Google authorship

In a post by John Mueller (@JohnMu) a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, Google announced it was eliminating Google Authorship.

If you have any doubt about Authorship being eliminated in entirety, read the discussion in the comments to Mueller’s post.

Google Authorship enabled blog authors to connect the blog posts they published to their Google+ profile. It wasn’t tagging posts to a Google+ profile, per se, that was important for bloggers, it was the ability to tag content to an author to measure a blogger’s degree of influence.

For lawyers this was pretty slick. As Google tracked a lawyer’s influence in an area of law or industry by their blog posts, Google could then refine its search results to display on search results pages the most influential content for the party doing the search.

Both the author’s influence and the searcher’s social circle (who they trust, what they like) could then be taken into account in search results. Google presumably then displays results and content from the sources we’re most apt to trust.

For quite a while an author who set up Google Authorship on their blog would have their picture and a link to their Google+ profile displayed next to search results displaying their posts. Pictures heavily influenced click throughs.

Pictures were eliminated earlier this year and with today’s news, the Google+ profile link will be eliminated.

Per Mueller, search results will still include Google+ posts from friends and Google+ pages when they’re relevant to your query — both in the main results, and on the right-hand side. Today’s Authorship change doesn’t impact those social features. So no, Google+ is not gone yet.

Why the elimination of Authorship? Hard to say. No question it will fuel the discussion that Google+ is going to be phased out altogether.

From Mueller:

Unfortunately, we’ve… observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results.

The reason why it may not have been that useful is that not everyone set up Authorship on their blog or news site. Many that did set it up wrong.

As Eric Enge (@stonetemple) of Search Engine Land shared in a great post on the elimination of Authorship, even 70% of authors publishing on major web sites made no attempt to connect their authorship with the content they were writing.

The result is skewed search results. Posts and articles by those with greater “influence,” per Authorship, could arguably appear higher than more relevant and valuable results.

My gut tells me that Google has not been giving much weight to posts with author markup for some time. Otherwise the quality of results would have been diminished — and it’s the results which keeps us coming back.

LexBlog has advised lawyers on our LXBN network to use Authorship so as to take advantage of their growing influence in search results. No more.

For those blogging lawyers already using Authorship on their blog, there’s no harm in having it. There will just be no advantage going forward.

Despite no Authorship, quality blog posts written by lawyers in an engaging and authentic fashion will continue to do better and better on search. There are so many signals ranging from social sharing to links from other posts that Google can pick up to measure influence and relevance.

We’ll be okay.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Deepak Gupta