Major Changes Coming to Google Authorship
Google Authorship has become an invaluable tool for content marketers and SEOs wanting to claim their published content online and link it all together under the same author. When publishers claim authorship of their own content, the webpages in question appear in the search engine results page accompanied by the individual's Google+ profile picture and their circle count on the popular social network. Many marketers claimed that the additional information has helped their listings to stand out more among the search results pages, not to mention that Web users could easily find additional content by the same author simply by clicking on a link. However, things are about to change as Google's John Mueller stated in a post on his Google+ page on June 25.
The announcement that Google is making major changes to the way in which claimed content is to appear in the search engines will undoubtedly come as quite a shock to those who have come to partly rely on Google Authorship markup in their SEO and content marketing efforts. The most significant changes are that the author's Google+ profile image and circle count will no longer be displayed in the search engine results pages (SERPS). However, Mueller has also stated that click-through rates should generally not be affected, and in fact may improve in certain cases. In the new format, only the author's name is displayed accompanying the search results which Google claims makes for a less cluttered and more effective design.
The changes will also effect Google News, although not to quite the same extent. Google News will still display a small profile image, although the Google+ circle count will no longer appear. Both mobile and desktop searches are affected, and the changes are expected to come gradually, region-by-region.
How Will the Changes Affect You?
Many content marketers have come to consider Google Authorship to be an essential tool in their arsenal, and a lot of individual writers will undoubtedly find the changes quite discouraging as well. While Google's official reasons so far have stated that the changes are meant to de-clutter the SERPs, others suspect that they are being made to prevent abuse of the system or discourage people from paying too much attention to organic search results.
What matters most is how these changes will affect content marketers and their search engine optimization strategies. The social connection to Google+ which authorship provides is particularly important in relationship-orientated businesses, and the initial result the changes will likely mean reduced click-through rates. On the other hand, having a cleaner-looking SERPs will also mean that others no longer have to rely on Google Authorship in order to stand out in the search results.