Google Makes Decision to Stop Showing Authorship in Search Results
It’s been a long and bumpy ride but as of today, Google made the move to eliminate authorships from its search results. John Mueller of the Google Webmasters team blogged the announcement, calling the decision “difficult” but a process that had been “fun and interesting” to develop.
Launched in 2011, Google+ authorship had served as an indicator in the search results of who the author of an article was. Tied to their Google+ profiles, authors could have their photos next to search results providing added context for the users. This was a great feature for anyone looking to gain more exposure online with their content. However, in late 2013, photos were reduced from search results, leaving authors to rely largely on their byline instead. While it looked like the changes being made to it signaled that the search engine still wanted to keep it around longer, it didn’t take long for Google to scrap the whole display idea as they announced in June of this year that author photos would be completely removed from searches. Google attributed this to making their presentation more mobile friendly and that author photos would be problematic for search results.
Apparently, the feature was not performing to Google’s expectations. Mueller stated that users were not finding any function for it and that authorship could even “distract” them from what they were looking for. He pointed out that while it was a good feature in tracking who wrote what’s being read, tests show that removing it didn’t impact clicks. Comments made on his blog post however, show that many disagree.
The move to stop displaying Google+ authorship on search results was preceded by the lifting of restrictions to use real names on your Google+ profiles last June. Regardless of authorship removal on search results, Mueller says that Google+ posts relevant to a search query will still show up.
Mueller was thankful for the feedback from different webmasters and to those that stuck with it even through all the bugs and reception. Having been with the authorships program since the beginning, the choice to end it could not have been an easy one, but Google is built on experimenting with innovative ideas, some of which that click while others do not. With Mueller encouraging constant feedback from users, it should be interesting to see what comes from the suggestions he’s taking.