The Authorship markup was first unveiled by Google in June 2011 and SEO Techs everywhere rejoiced. Its roots can be traced back to the company’s Agent Rank patent of 2007. Bill Slawski, an expert on Google’s patents, says that the Agent Rank patent is a type of system wherein multiple pieces of content are connected with a digital signature that represents one or more “agents” (authors).
Three years after Google Authorship was launched, the company decided to discontinue the project and SEO’s everywhere cried a little. The announcement came from John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools which he posted in Google+. According to Mueller, Google will stop displaying authorship in Google Search. Likewise, it will no longer track data from content with the rel=author markup in SERP rankings.
Google noticed that displaying the authorship information wasn’t as useful as the company had thought it would be. At some point, it can even distract from the results. For these reasons, Google decided to axe the Authorship project.
Don’t discount Author Rank as a result of this change and the reduced spinets.
According to Search Engine Land:
Author Rank Is Real — And Continues!
Schmidt was just speculating in his book, not describing anything that was actually happening at Google. From Google itself, there was talk several times last year of making use of Author Rank as a way to identify subject experts and somehow boost them in the search results:
- Google Authority Boost: Google’s Algorithm To Determine Which Site Is A Subject Authority, May 2013
- Google’s Matt Cutts: Someday, Perhaps Ranking Benefits From Using Rel=”Author”, June 2013
- Google Still Working On Promoting Subject-Specific Authorities In Search Results, December 2013
That was still all talk. The first real action came in March of this year. After Amit Singhal, the head of Google Search, said that Author Rank still wasn’t being used, the head of Google’s web spam team gave a caveat of where Author Rank was used: for the “In-depth articles” section, when it sometimes appears, of Google’s search results.
Google divulged that dropping Google Authorship shouldn’t have an impact on how the In-depth articles section works so strong writers’ SEO platforms should be intact. Google also explained that the dropping of Google Authorship won’t impact its other efforts to reward authors who perpetually make quality and engaging content.
Well, if you read the above portion, you’re likely scratching your heads. How is there to be author rank without authorship, when Google has also said that it’s ignoring authorship markup?
The answer is that Google has other ways to the author of a quality story, if it wants. In particular, Google is likely to look for visible “bylines” and citations that often appear on news stories and blog posts. These existed before Google Authorship, and they aren’t going away. One thing to keep in mind, you will want to ensure that all of your titled work is consolidated under the account name you will want tracked.