Google first announced its plan for authorship in 2011.
Verifying authorship through Google+ meant that you could have your photo displayed in the search results next to your listing along with your Google circle count. Authorship was a great way to establish credibility and increase brand awareness. If visitors repeatedly saw your name in the search results, they would recognise you as a leading authority in the industry.
But Google has decided to drop authorship from the search results. Going forward, only the author’s name will be visible in the snippet of text. The official Authorship in web-search page now simply states “Authorship markup is no longer supported in web search.”
Why is Google Removing Authorship?
Authorship is now completely removed in the search results meaning that results will not longer link to the author’s Google+ profile. The company notes several reasons for the change.
Here is a post from John Mueller regarding authorship:
In the announcement, Mueller notes that the change was aimed at cleaning up the design of the results and to create a “better mobile experience”. The change makes sense given Google’s recent emphasis on mobile. Having photos displayed would take up too much room especially on smaller screens.
Consistency was cited as another reason for the change. Some sites had verified authorship but others didn’t even when it was made available. Now with authorship removed, the search results have a more consistent look. While some marketers in the industry believed that having an image next to their listings improved click through rates, it is difficult to say if the amount of clicks for verified authors will be the same.
What Hasn’t Changed?
With the new changes you won’t see images displayed in the search results anymore but there are still many things that aren’t changing.
Authorship is still available: If you have a Google+ profile, you can still get your name to appear as a byline in the search results through authorship. The only difference is that your picture and circle count won’t appear anymore.
Names still appear: With authorship your name still appears in the search results. If you are well recognised in your industry, it could increase click through rates to your site. You will still need to verify authorship either through email vertification or link to your Google+ profile.
Rankings are the same: The announcement only affects images in the search results. Whether you verified authorship or not, your rankings will still remain the same.
What Does it All Mean?
Nothing in the grand scheme of things.
This isn’t a major update that completely affects every site. Authorship is still here and you can have your name appear in the byline of the search results. But you won’t be able to have your profile picture displayed anymore next to your site.
Google is constantly making changes to its ranking algorithm and layout. It’s entirely possible that authorship images could come back sometime in the future or another variation of it.