Does Authorship Affect Rankings? A Rand Fishkin Study

by Craig Addyman
Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency

So as the title suggests, does Authorship have an affect on rankings? Here’s the experiment…

Take an unauthoritative blog (mine) and an authoritative blogger (Rand Fishkin) and see what happens.

The Back Story

In June 2012 I contacted Rand Fishkin of Moz and asked him if we could set up an interview, Rand being Rand, he accepted my offer and I fired over my questions and awaited his reply – after a few exchanges, I published the interview and although it did very well; driving lots of traffic and shares etc. it never really ranked very well, I assume because of lots of high profile blogs such as SEObook have interviewed him also. I don’t actually try to get my site to rank for anything specific but my Rand interview was something I have always kept an eye on, simply because I have always thought it was particularly good and it deserved to rank higher (bias much), I didn’t just throw him some questions, I really tried to do my homework and make it as insightful as possible.

Fast forward to April 2013 I contacted Rand again and asked him about pointing his Google+ page at my site, specifically the interview I did and I’d add his authorship mark-up to the page and see if it would have any affect on its rankings – Essentially a good test to use an authoritative figure’s authorship on an unauthoritative blog.

After months and months of no improvements from ranking between 9th and 12th position and no authorship showing I stumbled upon an article on Moz about getting your authorship to show (authorship for my own name showed on all my posts but not Rands for that page). Anyway I followed the advice and it turned out I didn’t have Rands full name marked-up, so I changed it to be his full name matching his Google+ profile and waited. That Moz article was published on the 21st of January 2014, I actually caught it on the 30th of that month, you can see on the blog that I have updated it on that date (I updated a link within the article after I updated his authorship).

The Results

After 7 days, Rands authorship picture is finally showing so that’s good but more surprising were the affects it had on rankings…

It’s jumped from consistently ranking between 9th & 12th position to…number 1!

Check out this SERP here and you should find that my interview with Rand is ranking number one. Obviously not wanting to actually link to it, your looking for this

authorship affect rankings


Is this conclusive evidence that Authorship has a direct affect on rankings? Well I wouldn’t go that far but it is more than a little weird how a two year old post that has never ranked anywhere near the number one spot and had a number of high profile blogs ranking above it, would suddenly jump to the number one spot once Authorship for a authoritative figure was correctly implemented and shows through…

Just a few things to note…

  • I updated a link on the post, the anchor text stayed the same but the link changed slightly – This was on the 30th when I updated the authorship mark-up.
  • Also I have lately made a few changes to the sites layout, I used to have it set to show 100 post on the homepage but now it only shows 10 – Essentially placing the interview post in a worse position (not linked to directly from the homepage).
  • I’ve started blogging a little more regularly, mainly about Python and some scripts I have written but no real changes in traffic or links gained.

What do you think? Leave a comment below…

Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
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