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Is Google Authorship Gone For Good?

Google recently discontinued Google Authorship in its search results? What does this mean for your site's SEO?

What did Google do this time? All eyes are always on Google as they continue to update and refine their methods of determining the best search results for everyone who uses the internet, and their recent changes to Google Authorship (as detailed by Google’s John Mueller) are the latest move that has people talking. We’ve discussed Google Authorship before, but this latest change may have rendered the topic null and void, since Google has effectively removed Authorship from its search results. Let’s look at what this means for your site:

Authorship Explained

Google introduced Authorship in 2011, allowing site editors to use markup to identify the author of an article or blog and link it to their Google+ page. People who implemented Authorship would have the possibility of seeing “rich snippets” in their search results, in which their author photo and a link to their Google+ page would be included alongside links to their content on search results pages.

Google experimented with Authorship since it was implemented, but they’ve reported that it fell short of their expectations, finding that it did not significantly affect people’s behavior. They also found that many site authors either did not implement Authorship markup or did so incorrectly. This combination of factors led them to begin phasing out Authorship, beginning in December 2013, when they reduced the amount of rich snippets which were displayed in search results. In June 2014, they removed author photos from search results altogether, and in August 2014, they stopped showing any Authorship information in search results at all. However, rich snippets do continue to appear in search results for users who are logged in to Google+ and have the authors of the content within their network.

What Does This Mean For Me?

As with everything they do, Google’s experiment with Authorship was meant to improve search results and help people find the information they were looking for. Google recognized the importance for content authors to establish themselves as an authority in their area of expertise, and Authorship was an attempt to verify this authority and help people recognize it. However, due to the difficulties people had implementing it and the lack of measurable benefits, Google decided that it wasn’t working and chose to discontinue it.

However, this doesn’t mean that the idea of authorship is completely dead. As we mentioned above, Google+ profile photos are still included in personalized search, so it’s still a good idea to link your Google+profile to your content in order to reach people who you’ve already connected with.

In addition, the SEO community still emphasizes the importance of Author Rank, which is an unofficial term for an unannounced Google algorithm that takes an author’s authority into consideration. While most of the discussion around Author Rank is speculative, Google has confirmed that it does affect the results in their “in-depth articles” feature.

What all this information boils down to is that while the technical details of Authorship aren’t as important as they used to be, it’s still incredibly important to establish yourself as an authority in your subject. Creating relevant, informative content that provides value to your audience is still the best way to drive traffic to your website, and establishing relationships with your site’s visitors and encouraging them to share your content on social media is a great way to increase that audience and generate more leads and conversions.

Do you have any questions for us about how you can improve your site’s SEO and ensure people are able to find you through Google and other search engines? Do you want to know more about how you can create content that engages your audience and increases your site’s traffic? Please contact us to speak with a SEO Expert, or feel free to leave a comment below.

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