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The Implications for Bloggers Now That Google Authorship Has Ended

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Google Authorship has come to an end. It had the feature that loaded author photos alongside search results. If you are puzzled about your happy mug missing from the search pages, don’t be. Google decided to drop the profile picture and Google+ view counts for authors from search listings because there was no significant value from having these features. Since the end of August, all Google authorship users experienced this change.

Google Authorship was launched in 2011 with three objectives of: granting authors the opportunity to connect with their content on the web, enabling a process of author verification and rewarding authority content. From its inception, this well-intentioned program encountered adoption issues.

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Research by Google showed that Google Authorship wasn’t returning enough value relative to the effort and resources it took to process the data. Recent data from Stone Temple Consulting showed that more than 70 percent of the authors didn’t take ownership of their content via Google Authorship. The data also indicated no significant difference in “click behavior” with the implementation of Google Authorship.

Since Google Authorship didn’t take off as Google had expected, it forced the company to sever ties with rel=”author”. That photos take up valuable screen space on mobile search pages didn’t help matters. Early warning signs were there by December 2013, when Google scaled back authorship, ostensibly to ensure good quality and relevant results. 

While Google Authorship did not fulfill its potential, it cemented the idea of content authenticity that Google terms "Author Rank'' to reward authors based on their readership and online followers. Google supports structured markup so that search engines can better grasp the relationship between content on a page and the search terms entered. Google will also continue to display rich snippets along with search results. Although strong and well-received content has always been central to ranking high, Google Authorship was a nice add-on while it lasted.

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In a sense, Google Authorship hasn’t gone away. It’s still here. Search results will continue to show author names and link them to the author’s profile page. You will still need to verify authorship via email or connecting your content to your Google + profile. Even if your photo doesn’t show up, there are still valid reasons for taking advantage of Google Authorship. The system continues to remain useful for verifying content ownership and preventing plagiarism. More importantly, it allows you to be prepared for the future when Author Rank becomes a certified ranking factor.   

Google’s Author Rank is here to stay, though it still requires refinement. For bloggers, wisdom and foresight dictate that one should be on the right side of anything that has to do with Author Rank.

Related: How Google 'Author Markup' Can Help Protect Your Content and Build Your Brand