Q: Google is no more showing Authorship photos. Does this mean Authorship is not as important as it was earlier?
A: John Mueller’s announcement regarding removal of all author photos and Google+ view counts from desktop & mobile search results, was an unpleasant surprise for webmasters. Many wondered why Google would do this?
Here’s what Mueller said:
“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.”
Mueller positioned the change as a user experience decision that was important from Google’s mobile first strategy’s perspective. Google believes that mobile queries may surpass desktop queries before the end of 2014. We can only assume that Google might have conducted tests which showed that users are more satisfied when author photos are not present on their mobile or desktop.
A significant boost in CTR was one of the most valued benefits of Authorship rich snippets. People’s eyes were drawn to results with a face photo thus, it was obvious that such results had higher likelihood of getting clicked.
Mueller in his later comment said, “this is really just about the UI shown in search. We’re always working on making Google Search better – we made 890 updates in 2013 alone. We’ve decided this new design works better, particularly on mobile”.
More on Authorship
When Authorship feature was introduced, it was meant to be for everyman. An open invitation where all you need was content and a Google+ profile. However, at the time also, head of the Authorship project Othar Hannson said that eventual goal of Authorship was to identify top authors and give them higher placement in search results.
For two years, it was an easy thing to get Authorship snippet showing for the content. However, in December 2013, the major change came when Google started to cut back the amount of authorship results showing in the search. As a result, Authorship rich snippet of lesser-known authors disappeared.
What Does the Complete Removal of Authorship Mean?
All we can say is that the change is not the death of Google Authorship. It is not going to impact Google’s long-term vision of understanding author authority and ranking them accordingly.
As a content creator, you can continue to set up Authorship connections between your G+ profile and content present anywhere on the web. Mueller in the announcement also pointed out Google’s instruction page for Authorship implementation.
If you are a qualifying author, your content will definitely get an edge over others on search results, what if the image and Google+ circle count are not present.
So, do not stop creating informative content for your target readers as we believe that Google is tracking data of such authors and it might come into play for a future author rank system.