Back in June 2014 Google removed Authorship photos from the organic search results. In an effort to improve the mobile experience, Google dropped the photos but kept the Authorship snippets – author name and date.
Now, Google has removed all Authorship elements from the search results pages and will no longer track rel=author data in Webmaster Tools.
The introduction of Google Authorship three years ago was a major event in the search engine optimization industry. Although many experts thought Authorship was here to stay as an SEO game-changer, it appears to have become another failed Google experiment.
In an article by Search Engine Land, John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools cited two major reasons for the disappearance of Google Authorship:
- Low adoption rates by authors and webmasters
- Low value to searchers
After many experiments testing the number of Authorship snippets and photos shown in the search results, Google concluded that Authorship information had little affect on searcher behavior and click-through rates. This, coupled with the low adoption rate, made the decision an easy one for Google.
The Search Engine Land article mentioned above contains more information on the demise of Google Authorship, including a study showing the overall lack of adoption and high amount of improper Authorship implementation.
The SEO landscape is ever changing, and although Authorship in its current form has failed, don’t be surprised to see another effort by Google to attribute authorship to online content.
On that note, if you’ve spent time setting up a Google+ profile and implementing Authorship markup on your website, do not delete your efforts! You never know what changes Google has in store.