Google authorship change announcement

Google Announces the End of Author Photos & Circle Count

The only thing gauranteed in the world of SEO is there are no guarantees.

Google is constantly tweaking and testing and updating, and the latest change comes as quite the shocker.

google's john muellerLast week Google’s John Mueller made the announcement that Google will no longer be displaying profile photos as part of authorship in search results.

What comes as the bigger news is the claim by Mueller that “the click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.” This seams counter to what you would expect, given that results with the Google authorship profile photo are more visible.

The downside of author photos for Google has become more apparent as the shift to mobile becomes more of a focus. Results including the profile photo take up more real estate and do not function as well in mobile.

Mueller mentioned in the announcement that this new design is rolling out to both desktop and mobile SERPs, and makes for “a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices.”

Here’s a glimpse of the old design for authorship…

old google authorship with image

and, here is the new format…

new google authorship without profile image

Notice that all you see in the new layout is a clickable author name. Gone is the profile photo and circle count.

This change will have no affect on what really matters in getting your site to rank, but what definitely does matter is the content you create and tie to your name through Google authorship. Google is slowly developing it’s author rank, which will definitely become more of a factor in the coming years.

I can’t help but wonder, if from the beginning, authorship with photo and circle count was purely an attempt to get more people to use Google plus.

The roll out and adoption of Google+ has certainly not be what they had hoped for; but, that debate can wait for another post. For now, we’re left to adapt to the new layout.

Photo credit: Jason McHuff, flickr creative commons.

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