Google Authorship Scheduled to Wind Down

29 Aug 2014

On August 28, 2014 John Mueller from Google Webmaster Tools announced that Google will stop showing Authorship results in Google Search and that they will no longer be tracking data from content that is using the Rel=Author Markup.

This ends a project that has been present since 2007, when Google filed for its Agent Rank patent.

Understanding the authority that certain authors bring to the table has always been a concern of Google’s Eric Schmidt:

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance. Eric Schmidt in The New Digital Age”

Why did they do this? (official answer)
In Dec 2013 Google reduce the amount of author photo snippets shown in search result, by the end of June 2014 Google removed all Author photos from Global search – now only leaving bylines for qualified authorship results. This was all done in the name of creating a cohesive desktop and mobile user experience.

Major Reasons for closing the book on this technology:

  • Low Adoption Rates by Authors and webmasters – a study of the 50 most influential social media marketers by Forbes in 2012 found that only 30% were using markup language.
  • Low Value to Searchers – John Mueller noted in June that Google user data showed that there was not much of a different in “click behavior” on the search pages with Authorship snippets.

What’s next?
Google Authorship is probably not going to disappear, but rather it will become part of a larger ecosystem of ranking factors that will be wrapped into the Google Knowledge Vault Project.

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