29 August 2014

Search Engine Land: “It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results”

Today John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a Google+ post that Google will stop showing authorship results in Google Search, and will no longer be tracking data from content using rel=author markup.


Mueller repeated in his conversation with Mark about today’s change that Google’s data showed users were not getting sufficient value from Authorship snippets. While he did not elaborate on what he meant by “value” we might speculate that this could mean that overall, in aggregate, user behavior on a search page did not seem to be affected by the presence of author snippets. Perhaps over time users had become used to seeing them and they lost their novelty.

Eric Enge

Another nail in the coffin for Google+. It’s reassuring that search relevance is still the top priority for – after all, it’s their biggest source of income. The removal of authorship based on the low value to searchers is a silent admission that social signals are not a solid indicator for quality (not on their own anyway, they can be just as easily gamed as other signals). But let’s not forget that the authorship markup was tied to Google+ profiles; its unsatisfactory performance could also imply that social activity from Google+ is simply to weak to reflect the quality of a page, despite Google’s best efforts to get everyone to use it.

I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see a similar article in 2-3 years about a more recent search ranking experiment. Low adoption among authors and incorrect implementation sound a lot like the challenges secure sites will face in the near future – and from what I’m standing, adding a couple a lines of markup to a blog is a lot easier than buying and maintaining security certificates!

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