In a Google+ post released at the end of August, Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller announced, “Authorship mark-up is no longer supported in Web search”. Whilst the search engine giant is still encouraging search engine marketing professionals to continue to use rich snippets and structured mark-up such as Schema.org to improve their search results.
Rich snippets (for those unsure) are the few lines of text that appear under every search result and are designed to give users a sense of what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query.
The authorship initiative started back in 2011 with the hope that content could be ‘scored’ more accurately partly based on the digital signature of the author. If the author has a back catalogue of trusted and well-read content then this would instantly give new content additional gravitas.
Authorship gained additional momentum with the advent of Google+, as it allowed authors to have a universal identity platform. Soon after, search listings enjoyed author photos to the side of listings that further indicated their importance. However, this was short lived and photos were soon removed leaving only a linked by-line.
As of the end of August 2014, the text by-line has been removed as well. Search users will still see Google+ posts from friends and pages when they’re relevant to the query, but general organic search will be impacted by this change.
Google indicated that they are continually testing their new products and this particular one didn’t do as well as expected. This could partly be due to low adoption rates by authors and webmasters, difficultly adding the code to websites or simply a lack in perceived value for searchers.
The authorship code can be left in but Google will not process this data in their search algorithm.
At Kingsland Linassi, we would look to remove the surplus code only if it impacts on the speed of the site. Otherwise keeping the code in would be preferred at it is still used in Google’s social features.