RIP Google Authorship. It was nice knowing you

Google has just announced that it is discontinuing its Google Authorship program. The company justified the move by saying that it did not affect the amount of traffic to sites.

Google has just announced that it is discontinuing its Google Authorship program. The company justified the move by saying that it did not affect the amount of traffic to sites.

 

Google has announced that its search results will no longer show the names of authors.

Google Authorship, first launched in 2011, was meant to help writers generate a following for their work. The Authorship program, which required linking a website to a Google+ account, has been scaled down gradually since late last year.

When the feature was first released, it installed a profile picture of the author alongside articles that turn up on queries. However, last December, Google cut down the amount of photos that appear on search results. Some articles that would come up with every search query still showed a profile picture, however, most were reduced to just displaying bylines.

Google further scaled back the Authorship service last June, removing images and the author’s circle count on Google+ on search results to make queries consistent across mobile and desktop. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said at the time that their experiments showed that the user click-through behavior did not change in spite of the omission.

This time around, Mueller is making the same justification for killing off the service altogether.

“We’ve gotten lots of useful feedback from all kinds of webmasters and users, and we’ve tweaked, updated, and honed recognition and displaying of authorship information. Unfortunately, we’ve also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results,” Mueller said in Google+ post.

“If you’re curious — in our tests, removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads. We make these kinds of changes to improve our users’ experience.”

According to data from Search Engine Land, the Google Authorship program was not adopted widely. Even when a website attempted to make use of the tool, they did so incorrectly. Website administrators were supposedly driven away from the service because it was viewed as overly complex.

The report claims that accurate implementation of the rel=author markup needed for the service eluded website administrators. The study, which sampled 500 authors from 150 major media websites, found that 70 percent of writers made no attempt to link their authorship with the articles they were publishing.

Timothy Tracy