The End of Authorship: Google Strikes Again

 

After only a few years of introducing Authorship into search results, Google has decided to drop the feature completely. The announcement was made last night (28/08/2014) by Google’s John Mueller of Webmaster Tools.  His Google+ post can be seen below:

Possible reasons behind the decision:

  • Low adoption rates by authors and web masters  – A test carried out by Google unearthed that 70% of authors did not bother linking their content to Authorship. With such a poor adoption rate, the project could not work in the way that was envisaged.
  • Low value to searchers – Google claims it has seen very little difference in click behaviour on search results with Authorship snippets verses those without.
  • The rise in mobile – Google Authorship was taking up valuable search real estate which the search engine has stated could be put to more effective use. This was a particular issue on mobile devices where efficiency with regards to space is essential.
  • Distraction from Ads – Not an official Google line, but many search-marketing folk have argued that the clickable Authorship photos were decreasing clicks on Google ads.

 

How will this change take place?

  • When someone performs a search in Google, Author photos will continue to appear for Google+ content (from people they are connected to), when relevant to the query.  This is covered in more detail in last month’s post dealing with Google+ posts in SERPs.
  • For standard search results, author information will no longer be displayed.
  • While the links connecting Google+ accounts to the content will still exist (and will still be useful for your readership to discover more posts), Authorship and social authority will not be used for ranking signals or to inform how prominently your content features.

 

Moving Forward:

  • Authoritative and well-planned content will still be central to any successful online strategy.
  • With Google’s focus on humanising its results with Graph Search and the Hummingbird update, less competitive long-tail queries will become ever more valuable.      
  • While the Authorship project has ended, building authority and a strong reputation on Google+ is still a hugely valuable tactic as Google+ posts are become increasingly prevalent throughout SERPs.  This is also the case for brands (see the aforementioned post dealing with Google+ in SERPs).
  • Content strategy should remain a major consideration for driving trust and authority. Individual experts and spokespeople remain an integral ingredient in its success.

 

More extensive research has been conducted by Search Engine Land: http://searchengineland.com/goodbye-google-authorship-201975

Make It Rain will continue to look into this development. We will provide a more in-depth analysis and strategy in the near future.