Do You Even Google+ Authorship, Bro?

google authorshipA guide to what the heck happened to Google+ Authorship in June 2014

In late June 2014, Google dropped their Google+ authorship photos and follower counts from their search results… The Internet marketing world shook… Well, kinda.

You can look into the update from many perspectives. All Most of which are extremely interesting. After reading over most articles about the update, many Internet marketers are worried about the decrease in click through rates from the loss of authorship photos. While I have noticed an increase in traffic since adding authorship to my personal site, I don’t have enough data to verify their opinions. However, I’m leaning towards popular opinion that I’m going to notice a negative result on desktop. Mobile is a different issue, and I don’t think I will see a major change.

Here are some great Google+ Authorship articles on the topic. Read them, and develop your own opinion.

  • Search Engine Land: Google Drops Profile Photos, Google+ Circle Count From Authorship In Search Results - “Mueller said that the “click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.” For some reason, I highly doubt that, but webmasters can be the judge of that as this gets rolled out.”
  • Search Engine WatchGoogle to Remove Author Images from Search Results - “While usability and eye-tracking tests have shown that having an image appearing in the search results increases click-through rates and attracts users’ eyes to a result a searcher might otherwise overlook, Mueller commented that Google’s “experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.”SEO consultant Kristine Schachinger is one who disagrees with Mueller’s assertion.
  • Moz: Google Announces the End of Author Photos in Search: What You Should Know – “In his announcement, John Mueller said they were working to clean up the visual design of search results, and also to create a “better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices.”

    This makes sense in the way Google has embraced mobile-first design. Those photos take up a lot of real estate on small screens. 

    On the other hand, it also leaves many webmasters scratching their heads as most seemed to enjoy the author photos and most of the web is moving towards a more visual experience.

How the update looks now…

Google Authorship removal

Overall, the update is a bit frustrating for all of us who have fought hard to move our clients towards connecting their site with Google Authorship. However, I believe that this truly does bring up an entirely different point from click through rates. As Cyrus pointed out on the Moz blog, Google’s John Mueller was focused on mobile UX. While there are probably many reasons behind the update, I would look at this as a strong reminder that mobile is a major focus point of Google. The big question for small businesses is, how do you expect to survive online in 2015 without a proper mobile solution?


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