Lessons Learned From Google Pulling The Plug On Authorship
Well, if you haven’t heard by now, Google has pulled the plug on yet another one of it’s multi-year experiments: Google Authorship. It’s kind of surprising to see put an axe to Google Authorship, but I’ve also seen stranger things such as when Google pulled the plug on Google Reader (which I so LOVED!).
But truthfully speaking, I should have known Google Authorship wasn’t going to stand the test of time when Google Author Stats went missing in Google Webmaster Tools.
Why I Think Google Authorship Was Created In The First Place
It’s almost as if Google creates products for the sole sake of gaining an extra step in the search market which they already own and are in full command. Personally, I think Google products that have been a flash in the pan were nothing more than loss leaders. Why do I think this?
Just like fast food chains use soft drinks to sale more food, Google uses products like Google Reader, Authorship and others to drive a deeper footprint into the search market.
Not only do I think that Google Authorship was nothing more than a hobby for Google, I also think they used it as an opportunity to boost usership of their fast-growing social network: Google+. At the time Authorship was launched, Facebook was the Goliath of social networks and is still somewhat today.
However, Google+ is catching on and growing leaps and bounds due to Google’s diligence to give preference to search rankings for those who used Authorship, Google+ and other Google products geared to boost search usage.
Did Authorship Really Make A Difference In Search?
When Google Authorship was cast, it sounded like a great idea to limit and eliminate the SEO tricksters and deceivers from manipulating search engines with pirated content.
One of my initial thoughts was that having Authorship would be the great divide of SEO. After all, I saw Authorship as a method to protect and boost content ranking by placing an image next to search results. I thought the image would for sure increase a website’s traffic substantially as opposed to search results without Authorship images.
But based Google’s John Mueller’s response below, Authorship did not increase search results and was seen as a distraction to search. Mine blown that this was the case for Authorship. Here’s a quote for John himself:
“I’ve been involved since we first started testing authorship markup and displaying it in search results. 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.”
What’s Next Now That Google Authorship Is Dead?
Truthfully, I’m not sure that I can answer this but here goes a shake of the ole’ Google Product eight ball. So here we go…
Since Authorship images have disappeared completely from search, I would bet that Google is going to push and promote the use of structured markup, schema.org, so that search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web. Again, this could be another play to dive deeper into search using another loss leader product.
However, Google could possibly resurrect Authorship at a later day just as they could do with Author Stats and Reader. I’m not sure of this notion, so don’t hold me to it or go holding your breath until it happens.
But as for what is truly next for Google, search and SEO, I would say it’s nothing new and we’re back at square one: write valuable, engaging, and unique content that solves a readers problem. Write content for readers first, and search engines last.
When content is written for readers, readers will reward to by sharing content with the masses via external websites and social media, creating and building organic links which boost search value and position across major search engines. Again, nothing new.