RIP Google Authorship
Once again another Google product has bitten the dust, but this time it was one that many people actually used and found to be valuable.
Yesterday (Thursday 28 August) Google's John Mueller announced in a Google+ post that it was removing all Authorship from search results, plus would stop tracking the data from rel=author markup on all websites.
And overnight this has now happened. Coincidentally, I checked the SERPs yesterday for something to use in a future presentation and now, in the same search, my name has been removed.
This is possibly not completely surprising, as only back in June this year Google tweaked the snippets to remove the author profile photo and circle count – a sign that it was looking more closely at this product.
Unlike some of the previous products it has archived (who remembers Google Wave?!), Authorship was one that many website owners and marketers did actually find useful.
Yes there were people who used it to 'spam' the SERPs (I'm looking at you, voucher code sites), but lots of quality blogs and content sites did adopt it.
The supposed benefits of Authorship included increased clickthrough rates (CTRs), which Google is now seemingly denying ever existed, yet our own testing (and that of others, including the likes of Moz's Cyrus Shephard) had found that it could indeed increase traffic.
And besides this, having a name and photo against search results did help to build the expertise of those authors, plus helped them claim the content as their own.
We even had fun at Fresh Egg seeing how long it took Google to remove a photo of a peach as a profile picture, as it thought it was someone's bottom!
It will be interesting to see the impact this now has on Google+. Many people created an account on the platform purely so they could link it to their site and gain Authorship.
We will update on this area and any related subjects as and when they come to light.
For a full update on this latest change from Google, we suggest you read this excellent blog post from Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen on Search Engine Land.
What should you do as a website owner? In this case, there is not a lot you can do, although as part of your housekeeping you may choose to remove any rel=author code rom your site to help keep the code bloat down.
There is a chance that Google may decide to reintroduce Authorship again, but this announcement does seem like a definite burial to us.