Does Google Authorship Markup Hurt or Help Rankings?
You may remember that I have mentioned in my post "Google Authorship Markup Disadvantages Everybody Ignores" how my wife's site has lost rankings almost immediately after I implemented the Google authorship markup on her site.
One reader specifically asked in the comments whether the ranking drop was only temporary or whether the site has recovered since then.
It took me a few weeks to find out. First I waited some weeks to make sure that it wasn't just a random fluctuation. Then after the position remained steady at the new lower position I finally removed the authorship markup so that you couldn't see my wife's image on Google search results anymore.
Then again I waited for some time to make sure potential ranking changes have enough time to show. Again, nothing happened. My wife's site is still at the lower position that she occupied after I introduced the authorship markup.
Google hasn't reacted to the removal of the authorship link in the site's head.
I have tested both manually using a clean browser and using two ranking checkers. One of them even considers local search results so that the ranking for the given keyword was not #7 but #14 with an additional "local pack" of 7 items.
I know this is not a "scientific" experiment or something and it's not very representative but at least there were no obvious ranking ups or downs. What does this mean? Does authorship markup has no effect on rankings in Google?
I can't conform this in my case. The lack of recovery can also mean that once you plug in your authorship Google remembers who you are even in case you remove the link. So be careful before identifying before your Google overlords. They, like Facebook, may never again let you go and you will always be watched by their Agent Rank radar.
Of course all of this is just mere speculation. I still advise you to be cautious. Not every toy or sweet Google offers you is really beneficial to you. Make sure to as yourself what benefits and damages it can bring. So does Google authorship markup hurt or help rankings in search results?
We still don't know for sure. The quote by Eric Schmidt many people consider proof is taken a bit out of context.
It would be logical for Google to penalize anonymous sites though. So I expect that one day Google authorship markup will help those authors get higher rankings who are actively using Google+ for example or garner lots of +1 votes. My wife doesn't so she got identified as a low authority author apparently. I may use my Google Profile to test it again to find out whether my "power user" status will have some feasible positive impact.
* The results remained steady over the whole time with the exception of no local pack results included at the beginning and in the middle two outlier results where apparently my wife's site was among the local results on top.