Are you taking advantage of Google Authorship to optimise your search results? If so, you’re in for a big change…

Google announced this week, via Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller that they will be removing author images and the Google+ circle count in desktop and mobile search results.

The reason behind the change

The aim is to create a more consistent look across devices and create a simpler, ‘less-cluttered’ design, particularly for mobile users, who continue to increase considerably month after month.

Mueller says:

“We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we’re simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count.”

Google News results have also been updated, as result of the changes. They now contain a smaller profiled image and the Google+ circle count has been removed from there too.

The changes will be rolled out both desktop and mobile results, over the next few days.

A little more about Google Authorship…

As SEO has developed over the past decade, a number of different metrics have been used to determine the value of an individual link.

One way that website owners have been proving the quality and credibility of their work is by providing Google Authorship. This enables authors to link original content published by them on a specific domain to their Google+ profile. Google authorship has allowed authors to improve rankings while branding themselves as a respected writer in their field, at the same time. As soon as a reader has clicked on an article in the SERPS, they automatically have the opportunity to read more content by the same author, through the author’s archive – a quick and easy way to build loyalty in readership. Moreover, Google Authorship has allowed writers who create great content to finally obtain the credit they deserve.

What does this change mean?

It’s inevitable that this change will have a strong impact on the SERPS. However, according to Google’s John Mueller, this change should have no effect on the click-through rate:

“Our experiments indicate that click-through behaviour on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.”

 This is the part of the announcement that marketers will find most interesting as the increased visibility and social proof than came with Google Authorship was proven to increase CTR.

Is it still worth having authorship?

Authorship will still remain imperative to Google as it tightens its grip on web publishers, but one of the major incentives of actually having authorship seems to have disappeared completely. Authorship in Google search results is one of the main reasons that many in the media are on Google+. The opportunity to put your name and face next to articles that you wrote is seen as a great way to get more traffic from search results.

So, will all of this mean a decrease in Google+ users? We will have to wait and see…

Only when the global roll-out is complete, will webmasters be able to ascertain whether there has been an effect on the click-through rate. One thing that is clear is that Google (as with all social platforms) will continue to change and adapt…

We’d love to hear what you think – drop us a line below.