Is Google Authorship dead?

By Paul Morris

NOTE: This article owes Search Engine Watch , John Mueller and Search Engine Land for all the real work!

Google, as officially reported by John Mueller, has killed authorship from the SERPS and even stripped the info/functionality from WMT.

3 reasons to back away from Authorship:   

1. No normal person knows what it is or the benefit it provides

There is little aggregate benefit to searchers by having authorship on a search page (when looking at the SERPS in totality). Then specifically there is little difference in click behaviour on search result pages with/without Authorship snippets.

Note: This is a Google generalisation (+ supported by a Stone Temple Consulting study) and in some sectors webmasters have noticed higher click through rates as a result of author images in the SERPS.

2. Low influencer adoption

As a result of low usage by webmasters and authors (extremely low in certain sectors) there is little benefit in flogging a dead horse!

Also for your average author/webmaster the authorship integration isn’t obvious and was at times implemented incorrectly.

3. Opportunity cost of processing power

As a result of 1 + 2 (and Google’s auto attribution test of authorship being proven ineffective) Google then has to ask the question as to whether the processing power used in the effort of determining and ranking authorship is worth it. Google have clearly surmised its resources are better deployed elsewhere.

So just don’t bother then?!


Clearly the general public are not getting authorship, it’s making little/no overall benefit to their experience of Search and with authors + webmasters not using it/using it incorrectly it’s the right thing to park for now.

Google is moving down a structured mark-up e.g. schema route to bolster onsite and links to aid its algo hence the dwindling importance of authorship and increased focus by SEO’ers on mark-up + semantics.

However I recommend to people that they do not give up on G+ all together.

At present (and John Mueller states there are no plans to get rid of this) author photos continue to appear from those in your G+ network (circles + Gmail contacts) hence there is still some value in utilising authorship from a circle personalisation angle. Google+ posts therefore will still appear in the main results and on the right hand side for relevant queries when the author is in your network and thus an increase is SERPS present for those you are personally connected with.

As insinuated above; authorship might just be parked for now whilst Google work on something like auto detection of authors hence it could resurface at some point in another guise.

p.s I’m going to miss the ‘By Paul Morris‘ line at the top of my blog posts 😉

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