreciated.


    • Hey Steve – I would write about what interests you as opposed to trying to have Google become interested in you. I actually struggle with this as well, because I have a lot of unrelated interests (being myself, digital marketing and travel blogging). I have decided to keep one profile on G+ because it’s the easiest to maintain, but I have created separate profiles on other networks for this reason. I guess it comes down to how much time and patience you have whether you separate church and state. I would say write about what you like first and foremost.

      • Thanks for the reply. It’s a tough call. Internet marketing does interest me, but so do many other things. The more I think about it, trying to focus on one topic on one profile, while obviously having other interests on other profiles feels like gaming the system. Google never takes that very lightly. Thanks again. Great post.

    • Gary Fenn

      First off, great post Jeff – I’ve been contemplating the same experiment myself this week so thanks for saving me some time! Whatever people may take away from this, it seems the conclusion is “G+ Authorship is an all round good thing for SEO”.

      I’ve piggybacked this one Stephen as I’ve wrestled with the same issue myself. I’m not an authority on one topic but discuss and blog on a variety. Would Google dilute my performance? Eventually I’ve settled on the idea that like Twitter, I have different “streams” of followers there for different reasons, and they don’t mass unfollow if I post about one topic I’m interested in, as opposed to another. Knowing Google, they probably see this as good behaviour of a real person anyway to distinguish from anyone trying to game this system in one content area.

      • Hi Gary – Thanks for reading! I think that what you are describing is the prime reason why Google+ has circles. Create circles for each interest and share with them. That means you aren’t diluting the value to everyone and also that you are in compliance. Simple solution. I personally group people in circles, but have found that there’s just so many incoming things on G+ that I am afraid my post gets lost in the noise when I share just to a circle. That’s why I usually just share everything publicly.

  • Interesting.
    Effectively what Google are saying is that if you stick exclusively to Twitter, they will make you suffer for it.. 🙂

    • Not sure it would be actively making you suffer or you suffer from where you spend your time engaging

  • Awesome report Jeff! Really interesting findings… one of those tests that makes a guy get excited 🙂
    thanks 🙂

  • Sarah Summers

    Thanks for this Jeff – could you advise how to create links from post I make on forums (industry specific) that validate me as an author? Will simply having my user name the same as my G+ account do the trick or do I need to include a link to my G+ profile? Obviously some sites are very touchy about links in footers of posts – should I include a link to G+ profile as part of user profile and hope a bot has access to my account (wich in some case it won’t) or do I include the words “by Sarah Summers” as part of the text?

    As a thank you, I have tweeted this article to nearly 16,000 followers x

    • Hi Sarah – I would recommend that on guest posts you hyperlink your name to your g+ account URL. To be safe, you can add ?rel=author at. The end as well. The place you guest post should be fine with that, much like they might be fine with a twitter bio link. I think that the more your identity online is linked to your g+ the more you will be trusted in time by Google. Make sure you list yourself as a contributor in your g+ profile as well.

      I don’t think authorship from your twitter account really will impact authorship, but might be a fun experiment for you to try! Experiments like that (even if unsuccessful) make us all wiser as a result.

      Thanks for the tweet!

      • Sarah Summers

        I tried to add the link on Twitter, but it only allows one link, which points to my domain, I presume that’s more important? Sadly at the moment, my twitter account outranks my actual website!

  • Jeff, I am here just to say “good job”. I am baffled every day that there are people like you who do these types of tests, I wouldn’t have the patience.

    • Thank god for nerds. It was a labor of love for sure!

  • Thanks Jeff. I love Google+, and thought (hoped) that it might have an effect. You’ve set my mind at ease. 🙂

  • Hey there, what is best practice and tips when using publisher tag, i have a few sites where we are using a team of writers and under the brand of the site.

    • From an authorship perspective, it’s best for the author to attribute what they write, no matter where its written. This isn’t always possible, though. From a g+ perspective, it’s important that the site/brand create a g+ account and start actively engaging.

