SEO Experiment: Regaining Authorship Photos With Fake Google Plus Followers

Winston OngSEO Blog0 Comments

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Winston Ong

I'm a Sydney based SEO consultant and search marketer. I blog about unique SEO topics the main sites don't talk about, and like fiddling around with real world SEO experiments that shed light on the limits of Googlebot.
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In December last year, Google removed between 20-40% of authorship profiles from search engine results pages, to show only higher quality authors.

Therefore, very popular and authoritative authors such as Danny Sullivan who have a very high follower count on Google Plus have maintained their author profile:

Danny Sullivan authorship photo

 

While much less popular authors such as myself have lost theirs. Here is the search result for my brand name prior to the update:

seo tailor authorship

And then following the update:

rel author removed

🙁

Note: I removed the rel=author attribute tag from the homepage following the update in an effort to comply with the spirit of the rich media feature i.e. to display authorship for actual ‘authored’ articles, news and blog posts – most people were incorrectly using the tag to attach author rich snippets to business pages, home pages and other non-authored content.

 

Reasons for Losing My Author Photo

  • Low follower count as an indicator of authority and popularity
  • Few account updates and irregular posting frequency
  • Lack of engagement from followers to infrequent updates.

 

SEO Experiment Hypothesis

By artificially increasing my Google Plus follower account, I will regain my authorship photo.

In order to increase my follower account, I purchased 100 fake Google Plus followers in a Fiverr gig

Fiverr gig google plus

 

 

The Google Plus followers were added to my profile yesterday

fake g+ followers

 

 

SEO Experiment Prediction: Failure

I do not expect this hack to work, as Google will be able to detect the following anomalies and filter the activity as part of the update:

  1. All 100 followers added me at the same time, instead of a more natural appearing progression of popularity
  2. Most of the profiles (as expected for a fake profile purchase) have little engagement and few followers themselves:

fake google plus followers

fake google plus post

– Though, one could argue this is actually reflective of typical Google + users 😉

SEO Experiment Results

I will systematically monitor my search results to see if authorship is regained for my ranked article content. I will post the latest results in one month’s time on 5 May 2014.

Update 5 May 2014: The result of the experiment is negative:

google authorship

 

 

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