Businesses that use content as part of their marketing got a boost when Google added their Google Authorship program. Under this program, a freelance marketing writer could claim authorship of a piece. This would help create trust with viewers and had the benefit of added visibility because of the author photos and Google + circle count that would appear in results.
In the past few months, however, many people were seeing a difference in search engine results that would include their Google Authorship work. First, many authors with lower readership and lower Google circle counts were finding that their rich text snippets were not showing up in their results. Last month, Google made a far more dramatic change: Google Authorship results no longer show the headshot and circle count.
Why Google Made Changes
According to Google’s John Muller, the changes are all about user experience. Google is expecting mobile search to top desktop by the end of the year. Instead of creating different pages for mobile and desktop, they are opting to create a single page that works on either desktop or mobile.
What It Means for Marketers
Many marketers are showing justified concern about the changes. According to Search Engine Land, eye tracking studies consistently show that a search result with a picture is more eye-catching than one without. In fact, a photo can be more attractive even when the result is further down the page.
Some marketers claim that Authorship was increasing their click through rates by 30% to 150%. It will be interesting to see whether those rates hold now that the visual draw of the photo is gone from search results.
Google Authorship Still Has Many Benefits
While marketers have lost the benefit of the photo, the byline is still there and visible. And it’s likely that Google will continue track authors’ results and reward those that audiences find most relevant. Plus, the trust factor with readers still exists and has value. Readers are more likely to share articles with a byline they recognize. Search is not the only game in town; social counts, too.
And if you write original, newsworthy content that is picked up by Google News, results for your content will still show a smaller version of your profile photo. This is a strong incentive to up your game with high quality, researched content from a quality freelance marketing writer. Marketers that invest in this sort of highly relevant and helpful content will reap the rewards.
When discussing this significant change to Authorship and search, Muller mentioned that Authorship has actually been tweaked may more times than we think — 890 updates were made in 2013. The moral of the story is that changes will continue to occur. But Google has never been shy about stating what, in the bigger picture, will get results: they want to make search as valuable as possible for the end users. Quality content wins in the end.
Lara S is a content writer and blogger. She’s written professionally since 1998 and specializes in creating reader-friendly posts for complex industries like healthcare, law, and insurance. On the weekends, you’re likely to find her out on her sailboat or ensconced in bed with a book.