Recently Google announced a change to remove authorship photos from Google organic search results to simplify and improve the user experience for users across mobile and desktop searches.
The announcement has led to a lot of online discussion in SEO circles with many questioning the reasoning and impact of the change.
Larry Kim’s article, The Real Reason Google Plus Authorship Photos Are Gone, certainly puts another spin on Google’s motivation.
There has also been a lot of rumours that Google is going to significantly scale back Google Plus, ever since Vic Gundotra left Google in April and this recent change to remove authorship photos seems to be in line with these rumours.
From our experience, adding authorship photos is something that we have used effectively on websites and have seen a positive impact on click through rates to pages where it is added. We believe the change will have a significant impact on these pages.
For those who don’t know what authorship photos are, they are the small profile photo of the author of a web page that appeared in the search results. The image below is an example Google search result with an authorship photo.
One of the ongoing challenges of SEO is that the goal posts are always moving. Proven techniques and strategies to help websites and content index appropriately and rank effectively can often be significantly impacted or sometimes completely shattered by search engine algorithm updates or by smaller updates like the recent announcement this month.
So the question is….with the recent changes and the ongoing uncertainty around Google Plus, is Google Plus authorship still an important component to SEO?
Currently adding Google Plus authorship to your website still adds rich snippets to your website in search results. For organic search results, the authors name is still returned (see example below) and for personalised searches, authorship photos still seem to be appearing.
The fact that the broader SEO practise of adding structured data markup to your website is still a valuable SEO technique and the authors name is still being added to organic searches, continuing to setup authorship should still provide a positive impact to your search listings.
We will still be continuing to add authorship to relevant websites pages whilst also being mindful that the goal posts could again move at any time at which point we will again have to review our SEO techniques and strategies.