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Google ends Authorship functionality [@SmartInsights alert]

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 29 Aug, 2014
Essential Essential topic

Google’s use of “rel=author” markup to stop but Google+ posts to continue featuring in search results

Importance: [rating=4]

Recommended link: Google announcement of end of Authorship

Summary of the change

John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a personal Google+ post on 28th August that Google will now stop showing authorship results in Google Search, and will no longer be tracking data from content using rel=author markup.

From a Google user point of view this means you will no longer see author images in pictures like this one from a briefing written by Chris Soames in 2012:

In fact, you may have noticed from around a month ago that Google removed the author images. In this new announcement they are taking the next step and removing the author information too.

We’re also alerting you to this since more significantly from an SEO point of view Google has said that they are no longer using the data associated with markup.

The Reasons for the Removal of Authorship?

Google gives these reasons:

  1. 1. Low adoption rates by authors and webmasters. While many marketing sites like our have enthusiastically adopted Authorship, this was not the case in other sectors.Searchengineland reports on this test that showed that even amongst major publishers journalists were not integrating their Google+ profiles:


  2. 2. Low value to searchers. Google has said there is limited difference in click behaviour, i.e. clickthrough rate from results with these rich author snippets. This goes against what we have found and others have reported, but the decision has been made anyway. John Mueller has said:

    If you’re curious – in our tests, removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads. We make these kinds of changes to improve our users’ experience”.

Implications for Marketers?

Well, if you were planning to implement authorship, you can discard that task! If you already have you can disable the feature to slightly reduce page bloat, although most will keep the markup even if it's redundant I imagine.

Is this the end of Google+?

Many have taken this change as a yet another sign of the impending end of Google+. While it certainly removes a key feature integrating Google+ into the search results Jon Mueller reminds us that Google will still feature personalised Google+ link recommendations in the search results page, so this is not a reason to stop activity on Google+:

It’s also worth mentioning that Search users will still see Google+ posts from friends and pages when they’re relevant to the query — both in the main results, and on the right-hand side. Today’s authorship change doesn’t impact these social features”.

Google has also stated that it is committed to other forms of Schema.org markup - so we still encourage these for SEO purposes.

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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