Rise and Fall of Google Authorship
Google authorship began with as an aspiring idea. Ranking pages based on the quality of the author who has written them. Pages would be ranked based on the author’s trustworthiness that leads to better recommendations and results. This idea sprung into fruition 11 years ago back in 2007 on the basis of using digital signatures to maintain records of reputed authors.
This idea kept growing until it reached the next milestone in 2011. This was when this plan was actually put into action. Google authorship integrated with webmasters and encouraged them to use rel=’author’ and rel=’me’ tags. This tags would help the algorithms keep check of the type of content written and who it was written by. Although almost finished, things would work out better if there was a personal author’s profile that could help users connect with them and their work on a more personalized level. This was when Google+ was launched.
Google authorship integrated with Google+ would be the best source for connecting authors with their content.
Although beginning with good tidings, things didn’t turn out as good as expected for Google. 70% of authors made no effort in connecting their content with the authorship program. Mostly because, people are used to doing things in one way, and no one needs another hoop to jump through. To add fuel to the fire, Google later learned that out of 150 pages sampled, 50 did not have author pages. 75% of which did not even give attributes to the author. Google+ profiles confusing authors that contained no links was another mess that needed to be fixed.
John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google states that there are two main reasons for the fall of Google authorship program.
Low Adoption Rates by Webmaster and Authors
As I mentioned earlier, no one wants another hoop to jump through. Although the authorship program might have started with good intentions, over time for web creators it is just another thing to do that requires more money and time to be put into. Integration of all the pre-existing data and link them with the authors and their Google+ account is a hassle that many thought wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Provided Low Value for Searchers
According to SearchEngineLand
John Mueller stated that Google was seeing little difference in “click behavior” on search result pages with Authorship snippets compared to those without. This came as a shock (accompanied in many cases with outright disbelief) to those who had always believed that author snippets brought higher click-through rates.
All that fuss about getting a better AuthorRanking turned out to be a wild goose chase. All that effort for not much benefit, and even negative effects in some cases. A lot of SEOs thought that it was not a rabbit hole they’d want to fall into and therefore the collapse of the Google Authorship program.
Noting all this Google dropped all their Authorship functionality by mid-2014. All the bugs that they worked through aren’t in vain as it would be good research for their next high-tier project, the Google Knowledge Vault. Authorship as we know it might be taken off the dusty shelf, but only soon to be replaced with something more useful and efficient in the future.