Google Confirms Hidden Benefit Of Authorship: Bonus Links After A Back-Button Click

Google has confirmed that there’s a hidden benefit to having authorship status: If a user returns to the search results after reading an author-tagged search result for a certain period of time, Google will add three additional links to similar articles from the same author below the originally clicked link.

Say what?

A couple visuals will help explain what this is, so follow along.

If I do a Google search for “marketing land feedburner,” Google shows one of my recent MarketingLand.com articles in the top spot, and it includes my authorship status — name, avatar, Google+ information, etc.

authorship-before

If I click through on that search result and read the article, then use my browser’s Back button after a certain amount of time has elapsed, Google will add a new “More by Matt McGee” indicator along with three more links to articles that I’ve written on Marketing Land. Here’s how that looks:

authorship-after

If you use the Back button too quickly, you won’t see the extra links. Google is measuring time-on-site to decide if it thinks you enjoyed the article, and if you pass the time threshold, the extra links show up.

How much time has to pass? Google declined to tell us, but based on my testing, the magic number is two minutes.

Google did, though, confirm that this is part of the authorship feature:

If a user visits an article by an author and it seems like they’d be interested in finding more articles by this author, when they click the “Back” button to return to the results page, we’ll show more results by that author.

AJ Kohn, who writes the Marketing Biz column every Friday on our Marketing Land site, wrote an excellent article on Tuesday with observations far beyond what I’m including above, including:

  • some of the unique ways that Google is looking to determine authorship when it’s not obvious
  • the discovery that the extra links won’t always be from the same domain as the main clicked-on article
  • that the extra links don’t always have to be associated with the top search result

Ultimately, AJ suggests that engagement — as measured by time on site — is a measure of satisfaction and may be part of AuthorRank (what Google actually refers to as Agent Rank in its patent filings). His article is highly recommended reading.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: Authorship | Google: Rich Snippets | Google: SEO | Google: User Interface | Google: Web Search | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://twitter.com/jochemvroom Jochem Vroom

    Probably the first of many (hidden) authorships benefits to come.

  • http://twitter.com/macbainiac Hillary MacBain

    I haven’t been able to duplicate these results myself, but it is certainly huge for AuthorRank. It will be interesting to see how it affects visitor behavior, and without a doubt will serve to reward those with Authorship set up. Does this SERP alteration only occur if the visitor clicks the browser back button?

  • Matt Ridout

    Very interesting to read – I’m seeing a lot of changes happening to authorship in the UK, no doubt this is having some influence

  • http://twitter.com/i_praveensharma Praveen Sharma

    That’s very interesting, never noticed that. I think this is something Google just introduced.

  • http://crankleft.com/ Brad Hodson

    Does this install a cookie that causes it to appear on return visits to that search result as well or other results including the same author, or does it only work via the back-button funcionality on a one-time basis?

  • http://www.facebook.com/nirvana2546 Jose Miguel Vera

    This is awesome. If combined with the right topic strategy this could be REALLY good in terms of improving CTR and conversion optimization.

    One could target a specific topic, create specifically targeted “related topics”, and they would just work in harmony for the user looking at the SERPs.

    Then again this would require measuring how Google finds other articles “relevant” to the main topic.

    Either way… awesome feature!

  • http://www.facebook.com/katandmouse Kathy Long

    I saw this yesterday myself for the first time, and so I dId a little testing on my own. I did not get the links if I clicked on other pages on the site, only if I spent time on the home page, but did not click elsewhere.

    Would be interesting to find out how Google chooses which pages to show. Are they the most popular? The ones that have the fewer bounces? Time for a little more review.

  • http://113tidbits.com tonyknuckles

    Word on the street is also hinting at a possible implementation very soon.

  • Lars Skjoldby

    At this point I’m only seeing this in google.com. I’ve tested in google.dk, google.se, google.nl and google.es but “more by” does not show up yet. Really interesting when if it gets rolled out worldwide.

  • http://www.anitaclarkrealtor.com/ Anita Clark

    It worked for me but I wonder if those doing searches will even notice if/when they hit their back browser. Good info as always!

  • http://www.magnetsocialmedia.com/social-media-blog.html Karen Moran

    Ah yes – yet another ploy by Google to get folks on Google + … Ya know that social media site that folks are on less than 3 minutes a month.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ellis.lp.1 Ellis LP

    It seems it is also only the author on the same site. What if an author had multiple articles on multiple sites? That would be an achievement.

  • Matt McGee

    It’s not limited to articles on the same site – I mentioned that in the bullet list there near the end.

  • http://www.linkworxseo.com Link Worx Seo

    Have seen this already. Most people probably do not know this information. Now the real questions is if Google gives you link popularity/value for the extra links? What do you think? Does Google give link popularity/value for these extra links and the fact you added the publisher/author code to a site?

  • http://twitter.com/mprice14 Michael Price

    Time to update google + authorship. Shame I don’t use it

  • http://www.staticshift.com.au/ Static Shift SEO

    Wow! That could be a powerful feature. Does anyone know, does it work on related posts, or popular posts or something different?

  • http://www.facebook.com/SamSandyyy Sandy Sam

    Being display of the author name could be more helpful for authors by getting popular and as well their profiles will get good popular. This could also be happened with a company profile. hope so. is i possible?

  • davidquaid

    Its great to know who wrote the article before you click on it.

    Sorry to see people still complaining that Google+ is only half the size of Facebook….

  • davidquaid

    Super smart observation. Smooth.

  • http://ozgurturanli.com/ Özgür Turanlı

    Why it is quite normal to get folks on Mac in order to be able to write an app for iOS devices, but it is not normal to get folks on G+ ?

  • http://ozgurturanli.com/ Özgür Turanlı

    That’s true. Sometimes authors are much more important than the web page itself.

  • http://twitter.com/davelevenson David

    Once you connect your Google+ to your author page, how long until additional articles start showing up in the SERP? Assuming it takes until Google crawls the authorship page again, despite the fact that the rich snippets show up almost immediately after linking.

  • http://www.magnetsocialmedia.com/social-media-blog.html Karen Moran

    That’s comparing apples to shoes. What does G+ offer the general public that Facebook doesn’t? It’s a complete waste as is evident by the what is it 3 minutes per month average users spend on G+ vs. FB 15+ hours.

  • http://www.MakeUsBrothers.com/ mistah ARK

    Genious Google. A legitimate reason to use G+.

  • http://humanwebsite.com.my/ Kent

    Can we know that people are actually reading? Or they leaving the computer on without reading?

  • http://www.geckoandfly.com/ Ngan Tengyuen

    I do not see an increase in clicks, however there is an increase in impression. Perhaps it has something to do with my titles.

  • http://sportsbooksforbabies.com/ Ken Ashe

    Google is really changing the landscape with this feature.

  • David Vidgen

    This seems a really good addition to the SERPS. If will certainly favour those who write quality and regular content… A lesson for all!

    The 2 mins time lapse seems a fair timeframe. Google favours quality content, therefore if you can command the attention of a reader for this duration, then you are on the right track.

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