Google announces the cancellation of authorship photos in search results

In June 2014, Google announced it would no longer be displaying author photographs.

These photographs were previously displayed alongside search results of content from Google+ authors. Anybody with a Google+ account that was producing content was able to activate the profile image and many expected, although this was never proven, that by putting a face to the name your click through rates from the search results would increase.

Why Google has dropped the photographs is still unclear – however in a statement released by John Meuller, the reasoning behind this change is design based. They want to streamline the search results on mobile devices. As we already know, the number of people using mobile devices is continually growing.

According to digitalBuzz, by the end of 2013, 50% of people used a mobile phone as their primary source of internet browsing, and a further 72% of tablet users make a purchase once a week from their mobile tablet device. These numbers are only set to go up over the next few years, so it is easy to see from this why Google is turning more of its focus to mobile devices.

So is it worth setting up Google authorship?

The definitive answer is Yes! Implementing authorship across your website increases the perceived value of your content and just your name alone without a photo adds credibility to your listing and will increase click through rates from search results. Your authorship name without a picture will still appear in organic search results, which is why it is still vital to activate your account and link back to your website. Google isn’t changing any guidelines on how to establish your Google+ authorship, you simply verify through an email, and link your content to your Google+ account.

We know that Google is continuing to work on promoting trusted authors in search results. This authorship is one of the better ways for Google to establish “identity” on the web and ultimately, by establishing identities, there are fewer places for companies using ‘black hat’ SEO and spam to hide, which makes the Web a better place for everybody! With the continued migration of web browsing to mobile devices, we can probably expect more ‘streamlining’ of the design of search results, across a host of online institutions and we are ready for it!

In summary

Google and other search engines continue to offer new opportunities to gain “screen real-estate” on the search results pages, which will lead to more clicks through to your website and more sales. In this situation Google may have reduced the visibility for results with authorship photos, but the knock-on effect will be more screen space for other search features.

We predict this extra space could make room for any of the following within Google Universal search (google.co.uk)

  • A larger Maps block (5pack, 7pack or larger)
  • More prominent Google+ page linking
  • A doubled up listing for any one of the organic results in the top four positions.
  • Sub-site quick links for the top listed organic result
  • Space for Youtube video thumbnails
  • Social media links / thumbnails
  • More photos / visual results
  • Extra space for PPC adverts (Pay per click)

Regardless of which direction it goes, there is no better time to be looking at optimising your website, social media and SEO campaign to take advantage of a variety of these features, ahead of your competitors.

As a smaller business, advantages lie in your agility to adopt new avenues for generating revenue. At the same time, you need to mitigate risks and efficiently implement these features and opportunities, accepting that some will become defunct, but others will offer you key competitive advantages in future.

Unless you, or any of your team are familiar with all these Google features and search engine setups, you could spend hours searching for the information, loopholes and techniques for correcting various issues. Instead, why not consider getting help from specialists? But remember, when it comes to SEO, you need to work with those who come recommended and you can work alongside on campaigns spanning several months!

If you’re thinking you could do with an SEO agency to assist with implementing any of the above, why not contact us for a quick chat, or even arrange meeting in person over a hot brew, to discuss how Alloy Marketing can help your business.

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