Three years ago, SEO consultants all over the world began prodding their clients to get on the Google Authorship bandwagon. They insisted that participating in Google Authorship would improve their clients’ web rankings and increase web traffic to their sites.
Perhaps you followed that advice and, as a result, enjoyed seeing your smiling face next to your published content in search engine result pages (SERPs).
So, why would Google, on August 28, 2014, remove Google authorship? More importantly, what are the implications of this decision for your business?
In this article, you will learn what Google Authorship was, why Google did away with it and what you should do next.
Google Authorship explained
Let’s say you are an expert on a particular topic, AND you write extensively about it on the web. Not only do you write for your own blog, but you also contribute to other blogs. Shouldn’t all your effort go towards your clout and get you to the top of SERPs?
That’s what Google team thought, and that’s why they created Google Authorship. The authors, or their webmasters, and the publishers had to do some tinkering (i.e., using a hidden web code: rel=author markup) to make sure the authors’ names were always connected to the content they wrote.
Each author would also be connected to his or her Google+ profile. If the profile had a picture, that picture would show up in SERPs along with the website featuring the author.
Why did Google kill Authorship?
Google gave two reasons for terminating its Authorship experiment.
Reason #1: Low adoption
For the project to work, it needed to be adopted by most content producers. This was not the case.
Both the authors and the content publishers were slow to implement the required linking of the author’s content to the author.
Many technically-challenged authors felt the process was too complex. As a result, they didn’t participate in the global project, or when they did, they did it incorrectly.
Reason #2: Low value to searchers
Google’s primary goal is to make its search results meaningful to the end user – the searcher. Although early data indicated Google Authorship helped the end user, as more data was compiled, the Google team came to the conclusion that the searcher did not benefit from the Authorship feature.
To make matters worse, Google’s team determined the author images, accompanying URLs with Authorship implemented, distracted the searchers and cluttered their mobile experience.
Plus, the cost to Google – in both money and processing power – of supporting Authorship in web search was too high for the benefit it provided (or didn’t).
What should you do next?
First, don’t panic. If you haven’t participated in Google Authorship, you have nothing to lose.
If you have, the end of Google Authorship should not affect your search rankings or your web traffic in any significant way, according to Google.
If you are wondering whether you need to remove Authorship markup, Google states you don’t have to. The markup will not affect the way Google performs its searches.
Now that we are clear on what you don’t have to do, here are a few tips on what you should do:
- Continue to use bylines, when guest-blogging in particular, which will connect your name to your content and your website.
- Consider ramping up your Google+ efforts. Although Google+ has been called a ghost platform by some, it can prove valuable, especially for personalised search. The more useful posts you publish on Google+, the more they will be shared, the more people will see them, and the more likely you will appear in relevant searches, especially when people are logged into their Google+ accounts.
Although Google’s experiment with Authorship failed, it wasn’t because the idea behind it was flawed. It was because its implementation was too cumbersome.
It’s possible we will see other moves by Google to help authors be recognised in web search results according to their authority.
In the meantime, continue best SEO practices and give Google+ a whirl, if you haven’t already.