Google Authorship is Dead


Back in 2011, Google Authorship was first introduced (and back in 2013, we wrote play-by-play blogs on how to implement it).

The feature aimed to provide higher marketability of distinguished authors and a more social-centric Google search—as well as once again pushing for better usership of Google+. Authorship connected with someone’s Google+ page, so when an article was displayed, it would also show the author, a picture and a link to their Google+ profile. Google thought that this information would lead to higher engagement rates (nearly every social media site sees higher engagement when photos are involved), but on the search engine this was not so.   

This past August saw the official demise of the three-year-long experiment. This is an interesting move on behalf of Google—the only real incentive that people had to build a Google+ profile was so that they could get Google Authorship, so now what will happen? Does Google think that Google+ has enough traction for the social media site to survive without Authorship? Or is this just the first of several Google features to hit the “chopping block”?


The efforts of Google to filter out search spam was a main goal of Authorship, so without it, Google may face the same issues it has had since its founding. Spamdexing is the process of manipulating search engine indexes, through a variety of methods, to end up higher in search results and receive more clicks, which this now-gone feature worked against. The past few years has seen an evolution of Google’s search algorithm with Google Caffeine though, which follows with Sergey Brin’s (co-founder of Google) statement: “The smarter we can make the search engine, the better.” Hopefully, the improved algorithm works. Additionally, as mentioned before, Google has released some information commenting on the fact that Authorship did not improve CTR as the company had originally anticipated.


Now, despite the fact Authorship is dead, its best practices can still supplement articles and blogs. One of the greatest assets of Authorship was the reader’s ability to know that the author was knowledgeable on the subject they were writing about. Even though an author’s name and profile no longer appear next to each other in Google Search, it is easy to provide the same experience for one’s readers in a short bio or list of related articles at the bottom of a post. Demonstrating to readers one’s knowledge gives authors a chance to improve upon the click that brought that reader and instill their name in mind when the reader thinks about that subject again.


Google Authorship is gone, but its demise can still educate us about SEO. With the end of Authorship, Google has started to rely more on rich snippets or meta-descriptions for crawling information on the web. Rich snippets are the small bits of text that are displayed underneath a search result, working to draw the reader into clicking on that link. The snippets work to ensure that a user knows whether or not the site shown will help with their query. For now, rich snippets look to have acquired better traction than Authorship ever did. This several-year experiment with Authorship could just be an indicator of the tests Google has planned for its users in the future, as well as a comforting reminder that the search engine won’t keep around features that don’t live up to expectations.