Google have announced that they are no longer using their Google Authorship markup in search results.
Google Authorship involves you hooking up articles you post to your Google Plus account, thereby theoretically giving the person reading the article a bit more information about who the author is.
Originally Google said they were going to use this to not only display results differently but also to perhaps influence the result order, I guess the idea being if you are identifiable and say write for various publications then your work might carry more weight.
The display part was rolled out and your little thumbnail avatar appeared next to your name as author in search results. From now on this will no longer happen.
A blog post on the subject reads “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. “
Someone asked if they would still be using the data behind the scenes but John Mueller from Google, who has been working on it, said: “we’re no longer using it for authorship, we treat it like any other markup on your pages. Leaving it is fine, it won’t cause problems.”
A few people have posted on forums that the real reason is that the inclusion of the thumbnails in the search results was causing a lower click through on the ads. I am sure that is possible but not sure that is the reason they’ve dropped it. Maybe a mixture of users not being that interested and a drop in ad engagement…I guess we will never know.
Also it might point the way to Google Plus being dropped as well in which case a lot of Google Plus buttons will be getting the chop.
I have to say that Google have a habit of doing these kind of experiments and then dropping them. I can understand why you would want to ID authors but it was always going to be easy to game a bit. I mean the first people to link up would have been SEO experts and spammers. If you had a central register where credentials had to be produced then maybe you could give some assurance someone was who they were reporting be but then you undermine the whole freedom of expression on the Web I guess.
What do you think?