After 3 years of existence, Google Authorship is the next in a very long list of Google products and features that we can wave goodbye to. Google Authorship was born in 2011 as a way of linking authors to their written content online.
If an authors content appeared in the search results, then next to the writing you would see a photo of the author, to give you an instant recognisable image that you can click on, but the authorship was more about Google understanding that you were the author (and therefore expert) in a particular sector and rewarding your efforts accordingly.
As consultants in this space, we encouraged our clients to attribute this mark-up to every article that they wrote, based on the ‘7 points of the future‘ that was published at the start of 2013, where the CEO of Google publicly stated that information tied to an online profile would be ranked higher that those that were not. However, after testing the service for 3 years, Google have decided that it’s not a service that is beneficial to continue with. The two main reasons cited were
- Small implementation in most vertical markets. The adoption rate of this particular mark-up of data was extremely small, and in most cases non-existent. So a lot of businesses just either weren’t aware of this mark up – or deemed it wasn’t important enough to use.
- It made no difference to the searcher. Apparently the click through rates of these marked-up posts were no higher (or lower) to posts that did not have the client author attribution. So it didn’t have any influence at all on click through rates.
This move comes very shortly after the decision to remove the images of the authors, but also a huge reduction in the amount of Youtube rich snippets too. A year ago when you compiled a search on Google you were presented with a very colourful results page that pulled information and images in from a variety of platforms. Now, the reverse is true. Whilst of course you still get a variety of search results the page is completely devoid of any images.
It could be that the mobile market is driving this change, and that on a small scale device images take up most of the real estate and therefore the searcher does not get quite the same amount of choice. Of course the cynics amongst us might have noticed that, of course, the product images (that appear when you are advertising through Google for an online purchase) now really stand out as the most eye-catching part of the Google SERPs page.
We are still strong advocates of marking up your data on your website, so whilst at this moment in time Google have announced that they are not taking any notice of this particular piece, we are not going to delete our authorship. At this moment leaving the authorship in place won’t have any positive or negative impact. Also, Google have been known to change their mind… so for now we’re sitting tight!