Google Authorship Eliminated from Google Search Results

OMG! Have You Heard? Google Authorship Eliminated from Google Search Results!

Today, Google proclaimed that it has eliminated Google Authorship from the search results. To be precise, the search engine has dropped all the authorship functionalities from the search results and webmaster tools. The Google Authorship experiment has finally ended giving the final result that everyone least expected.

RIP Google Authorship

The Announcement

John Mueller declared in a Google+ post today that there won’t be authorship results in Google search now and Google won’t be tracking data from content by means of rel=author markup any longer.

Now, we know the latest announcement, but how did these things happen or even start in the first place? That surely leaves us with some questions. So, like we always do, it’s time for us to unravel some mysteries and tap some untapped areas.

Where did Google Authorship come from?

Google Authorship is rooted in the 2007’s Google’s Agent Rank patent. Bill Slawski, a Google patent’s expert, described that the Agent Rank patent signified a system that connected multiple pieces of content by means of a digital signature that represented one or more authors.

This identification could then be utilized for scoring the agent on the groundswell of trust and authority signals that point at the agent’s (author’s) content, and that score could be utilized for influencing search rankings.

So, Agent Rank basically remained a theoretical concept without any practical approach or application until its adoption by Google for structured markup. In June 2011, Google proclaimed via a blog post that it would begin supporting authorship markup. The organization started encouraging webmasters to mark up content on their sites using the rel= “author” and rel= “me” tags, connecting every piece of content with an author profile.

Then, the unveiling of Google+ near the completion of June, 2011 made the room for the complete utilization of Authorship for Google. Now, Google+ profiles could easily serve as Google’s global identity platform to connect authors with their content.

In addition, there came a video in the month of August in the same year in which the heads of the Authorship project rendered explicit instructions on the way authors should connect their content with their corresponding Google+ profiles. With that being done, one could show his/ her profile photo in the search results and also, they mentioned that for the first time the data from the Authorship could be utilized as a ranking factor.

So, over the upcoming years (3 actually), Authorship in search underwent numerous changes and iteratively, Matt Cutts and other Google spokespersons have claimed a long-term commitment to the concept of author authority by Google.

How come Authorship gotten toward extinction?

In the year 2013, Google abated the amount of author photo snippets that are shown for every query, as Matt Cutts, the Google’s webspam head, promised that the same thing would happen at some time in October. Beginning with December, an author photo was displayed in only a few search results, while all others displayed just bylines.

Then, in the end of the month of June, 2014, Google removed all author photos from universal research, leaving behind bylines for the authorship results.

At that point of time, John Mueller stated that photos had gotten removed because Google had planned to integrate the user experience between mobile search and desktop, and also because, author photos didn’t work well with the restricted screens and bandwidth of mobile. He also mentioned that Google had not noticed any major difference in “click behavior” among search pages having or not having author photos.

What could be the possible reasons for ending the Authorship program?

Google has always kept shuffling its products or services, probably because of Google’s steadfast commitment toward testing. Apparently, Google goes on to test and evaluate each product and every innovation within every product. If there is anything that does not comply with Google’s goals, doesn’t bring sufficient user adoption, or doesn’t render notable user value, ultimately gets axed by Google.

John Mueller clearly claimed that the data collected and assessed from complete three years of the Google Authorship program convinced Google that displaying Authorship results in search was not bringing the company enough value in comparison to the resources that were being put for processing the data.

According to Mueller, there were mainly two specific areas that didn’t meet expectations:

Little value to searchers: While making the announcement about the elimination of author photos from global search in the month of June, 2014, John Mueller stated that Google was seeing significantly negligible difference in “click behavior” on the search result pages having Authorship snippets in comparison to the ones that didn’t have the snippets. Surprising enough, the claim rather came as a shocker to those who always believed that author snippets brought greater click-through rates.

Mueller also confirmed that Google’s data revealed that users were not getting that much value by means of Authorship snippets. While, he didn’t tell specifically what he meant by “value” here, nonetheless, we might contemplate that the total or overall user behavior on the search pages remained unaffected by the presence of author snippets. Probably, over the years, users had become used to seeing them and thus, the snippets lost their freshness.

Low adoption rates by webmasters and authors: When different sites endeavored to participate in authorship markup, they often did that incorrectly. Also, most of the non-tech-savvy site authors or owners found the markup and linking way too complex and thus, they remained unlikely in implementing it.

Due to such problems, Google began auto-attributing authorship in certain cases, where there was no markup or simply improper markup. But, Google’s attempt of auto-attribution led to numerous well-publicized cases of misattribution. Thus, Google’s hopes of being able to recognize the Web’s authors, connect the same with their content, and then, estimate their trust and authority levels as potential ranking factors were clearly in trouble, considering its dependency on the collaboration of non-Google people.

What’s the bottom line now?

Google has stated numerous times its genuine interest in grasping author authority over the past 3 years. Nonetheless, the same has been a really difficult thing to solve as well. The desire to get at the expected data is surely there, but the present approach simply has not worked. As we explained and understood above, this is one of the two main causes why this initiative is being forsaken.

Of course, the other problem that got outlined by John Mueller is equally notable. Including rich snippets, whether photos or bylines, were not providing value to end users in the search results either. So, going by this all, we have landed at the prime question of this post “is authorship gone like forever?”

Who knows! But it is worth mentioning that the concept is definitely a good one. It’s just that a few people are smarter when it comes to certain topics, and it’s been the present attempts at figuring out the approach that have failed, not actually the concept.

So, for now yes, Authorship is gone, it’s not there anymore. But, like we said it was a tremendous experiment and we even expect something better to happen in future for the Authorship project.

What do you think? Care to share?

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