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The Death of Google Authorship

For months we struggled to implement Authorship on client sites and for the longest time we couldn’t figure out why it had become so difficult to use. We finally got our answer last month as we learned that Google was going to stop displaying Authorship photos in search results.

In a second update last week, Google’s John Mueller announced that all Authorship information would be removed entirely. Apparently Google collected data that revealed Authorship was not useful to users and may have even distracted them from search results.

Mueller said, “We’ve gotten lots of useful feedback from all kinds of webmasters and users, and we’ve tweaked, updated and honed recognition and displaying of authorship information. Unfortunately, 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.”

Mueller also said that the removal of Authorship “Generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites.”

We find this hard to believe because ever since the launch of Authorship there have been numerous studies that praised Authorship for its ability to increase traffic. Now the debate over whether Authorship influenced rankings is another subject on its own and we’re not entirely sure, but the use of Authorship certainly increased traffic for a lot of site owners.

So why did Google encourage all of us to implement Authorship if it didn’t have a positive impact on searchers? Did Authorship suddenly not perform as well as it had in the past? Perhaps Authorship photos distracted users from Google’s advertisements and therefore hurt their revenue. We can speculate all we want, but the reality is that Authorship is dead and it’s time to move on.