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Three Good Reasons Why Google Authorship Still Matters

by Andy Crestodina  |  
September 12, 2014

It's a search engine. It's a social network. Google is a lot of things, and its parts are interconnected.

First, some background

The same month that the Google+ social network was launched, Google announced a new way to link writers to content they create: Google Authorship. Along with personalized search results, Authorship became a second direct connection between the social network and Google search results.

Until June 24, 2014, on its search results pages, Google showed author pictures (taken from the Google+ profile page), the name, and the number of G+ circles the author had been added to.

It looked like this:

Researchers found that when an author's picture appeared next to a search result, the clickthrough rate for the search result went up. The "rich snippet" for Authorship was increasing traffic. One study showed a lift of 35%. Authorship was suddenly a way to get more traffic from the same rankings.

On August 28, Google removed the author's byline as well, so that the same search result looked like this:

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Andy Crestodina is co-founder and strategic director of Orbit Media, an award-winning Web design company. With 16 years of Web marketing experience, Andy is a frequent speaker on topics including content strategy, analytics, social media, SEO, and email marketing.

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  • by Adam Lundquist Fri Sep 12, 2014 via web

    Hi Andy,
    Great article, I had pretty much given up on authorship myself. However, I think you do bring up a good point that Google is still interested in somehow linking articles to authors and using it for rankings. My question is, often when I guest blog they limit me to one link in the footer section. Since currently Google seems to not be using the author ranking I have been linking to twitter. Do you recommend linking out to Twitter for the now, or Google for the future?
    Again, great article :-)

  • by Chris Lang Fri Sep 12, 2014 via web

    There are a few things you missed here: First of all the Rich Snippets data testing tool no longer validates authorship. It does validate publishership.

    You can see my site validating it's publishership there. Also you it would probably be best to add something about publishership still being valid in its least; to validate pages and page profile icons are appearing in personalized search as well.

    Hate to nit pick on ya Andy, but you don't need the ?rel=author querystring. Only the rel=author HTML attribute.

    Good to see a positive note for authorship here though. Good article Andy.

  • by Andy Crestodina Fri Sep 12, 2014 via web

    Thanks for the input, Chris Lang. I'll update my notes about the Structured Data Markup Tool. That's good to know. But I still do recommend including the ?rel=author in the link. I know it should work without it, but I've had problems so I still recommend it.

    Authorship lives! There's more to life that rich snippets for logged out searchers, right?

  • by Mark Fri Sep 12, 2014 via web

    To carry on from Chris' point, it seems authorship details are not going to show up in the personal search results unless you have Publisher set up.

    Which seems to indicate that authorship is well and truly dead.

    So this article is confusing and misleading.

    I had authorship working for years successfully, now when I check the results and the Structured Data Testing tool there's nothing.

    I think it's too early to say what exactly Google is playing at with this.

    Until we get some definitive evidence, there's not much point wasting our time doing anything more with authorship.

  • by suzyspring Mon Sep 15, 2014 via web

    Thanks for the post. Pretty clear about it now.

  • by Jereme Fri Oct 10, 2014 via web

    I would Google Authorship is completely dead. It is a shame because the entire system made a lot of sense and provided a way to claim ownership to articles and other content. Even the Google Rich Snippet Testing Tool - no longer shows the rel="author" tag. The popular SEO WordPress plugin by Yoast has removed the tag as well. RIP Google Authorship!

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