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 articles in the top spot, and it includes my authorship status — name, avatar, Google+ information, etc.

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:

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.

About The Author

Matt McGee
Matt McGee joined Third Door Media as a writer/reporter/editor in September 2008. He served as Editor-In-Chief from January 2013 until his departure in July 2017. He can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee.