Though it seems like a flaw but if one can find how this whole thing works, Google Plus Authority Signal can be Gamed. Here is what happened today :
For one of the query, My Nokia Drive XAP Leak post was displaying Matt Cutts Google Plus Profile Picture . First I thought he shared the post but then when I took a careful look it wasnt showing me shared by but rather it was “By” Followed by the Circle name in which I had added Matt Cutts. Below is a screenshot : ( Clock on Images for More Details )
If I am not wrong this happens only when one has followed the Author markup procedure where one need to link to his google plus profile and then add back the site link to his google plus profile. Read More.
However one thing to notice in the search result is that it never shows By Matt Cutts but only shows his profile pic.So only when you add him to the circle you would know who he is. Secondly I am not sure if this is impacting search results seen by users who have added him or he has add. No expertise on that.
To confirm, I pinged [email protected] and asked him to find what he sees for the same query and he provided with the screenshot below which confirms that he sees the same thing as I did, except it was Add to Circle for him as Matt Cutts was not there in his circle.
Before Adding Matt Cutts to Circle :
After Adding Matt Cutts to Circle :
So what happened ? ( The only thing which I see )
It was mistake on my part. While adding author markup for my new website WPXBOX.COM, I accidentally added Matt Cutts Google Plus Profile link from some tutorial or something and added to the author metadata of my profile on the site. I must have forgotten to change it later and that’s why I see it now.
“So the bigger question is, where is the problem and what impact it can lead to ? Will it affect search engine ranking based on authorship signal, which Google might have added to recent panda algorithm update ? Though I can’t speculate how many numbers of users might be seeing this search result, but we did another check with completely different Gmail id having Google+ profile and we didn’t see similar search result.
No doubt this is highly socialized search result and might depend on whom you have added to your Google + circles, but its search ranking impact can only be answered by Googlers or SEO experts.”
I am keeping the links as is if somebody wants to check. You can find the Author Details right after the post.
I will drop it off after 2 days as it is not making any sense and its wrong.