  • Moronke Odugbesan

    Fantastic and useful insight on google authorship.

  • Interesting case study, but as others have mentioned, there are a lot of variables at play here. In particular, I think it’s inaccurate to say, “A single +1 from an authoritative Google+ account can propel a brand new site to a top 10 ranking…” because your +1s came from the author and not a 3rd party. I think this is important. Perhaps it’s not the +1s that helped the sites rank but simply the Authorship. Or a combination of both.

    • Alex – authorship doesn’t have an impact on rankings according to Google, so the statement is accurate from my perspective

      • I have read that as well. But then why did you apply Authorship to these sites at all? Why not just +1 them without adding yourself as an author?

        • If you read the full study, which I highly recommend, you will see the whole methodology behind the experiment. I originally wanted to prove authorship was a ranking factor in the methodology, but failed to prove it. I think it would be great if you took the time to make this study even better and test your theory. Go for it

          • I see. Not a bad idea.. if I test that out, I’ll report back to share the results. Thanks.

          • Awesome. I will tweet it out and share on g+ if you send to me

  • Nice! Finally an experiment on Authorship…

    Great job!

    Have you seen companies actually use the Authorship for branding? Not a human photo, but company logo and the G+ account is the company?

    • Ben – it is my understanding only human photos get authorship. Even sunglasses and half face black and white photos won’t work

  • What do you suggest? Should we use one google account for Google Plus, Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics? Will this affect anything if One account is only kept for gPlus and one for others?

    • I don’t have enough information to make an official call, but all 3 of those things are under a single account for me. I think ach one potentially builds up my equity over time.

  • Thanks @jeffsauer:disqus awesome article

  • Golden rule made with slogan: ‘Make Google better and it better help you’ (build and serve your audience). A great suggestion!

  • Guy Alexander Bell

    Terrific article and has certainly got me thinking. What I dont get though is why I seem to be more or less the only verified google author in my niche (House painting and exterior wall coatings for houses), yet the top results for a handful of keywords, return a new 5 page “advert” site, and not my site, 10 years old, with 700 pages of completely original info. Am in lots of google circles etc etc, doing everything that they want. Whats the deal??? Google authorship is important it would seem, but surely that does not come at the expense of quality??

    • In the article I conclude that Authorship does not affect rankings. This is confirmed many times by both Google and genius level people like Mark Traphagen. So authorship shouldn’t be a factor, but I would recommend that you +1 all of your content from your account and get others to engage with it as well. Just being in circles and being the author does not appear to be a ranking factor as of now.

      • What IS important to know is that Google+ profiles carry Google PageRank, which is one of the primary ranking factors in Google Search. PageRank is an authority score that, in the case of G+ profiles (and pages) is earned both from links from high PR profiles and pages no Google+ as well as links from high authority web sites external to Google+. In the former case, it appears that the links that pass PR are things such as a reshare of your posts, or a +mention of you by an authoritative user.

        Profiles and Pages with higher PR will generally be able to get their public G+ posts ranked higher in Google search.

  • This was such a good article, I emailed the link today in my newsletter. SEO MOZ too.

    Nice work JeffAlytics!!!

  • pio dal cin

    nice article, well done even for a tech moron like myself.

  • Great insights on Google Authorship Jeff! Thank you.

  • Richard Havelock

    Hey Jeff, thank you for an interesting read. It is a great starting point for looking further into Google+, the relativity of authors and how much a high quality +1 can affect rankings. Also, thanks for taking the time to carry out the case study, this is how we learn.

  • I already tweeted your incredible case study, but I think I may like this post even better. The case study was fascinating and well done, but this post really drives home the point that we need to start taking G+ authorship more seriously…even if it means — gasp! — building fewer links. We’ve been hearing for years that social signals are the next big thing in SEO. It looks like G+ authorship might be the REAL next big thing in SEO.

