The Walking Dead, Google Authorship Edition

Summary of Search

Google recently announced the end of Google Authorship, a feature the SEO community thought might become a major part of Google’s ranking formula. With Google Authorship, photos of writers were shown in Google’s search results – when rel=”author” and rel=”me” tags were embedded pointing to their Google plus profile.

zombie-156055_640In December 2013, Google reduced the amount of authorship photos showing in their search results. Then photos were removed altogether in June. And finally, Google completely removed Authorship from their search results last week.

Low Adoption Rates by Webmaster and Authors
Authorship was sometimes difficult to implement, and not appropriate for all sites. Many brands didn’t feel a person’s photo was the best representation in Google’s search results.

Provided Low Value for Searchers
Some studies showed an increase in click-throughs for listings with Google Authorship. But Google found users were often being distracted from the best content.

Snippets that Matter
Google’s Representative John Mueller did provide Google’s future direction: Expanding support of “This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we’ll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.” The rich snippets for “People” and “Organization” are certainly something to include where possible/applicable.

Implications for Google Plus
Google plus adoption is well below expectations, especially considering the tie in with popular services such as gmail and youtube. Google authorship was also tied in, and meant to improve the social rank in search results for those producing great content. With the death of Google Authorship, it looks like one more “nail in the coffin” for Google plus.

Are Authors Important?
Some interesting bits of information have been given away by Google. Amit Singhal, the head of Google Search, said that Author Rank was used for the “In-depth articles” section – which appears in 12% of Google’s search results.

Google has also long been able to read bylines: These were used before Google patented “Author Rank” in 2007, are more naturally included where applicable, and are likely to continue being used.

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