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How Google Authorship decreased our traffic by 90%

by Alex Yumashev · May 30 2013

A lot of our readers are small businesses and self-funded startups just like us. So I hope it's OK if we share our findings and challenges.

Almost every single SEO-blog on this planet (including SeoMoz, Copyblogger etc. etc.) has written a post about why "Google Authorship" is so great and why you should "claim" it right now. In short - because after you associate your G+ profile with your website there will be a small picture showing up next to your website in Google search results (aka "the SERP" - "Search engine results page").

Woohoo. Thousands of webmasters have reactivated their dead G+ profiles and associated their pages with their G+ accounts hoping to improve their CTR (click-through rates). Including me. But it turns out, it's not that simple.

"Big traffic change" email from Google.

I got this email from Google this morning: Big traffic change for top URL

Search results clicks for have decreased significantly.

The number of clicks that your site receives from Google can change from day to day for a variety of factors, including automatic algorithm updates. However, if you have recently made significant changes to the content or configuration of your site, this change may be an indication that there are problems.

I almost had a heart attack. For a company that gets most of its inbound traffic from Google this is a disaster. Thank God it was not our flagship product - the helpdesk ticketing system. So I went to check our positions - they were fine, nothing has changed. WHAT has changed then? This:

Most people were clicking the #2 result.

Not sure why. Maybe it's my stupid ugly face. Maybe it's because people are used to filter out the ADs, in other words filter out the first couple of results that look unusual. I just did that myself - after looking at the page I even thought for a moment - "whoa, where's my page, it's not even in the SERP, where is it?"

But it's a fact. Our positions haven't changed but the number of clicks is down by 50%-90%

By the way, kudos to Google who emailed me this message. Make sure you set up a webmaster-tools account so you get alerted when something like this happens - a major change to your website traffic, CTR-rate etc..

It's not that simple

I have just removed my author info and re-published my website. You know, just in case.

But here's the report from Webmaster tools that shows, how the CTR actually changes depending on the page:

Turns out, it's not that simple. Some pages moved down, but some have improved drastically. After spending an hour analyzing these reports I found this...

Key takeaways

Regards, Alex