The End of Google Authorship: The Pros and Cons

A three year implementation of Google Authorship came to an end In late August of this year. If you’re confused about what authorship was and why it mattered, the previous link is a great place to start.

Below, our team of SEOers have have shared their thoughts on the end of authorship, what it means for those who have invested in it over the past three years, and what webmasters should focus on as they move forward. Enjoy!

Matt Green Responds:

There really are no pros to this move, particularly for those who have invested heavily in getting Google Authorship (rel=author) set-up on both their sites and the sites that they contribute to. But, in all honestly, the most popular reason (and the most profitable reason) to implement authorship died in June when Google removed author images entirely from SERPs. It’s important to note that the death of Google Authorship does not mean the death of the concept of Author Rank (aka Agent Rank).

How you ask? Danny Sullivan explains here:
“…Google has other ways to determine who it believes to be the author of a story, if it wants. In particular, Google is likely to look for visible bylines that often appear on news stories. These existed before Google Authorship, and they aren’t going away”

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Casey Meraz Responds:

Although Authorship is dead author rank is still around. My opinion is that the change was mostly negative for website owners. Being rewarded with your picture in the SERPS was a great thing for potential recognition and really helped increase CTR. On the other hand taking it away does even the playing field. Now everyone is back to the same looking results (mostly minus review stars) so consumers may be paying more attention to title tags and what Google choose’s as your meta description.

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John Van Bockern Responds:

The removal of Google authorship is a great example of the need to NOT focus your efforts on a single optimization tactic. Sonia Simone articulated this perfectly over on copyblogger, and pointedly notes that Google owes you nothing. They have never promised rankings (or the continual display of your authorship picture in SERPs), and it is in no way a right to be prominently displayed on their SERPs (even if you are willing to pay them large sums of money). In that same sentiment, you owe Google nothing either. Focus on what is best for your customers/clients.

The big G can take any feature that they want and manipulate it, and if you are not willing to adjust, it’s no skin off their collective chin. Keep in mind that they are a company looking to make a profit, and they will be making adjustments accordingly… (my prediction of one of their next moves will be changing the colors of their review stars)

The fact is, Google does not pay for your product or service. Focus on building your brand, and if you are organizing your site in an intuitive manner and writing clearly without stealing or reposting content, the search engines (sans any technical issues) should be able to understand what your web pages are covering, people will interact with your site in a manner that sends positive signals back to search engines, and the search results will come.

More importantly, however, is the focus on how you can bring more value to the people visiting your site. Focus on the people who are paying for your product or service. Whether that be through the information that you are freely providing, or in the quality of your product or service.

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Frank Scharnell Responds:

As an enthusiast of Google+ I was sad to see authorship discontinued. However, I also understand the reasoning behind Google removing authorship pictures from the search results. As more and more websites and bloggers implemented the use of authorship solely for having a rich snippet, the search results were becoming increasingly saturated with these pictures.  Seeing pages that had nearly every result with some form of rich snippet can be distracting to the user and the purpose for the search. Though losing authorship definitely hurts author recognition and transparency, it returns the focus on the results instead of the tactics surrounding them. While I will miss seeing the faces of my peers from the search results, the biggest pro is the fact we are again focusing on what really matters about improving search results.

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