I'm posting this in Organic SEO but I think it's a lesson that applies equally to Local Search. The ultimate point is one that has been made many times over the years but deserves repeated reminders. Humans tend to be correlational thinkers - we all do it - it's the foundation of superstitious learning. And this is another example of why we need to be vigilant about not falling into the trap of inferring causation from correlation.

Can Google Authorship Really Cause a Huge Traffic Drop? [Case Study]
by Chuck Price, Search Engine Watch
August 4, 2013

Alex Yumashev created quite a stir with his claim that Google authorship decreased his traffic by 90 percent. He certainly got my attention, as I had recently spoken at a conference as a proponent of authorship and had also written Google+: A Quick Start Guide to help people get started with authorship. If authorship turns out to be a double-edged sword, that could be a real problem. After reading Yumashev's "analysis" and takeaways, it looked to me like he got one of his takeaways right: "Google Webmaster tools is a must". The remaining conclusions were dubious and challenged by many, including Matt Cutts, who wrote in a Hacker News thread:

"Authorship had nothing to do with this site's drop. The site has been affected by our Penguin webspam algorithm and that accounts for the drop."

Alrighty then, case closed. Just another example of correlation being confused with causation.

Still – even if that is the case, the question remains: are their cases where authorship does more harm than good?

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