    • Mark commented on this post with a brilliant observation that you should check out – you are link building by sharing to G+. Each page has a certain amount of PageRank and that does get passed when certain people share items. Authorship is not yet a ranking factor, but something that will become even more important in the future.

  • Adam Rowles

    Just on the point about Yahoo scraping Google+ data because it’s the only way they could find the content.
    Doesn’t WordPress have a built in ping service (http://codex.wordpress.org/Update_Services) when you publish a post? Could this be how Yahoo scraped this content?

    • Hey Adam. Good point – someone else brought it up in the comments as well, so check out that conversation for where we landed.

  • Frank Krepel

    Great experiment Jeff! Also there seems to be a strong correlation between the number of reviews on your plus page and your ranking. Can you confirm this, or will this be your next experiment?

    • Frank – I’m not sure I understand the question? My study is not about reviews impacting rankings.

  • Hey Jeff,

    Sean here from SEO Hacker – I don’t think that the contributor section has limits anymore. I tried just now and so far I put in 16 URLs there. It could still go up. That’s a development I think. Anyhow I’m publishing an article here about Co-AuthorRank which includes this study that you did. Great work by the way 🙂

    • Hey Sean – I am not sure if there was ever limits to being a contributor, so it was more of an open question than anything. My thought would be that if there were a contributor limit it would be relative to how much trust you have gained by Google+. So high trust profiles could contribute in more places. It would be a fun follow up study to do if I can contribute to enough sites.

      Awesome that you’ll include this study in your upcoming article. Send me a link when it’s done and I’ll give it a read!

      • Hey Jeff,

        Oh I see. My bad. I mis-read what you said about it being limited. Does your authorship still not show up on the last 2 sites you’ve added yourself contributor to? That would be an interesting thing to know.

        Anyhow here’s the link to the post: http://seo-hacker.com/coauthor-rank-centering-rankings-web/ it’ll be an honor for you to drop by 🙂
        Hint: There’s an experiment I’m planning to do with a Co-Author. There’s no candidate yet. 😉

        • Hey Sean – I read the post and it sounds interesting. I would want to know more about what the expected outcome is and what you plan to prove, but I would consider participating in an interview type setting. Send me an email at my first.lastname@gmail.com and we can discuss.

          • Hi Jeff,

            Just got to see this now. Sure! Let’s try to cook something up! I still haven’t found the right co-author thus far. Still trying to ‘woo’ influential ones.

  • Anja Schlicht

    I enjoyed reading your case study very much. I have one quick question, though. Did I understood you correctly, that you gave some homepages a plus one from your account? Does this mean, that you created a google plus site for these homepages or just implement the g+-button on the homepages? In that case who gets the credit for this social signal?

    • Anja – I did not create a G+ page for the sites. I shared them from my personal G+ account by posting a link to the homepage from G+ interface. If you read the whole study (which I highly recommend) I show screen shots of exactly how it was done.

      • Anja Schlicht

        Thanks Jeff for the quick response. I did read the full study, but must have missed the screen shots. I’m gonna read it again.

  • Great article and awesome experiment- #5 about Yahoo scraping public g+ data is certainly interesting….

  • Excellent article, Jeff! This is a fascinating study and I have referred to it a number of times to those who are looking for comprehensive evidence that Google+ does have a profound SEO effect. I am seeing some controversy about Authorship for individuals vrs Publisher for companies. What are your thoughts for small business owners?

    • I think that all small businesses should establish a personal and business Google+ account and start to get people to like/follow/circle both. That way no matter what Google does in the future, that business is covered.

  • Fantastic article – thank you. While I have been using G+ I havent invested nearly enough time and obviously need to!

  • Graham Fuller

    That was great reading. I canceled my Google+ account and within a week my Google impressions dropped to almost nil. I’ve just started it up again so It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

  • Akash Agarwal

    This is the topic, which I am searching on web. it really a helpful information. It’s help me a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  • Really a high valuable post. I begin to realize hoe Google Authorship’s impact on rangking. Thanks for Sharing.