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General Discussion  - 
 
Does an Author Photo in SERPs Increase CTR?

+Matt McGee in a post today asked if there were any "definitive studies" demonstrating the oft-repeated alleged benefit of the Authorship rich snippet. +Max Minzer and +AJ Kohn responded with links to three they of which they were aware. I thought it would be useful to share them here:

"How Optimizing My Ugly Google+ Photo Increased Free Traffic 35% (by +Cyrus Shepardhttp://goo.gl/8jQbX

"What Makes for a Good Author Photo in the Local Search Results?" (by +Mike Blumenthal) http://goo.gl/t66iW - this one isn't really a CTR study, but rather uses survey data to gauge how uses react to different faces in a search for a lawyer.

"Click Through Rate Increased 38% with Rel Author" (by +Russell Jensen)  http://goo.gl/x5A6y

"How Rich Snippets Can Improve Your CTR" (by +Catalyst) http://goo.gl/xPXaW
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Jorgen Poulsen's profile photoKaren Peck's profile photoAlex Wilson-Campbell's profile photoNeil Ferree's profile photo
33 comments
 
2 sources citing 35% & 38% increase seems to be consistent. Do you think it would be reasonable to say from this that an author picture in your SERP can give around a one third increase in CTR?
 
I definitely see thae value in having an author pic. However, I wonder if the increase also can be attributed to other factors such as ranking. I also wonder if an author pic could decrease CTR depending on the search query.

It's probably safe to assume that a lot of internet users are still clueless about authorship. When performing a search query, assuming they are unaware of authorship, some might view the author pic as cheezy, not professional etc.

This is just something I've been curious about for awhile.
 
One person mentioned in the SEOMOZ article

"Great test Cyrus! I heard all about it when our guys came back from Mozcon.

I've also done some tests with this, although not as intense as your own. I've tested click thru rate when displaying an image of a man vs an attractive woman. 9 out of 10 times the woman slaughtered the man and brought more traffic."
 
+Jason Hill a couple of responses:

1. Sure it's difficult to isolate the reasons for a rise in CTR or traffic, but in the tests listed there was no evidence of radical change in ranking at the time. The only thing that changed was adding the author photo.

2. I would expect that everyone's mileage would vary. 

3. You can be sure that the fact that after a year and a half since author photos are still showing when many other rich result experiments have come and gone means that Google knows they generally work. That is, Google can see that in general users are "happier" when they click these results (and by "happier" I mean that they don't tend to bounce right back and click something else).

Google wouldn't let something persist in the SERPs that was causing more users to be less happy with their results.
 
It stands to reason that having a picture in SERPs would result in improved CTR.  But how would you measure that against other links (on the same results page) to make a comparison?
 
+Alex Wilson-Campbell you don't. You measure it against itself. That is, you look at the traffic that a given page got before and after an author photo starts showing. The hypothesis is that if nothing else has changed (i.e., your rankings are still generally the same), then the photo caused more people to click the result.
 
Makes perfect sense +Mark Traphagen I wouldn't imagine google would allow author pics to be part of search if they weren't statistically proven to increase CTR and lower bounce rate. I still think there may be some isolated niches that may not fair as well but on the overall average, I have noticed a major decrease in bounce rate on my sites. Though, about a third of that traffic came directly from gplus...interesting.
 
+Jorgen Poulsen I'm so glad you brought up the gender factor. This is something I have thought about in great detail.

One of my blogs is a review site for electric shavers. One of my top competitors has a very attractive pic of a female showing in search.

I'm not going debate that a women can't know as much about electric shavers for guys as a guy, but I will assume that she recieves a higher amount of clicks due to the attractive author pic.

Fortunately for me, the content on her site is...well it sucks, wheras my reviews are well researched. While she may get more clicks, I'll bet my CTR as far as conversions are well higher so I guess it may average out.

Maybe I will get a second Gplus profile under my fiances name...she's gorgeous! lol, :-)
 
The worst part is that I just realised that my Author photo has disappeared. So check now and then to make sure it's still there. Now I have to try and engage the Author Photo master +Mark Traphagen to try and help me out.
 
I recently cut my hair, but for some odd reason I'm not ready to update my profile pick...I like seeing myself still with long hair, I guess it's an Indian thing, lol. However, this article really has got me thinking...I may go have some professional pics taken and get a real nice close-up.

I've done some research on color and emotions and purchasing behavior. I can see how having the right pic with the right background color could make a huge impact on CTR...something to think about.
 
+Jorgen Poulsen did you check your url with google's rich snippets tool? Sometimes an author pic just doesn't show. Nothing is broken in most cases, just Google chooses when it is appropriate for the author pic to show.
 
+elena bartoletti stella I do know that gender does play a role in Interactions on G+ if you use the right profile pictures. And I am sure that it plays a role on Search CTR. +Neil Ferree I refuse to dye my hair blond also. But I have no problem hiring my wife to write blog posts for me and attributing Authorship to her.
 
IMO, you'd be wise to hire the wife and leverage her skill (but) if you have an ounce of sense → you'll give her a raise and let her dye her hair any color she wants else you're gonna get in big trouble ;-p
 
Haha! I think she is going for jet black. That works for me!
 
Great article and I would say its spot on - 
 
Definitely a difference in gender when I ask men...read +Cyrus Shepard 's seomoz article on it...I'm wondering about changing my picture and dying my hair blonde..lol
 
what if a business was to change their image to grumpy cat? will the conversions go up?
 
A cat doing something odd as a giff might make people click on it but would they really be interested in what you do - no. Some traffic is not worth having.
 
er, what business is relevant to a grumpy cat? Buy our product, and you too will wear a GRRRumpy cat face. Buyer beware - this business sucks!  
 
the Guinness ad?
I've never tried it because I don't like it.
 
Sorry +Donnie Strompf ...but is there a D? lol, I dislike B the most...actually I think your current pic rocks, very personable, not silly but not serious...looks genuine.
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