Humans tend to trust other humans. Not all the time, of course, but when given a choice between a human-backed product and an anonymous product, most people will choose the former. This concept came in handy with Google authorship photos, which placed a profile picture of the author beside the search result. Seeing a photo of the human behind the website or article, searchers were more likely to trust that the article would be helpful, well-crafted, and reliable. Unfortunately, the era of Google authorship photos on search results pages has ended. Very recently, John Mueller (a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) announced that Google is saying adieu to authorship photos and circle counts. Scroll down to learn more about this major SERP change.
Google Authorship Photos Removed
WHAT IS GOOGLE AUTHORSHIP?
Google authorship allows you to connect the content you publish online with your Google+ profile. It’s easy to do and it gives your content authority. When readers are scrolling through search results, authorship distinguishes web content and helps readers find high-quality, trustworthy information.
WHAT DID MUELLER SAY?
Before we jump into the recent changes regarding Google authorship photos, take a look at the official announcement made by John Mueller:
“We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we’re simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count. (Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.)”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Previously, 22% of all searches displayed Google authorship photos. Now, that number has dropped down to 0%. Google currently displays only the author’s name. Photos and circle counts (i.e., how many Google+ circles you are in) have disappeared completely. However, small photos are still appearing beside some Google News snippets.
The change was implemented to make the visual design of SERPs sleeker and cleaner, especially on mobile screens (where photos can take up a lot of screen real estate). Mueller stated that Google’s testing has shown that “click-through behavior” is about the same as it was before, but the data for this has not been presented. Some people are arguing against the changes, claiming that Google’s true goal was to make their advertisements more visible.
These Google authorship changes do take away some of the advantages of using authorship, because (as we mentioned before) a listing with a photo next to it appears more trustworthy to readers. However, this doesn’t mean that Google authorship is now worthless. Setting up Google authorship should continue to provide an advantage when it comes to Google rank positioning—especially when you’re competing with results that aren’t using authorship at all. Plus, authorship helps you establish an online identity, which Google still values and promotes.
This is a big change, but we recommend that you stick with Google authorship regardless.
If your company is looking to establish an engaging and effective online presence, check out 417 Marketing. Whether you’re interested in web design, SEO, or PPC marketing, we can help. Click here to learn more about our web marketing services, and feel free to contact us online or at 417-889-0044.