Google Not Worried About Spamming & Faking Author Details In Structured Data

Google recently started to support author.url and other author properties that let you communicate to Google which author wrote an article on your site. I asked John Mueller of Google if he is worried if people will fake author details and spam it, to try to possibly boost any rankings they may get from this. John said no, he is not worried right now.

The issue is, anyone can add anything to structured data, so it is technically easy to spam. The truth is, we see that some sites will use popular author names on their content as well, as a way to fake authority on their own sites. It happens all the time. So I guess Google has some experience with this.

It is funny, because Google removed authorship year ago, only to bring it back in a way that is less verifiable. Although, Google has said it can recognize authors without authorship, this is before Google officially supported this new author.url property in the article structured data.

So I asked John if he is worried this might result in a new form of spam and he said “We use a lot of signals in Search, so I’m not too worried about spam yet.” He did confirm again that Google does use structured data “to better understand the context of a page, which can have ranking effects (ranking for more appropriate queries, not a broad change in position).”

Here are those tweets:

What is to stop me from saying Steven Levy wrote this article in the structured data? Nothing. But will Google pick up on it and know it is fake? Probably over time.

Although, John said he doesn’t expect this to be used for ranking so soon, although some engineers may look to see if it can be trusted for that purpose:

Forum discussion at Twitter.