Google Authorship: Dead Before Its Time

January 27, 2015
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Well that turned out to be a big disappointment, didn’t it?  I’ve written quite a few things about this. I’ve even dedicated a chapter to it in the Social Fabric University SEO course! Now, Google unceremoniously kills a pretty cool concept. John Mueller announced the death via Google+ here.

The idea of Google Authorship was promising. Some authors are very knowledgeable about certain topics and write in different places. Your authority as an author around certain keywords and topics should follow you. In a perfect world, if you became a popular author on a magazine site, you could start your own site, and immediately be ranked for the topics you’re influential about.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more going on under the surface at Google that contributed to its demise. Adoption by authors was low, as document at SearchEnglineLand. The Google+ integration, which was required, made the process confusing. Google+’s future is currently questionable, adding to the problem. The author photos, while a nice perk, were of questionable value, and didn’t translate well to the mobile experience, which is now a major concern for ALL web developers everywhere. All of these problems combined together made Authorship a very difficult nut to crack, for Google.

What should bloggers, authors, and publishers do now that authorship is no more? Focus on what we’ve always focused on: great content. It’s the content of a page itself that Google ultimately judges the worth of, in relation to a search. Mueller gives us some clues as to where to focus attention: While those pretty photos are gone, Google is committed to structured markup – additional information that Google uses to show rich snippets in search results. And that’s great for all publishers, everywhere, regardless of your commitment to Google+. Also, for the vain among us, who ONLY cared about those pretty pictures – your by-line should still show up thanks to structured markup.

A couple of closing points to remember: Your Google+ connections do still influence search.  So don’t abandon Google+, if you’ve devoted time to it. Authorship as a concept, while dead for now, is almost certainly not dead forever. So keep your Google+ Account alive and up to date, and you may be ahead of the curve when this all comes back around again.

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