Are you signed up with Google Authorship? If you’re not sure, try googling your name or your site’s name and see if your photo appears in the search engine results page (SERP).
No photo? No Google+ circle count?
Welcome to the end of Google Authorship as we knew it.
I admit to being behind the curve in acknowledging the incredible disappearing Authorship, which occurred while I was distracted with the Vancouver Jazz Festival. In this post I had originally planned to explain how to sign up for Authorship.
Instead, I’m going to explain what you’ll be missing.
Wither Google Authorship
Google Authorship came about soon after the release of Google+ on 2011. It provided a “rich snippet” of information – including a headshot – meant to be an extension of your profile on Google+ and close the loop of author identification on the web.
With Authorship, you and your website became one and the same in SERPs.
When your site came up in a SERP, so did the photo that you uploaded in your Google+ profile. The rational was that since people like images, they are naturally inclined to click on a link that has a photo of your smiling face.
Not only did your face appear, so did a Google+-linked byline and the number of Google+ circles you’re in, so readers can see how popular you are. And there was also a “More By” link to other posts you’ve written.
Also, when readers click back to the SERP after viewing your site for a few minutes, Google would present more links to your posts because it knows people want to see more of you.
Google Authorship was created to improve the user experience by favouring sites with single authors who control their own content. Google wanted to promote real human beings who creating content and stamp out the anonymous spammers.
Until they didn’t
Google had been tightening the reigns on Google Authorship since 2013. In December they confirmed a 15% reduction in the number of rich snippets being doled out to content authors. This was their way of separating the wheat from the chaff.
Since then, Authorship photos disappeared sporadically, and by June 25 they went away completely. That day, John Mueller of Google made this announcement on his Google+ page:
We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we’re simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count. (Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.)
So essentially, Google Authorship was thrown under the bus for the sake of better mobile SERP display.
But, if you are a verified Author, your byline will still remain. Here’s the new look.
Mark Traphagen at Moz wrote an analysis of what Google was thinking when they dropped Authorship. In it, he speculates that Authorship photos sent a loaded message to web surfers, almost like an endorsement or an implication of ranking, and that Google didn’t want that.
Also, he wonders if not enough quality authors were signing up for the program, thus diluting its importance.
Then, there is the theory that Google Authorship competed with Google ads. After all, whose link would you click on: a smiling face or a brand logo?
Is Google Authorship Worth Verifying?
Yes, indeed, Google Authorship verification is still worthy of your time. Your byline will still appear in the SERP and that is something, since it tells the searcher that a real person wrote the post. Heck, they might even recognize your name.
And, according to Traphagen, Authorship is still going to build your ranking with Google since you are still taking personal credit for writing great stuff.
I’ve already done my Authorship diligence, so there is no reason to un-do it.
My biggest regret, other than the obvious, is that I didn’t grab a screenshot of my rich snippet before the photo went away.
How about you? Has the end of Google Authorship photos affected you? Please bitch about it below.