If you’ve noticed that your photo has disappeared from the search results recently you’re not alone. As of June 29, 2014, Google eliminated all Authorship photos from its search results.
For those of you unaware of Google Authorship, it was launched in 2011 as a way to highlight contributors (authors) in search results. In order to claim your Authorship and be highlighted you simply needed to have a Google+ personal page with links to the website or blog you contributed to. By simply adding the rel=author markup to your website or blog you could “help” Google recognize your credibility.
Back in 2013, Google’s Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, announced that Google would start cutting back on the Authorship snippets (photos) showing up in search results. This may have coincided with when you noticed your photo disappear. Cutts’ decision was based on tests that Google ran that claimed that when author snippets were cut by 10-15% “overall quality” improved.
Fast forward to today. The Authorship markup is still relevant, but the snippet you see is different. With your Google+ profile image gone, now you’ll simply see the author’s name.
So why were Authorship photos removed? Google’s John Mueller said that they were trying to clean up the search results and they were looking to provide a better mobile experience. Obviously photos take up quite a bit of space on mobile devices.
While Authorship photos have been removed, Authorship is still alive. As I mentioned above, the author’s name still appears in search results. You can also still see your Authorship click-through rates in Webmaster Tools by clicking Labs > Author Stats.
It’s also worth noting that Google still plans to show Authorship photos in Google News, but I have yet to see any search results that confirm this.
With all these changes to Authorship one might wonder if it’s still worth it? The simple answer is yes, mainly because it’s so easy to claim your Authorship. While you may not have your photo shown, you still get an “enhanced” search listing with your name. Furthermore, being an author or contributor makes you more credible, and credible content ranks higher. Therefore, why not show Google that you produce quality, unique content?
Who knows what the future will hold for Google Authorship, but it makes sense to position yourself as a credible author, just in case Google decides to re-introduce photos. Or perhaps Google shifts its algorithm to favor authors? A lot will depend on what happens with Google+, which as I mentioned back in May, has failed to launch.
If you’d like to learn more about Google+ and claiming your Authorship leave us a message here. You can also reach TRBO directly at 877-673-7096 x2.