Google Authorship: Nothing lasts forever

Google Authorship: Nothing lasts forever

What was Google Authorship?

Google Authorship allowed people to designate themselves as an author of an article on their website using a short piece of code and a Google+ personal profile. This would allow that author to show up in search results with his or her photo and byline (name and link to Google+ profile) next to the listing of the authored article, website or blog.

authorship example

Example of Google search result displaying authorship

Why did Google stop their authorship program?

Last week, however, Google ended its authorship program as reported by on August 28, 2014. Authorship was already on the decline. Back in December 2013, Google would only allow a limited number of authorship photos to show up

in its search engine results pages. Later, Google stopped displaying author’s photos altogether. Perhaps this had to do with the fact that Google was trying to unify its desktop and mobile search results. Photos take up space and because mobile devices have small screens and many mobile users have limited data they may download, authorship photos on mobile searches were not ideal.

Another reason for axing Google Authorship was that, according to studies, not everyone implemented the code correctly, and many authors did not even bother to implement authorship. Google executive Eric Schmidt once said that pages with authorship tags would be ranked higher than pages without authorship tags. As most people want their website or article to rank well among search results, it would seem logical that more people would have implemented the authorship code on their websites. However, this was not necessarily an easy task, leaving only the technologically sophisticated users to implement authorship.

Another reason that Google has halted authorship was that it did not see value in it for Google users. In other words, when Google reviewed its data, it found that people did not click more on results with Google Authorship than results without it. Therefore, in the end, authorship images and bylines were not useful to Google search engine users.

Is authorship really over?

Even Google search results no longer display authorship data, which does not mean that the whole project is dead. At one point, Google tried to match up articles with authors automatically. After a short period, they cut down on that effort. Google is constantly trying to offer new and better products and, thus, perhaps, one day, authorship will come back to Google search in another form.

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Chief Content Officer at Searchlight Online Marketing

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