On the 28th August 2014, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller announced the end of the Authorship markup program a.k.a. ‘rel=author markup.’
There has been many explanations from Google and counter arguments from SEO experts in the past five months as to why authorship was ended.
Google’s main justification was that apparently there wasn’t a significant improvement in the search experience for users whilst Google Authorship was running.
authorship adoption failure
John Mueller of Google Webmaster tools suggested in his Google+ post that “removing authorship doesn’t reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase the clicks on ads”.
Google had cited that another reason for ending authorship was that too many users either didn’t bother or incorrectly implemented Google Authorship both on their website and other websites they wrote content on. A view shared by Stone Temple Consulting in their blog post on Authorship adoption failure.
John Mueller understood Google Authorship’s complications – “authorship wasn’t always easy to implement”. There was also the huge rise in mobile device usage over the past few years and displaying many Google+ profile pictures on smaller screens with limited speeds may have been just downright impractical.
As the news of authorship’s death broke, many SEO’s were rightly up in arms and aggrieved that they had spent valuable time incorporating Google Authorship into their content in vain.
There was much anecdotal evidence from SEO’s that authorship was working for them and that the abrupt ending of it had made several CTR’s plummet.
However, as Casey Markee points out, regardless of whether or not search engine experience was improved, at least all SEO’s are on a level playing field again.
Google Authorship is dead but the concept is very much alive.
Google have said many times in the past that being a subject authority and verified identity is a ranking signal and will increasingly continue to be so in their forthcoming algorithms:
“We are doing a better job of detecting when someone is an authority in a specific space.”
“We’re trying to make sure that you rank a little more highly if you are some sort of authority or a site that, according to the algorithms, we think might be more appropriate for users.”
– Matt Cutts, May 2013
Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has also previously stated in his book, The New Digital Age, that:
“Information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than information without such verification” and that “The true cost of remaining anonymous may well be irrelevance”.
What this means is that you shouldn’t give up on authoring just yet even though Google’s 3-year testing of authorship has now ended completely.
My Predictions and Suggestions
- Google will continue to pursue personalised and semantic search in a bid to further laser target PPC adverts to users under the veil of improving the ‘search engine experience’.
- Schema markup as means of detecting good quality content and influential authors in a certain niche has failed…this time. Google will look at other measures to obtain the same desired results.
- Don’t ditch your Google+ profile just now. Make sure you are active in your niche and share, interact and publish to an audience that is relevant to your business.
After all, common sense tells you that any medium owned by Google will prove beneficial to interact with if you want to maximise visibility in their rankings.