Google has confirmed that search engine result pages or authorship results in Google search has been reduced on purpose. Matt Cutts, the head of the Webspam team of Google Inc, had promised a reduction in the Google Search results. The change has already taken place, as is evident from the fact that many snippets for search results that are authorship rich of content, have stopped appearing, in some cases, altogether.
In other cases, they are appearing with limitations like, No photograph of the author, only author byline (OR) they are appearing only in some sites but not in others.
What Google Authorship and SEO changes are happening?
A notable change in the number of SERPs has been observed by many, including Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land, who has cited the example of a Google search under “10 SEO copy-writing tips” and has pointed out that before the change, as many as 8 snippets appeared with author bylines and their snaps. However, after December 2013, the number of SERPs has reduced significantly to 6 snippets with author byline and snaps and 2 without author pictures. He has also pointed out that the new Moz Google Features Graph has shown a sharp decline in the number of Google Authorship snippets from the 20th of November 2011 to 18th of December in the same year.
Around 12th December, 2013, the decrease in the quantity has been the sharpest, while there was some leveling off after that, and again another nose dive is found on the 14th of December. Although the graph scales a mere 3% change in Authorship, it is indeed a major change, considering the fact that SERPs have retained their Authorship since a pretty long time without any alteration whatsoever.
The reduction in Google Authorship is not a bolt out of the blue. In fact, this is much in line with the announcement in the same direction by Matt Cutts in September 2013. According to his argument, a 15% (approximate) reduction in SERPs has greatly improved the quality of Google search results. However, it was not quite clear from Cutts’ words, what exactly had shown improvement – the quality of the SERPs in general or the quality of the results of Google Authorship. The question also remains as to what exactly is meant by “quality”.
Matt Cutts has been quite categorical in declaring that Google strongly wants to make sure that only the best quality authors find their snippets as SERPs. He wants to make sure that the users and searchers of Google Search get to see only such content which is not only trustworthy but also of quite high quality.
Here’s how this might affect you
It has been observed since December 2013 that Google Authorship has been classified under three heads.
- Full Authorship SERPs which come with byline, author’s photo as well as the number of Google+ circles
- Byline but no Photo SERPs are sometimes accompanied by the number of Google+ Circles, but strictly no picture of the author.
- No Profile: Disappearance of Authorship Rich SERPs for some authors.
- Increased social media engagement and networking required for SEO.
The second type of newly introduced Authorship snippets has never been found earlier. There used to be “headless” snippets only in case of such SERPs where other pages by the same author appeared on the same search.
Effects of Google Authorship Update
Although it is not yet crystal clear as to the criteria behind dropping authors in the publication of SERPs, yet, keen observation points to curbing of websites rather than authors in this respect. Research shows that trusted content by distinguished authors that are backed by shares and links, still remain the best choice for Google as SERP. It may be concluded that Google is conducting an assessment of each and every website and is not into analyzing much of the authors as yet.
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