Is This The End Of Google Authorship?
The concepts of Authorship and Author Rank have been hot topics in SEO circles for quite some time, but recent news coming out of Google suggests that the conversation may be shifting very soon. A recent Google support blog post, pointed out by Google’s lead Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, says that author rich snippets will be disappearing from search results. This does not mean that Authorship is six feet under, per se, but it does mean there will be significant changes to the way it is implemented.
Prior to this news breaking, Google Authorship and Author Rank were by far the biggest incentives for joining Google+, as establishing Authorship meant getting your picture and byline next to every blog or article you posted and then connected back to your profile. Writers with high-quality content got huge boosts from these rich snippets, and having a picture associated with that content gave them more of an identity, thus allowing them to generate more of a following online. How big of a boon was Authorship for a writer’s content? A 2012 study done by search marketing firm Catalyst shows that articles or blogs accompanied by a prominent profile picture can see increased click-through rates of as much as 150%.
The new snippets will still include a byline and publication date, but the pictures will be no more. Mueller claims that Google has done its homework and that there is no discernible difference in click or engagement behavior when comparing the new snippets to the old ones. Mueller also says that Google’s desire to maintain a clean design across all platforms played a role in the decision to oust the pictures. It should be noted, however, that while pictures will be absent from Authorship-linked articles in the main search results, they will still appear in the News Results filter.
There is some speculation that Google is trying to gradually phase out Google+ in some capacity, as Vic Gundotra, Google+’s biggest supporter has left the company. Also, no sessions were dedicated to Google+ at the company’s annual developer conference, Google I/O. This theory seems plausible, since as mentioned before, Authorship snippets were the driving force behind writers joining the network in the first place.
So what does this all mean to someone who isn’t an industry expert? Essentially this means that Google is going to be placing more and more emphasis on high-quality, compelling content. Google is going to be placing more and more emphasis on high-quality, compelling content. Companies need to put more focus into the headlines and meta-descriptions of their content if they want to maintain favorable positions in the search results. Authorship, even without the pictures, is an effective, yet low-cost, way to increase traffic to your sites, build your audience and generate more sales leads for your business.
Unfortunately, too many content writers were relying on the visual boost from Authorship pictures to make their articles seem more authoritative, but the fact of the matter is, there is no substitute for creativity. Writing – good writing – is a field where you can’t hide, phone it in, and still expect to get results. That’s why going with a custom website design firm, such as Detroit Website Design, can be the right course of action to pursue for your design and development needs. We’ve seen the results of doing the yeoman’s work and just pumping out quality content. We’ve even made it easy by coming up with a new “pay-as-you-go” payment plan that gives you a custom website (that you own), but you pay for it over a year, and it includes SEO and SEM too. So, consult with your website designer to see if there is more that can be done to pump up the quality of content on your site. Do you have a blog? If not, it’s probably time to start one. If you decide you need some help getting your project off the ground, Detroit Website Design is one site you might consider.