Google has officially announced the drop of Google Authorship functionality from the search results and the Google Webmaster Tools.
In the last week of June 2014 Google removed Author Photos from the search results in order to reduce clutter in the search results (particularly important for mobile). This morning they finally said goodbye to Authorship.
The announcement was confirmed in an update on Google + by John Mueller, who has been involved with Google Authorship since the beginning, today he stated that it isn’t as useful for the users as they expected it to be.
The update has been made to improve user experience and won’t have any negative impact on website traffic, clicks or ads. He added that “Search users will still see Google+ posts from friends and pages when they’re relevant to the query — both in the main results, and on the right-hand side. Today’s authorship change doesn’t impact these social features.”
Google Authorship – Background
Google Authorship was first created in 2012 with the goal of allowing writers to claim their content, while search engines could then index content written by the same author. It helped establish credibility of the content for both authors and websites, and gave users an idea of who the author is before they clicked the link in the search results. The author image with a headshot and his Google plus circles count allowed users to recognise the writer of the article and judge how authoritative they are.
The Authorship markup implemented with author photos in the search results dramatically improved traffic for some websites. Users started recognising the authors associated with the content and noticed an increase in their CTR (click-through-rate).
The Google team keep experimenting with its features and products, and at times disable them if they are no longer valuable. According to Muller, Google Authorship simply wasn’t useful for users so they decided to stop showing authorship in search results.
For now, it’s safe to remove Authorship markup from websites as it’s not clear if it’ll be reincarnated in the future or not. If you are using WordPress, it’s simple to disable the Google Authorship Plugin with no effect on SEO as Google is no longer evaluating it.