Peter LaMotte is a senior vice president at LEVICK and chair of the firm’s Digital Communications Practice. He is also a contributing author to LEVICK Daily, where he routinely writes about social media marketing and online reputation management.
In August, Google announced the end of Google Authorship, a three-year effort aimed at boosting Google search engine results by including the author’s name and photograph alongside his or her article or blog post. This action followed close on the heels of an earlier announcement in June that Google was eliminating authors’ profile photos (while still showing a byline and including a link to the author’s Google+ profile).
Now, Google Authorship is gone altogether. Authorship results will no longer be displayed in Google Search, nor will the author’s photo or Google+ profile be associated with the article or post.
Why did Google make this decision? In its June announcement, Google stated that eliminating the profile photos in authorship results would provide “a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices.” The final decision to end Google Authorship came about as a result of tests showing that “the adoption rate for Authorship was much lower than Google anticipated, and often when authors attempted to include the necessary code, they did it incorrectly.”
Citing the results of internal testing, Google’s web trends analyst John Mueller has declared, “Removing Authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads.”
No need to panic, experts say
In general, the experts say, the best response to the death of Google Authorship is to stay the course. The first thing not to do is get rid of your company’s Google+ profile.
“Until we start to see otherwise, Google+ will still occupy at least some real estate on the search engine results pages,” notes Stephen Kenwright, senior search strategist for Branded3.
Promoting your brand’s knowledge and expertise is still a winning strategy, Kenwright adds. “Employing experts — and demonstrating that on your site with author pages, author bios and author photos — is still among the best ways to acquire links. If people care what you have to say you can do it for free. And if you’re not trying to push the fact that you’re an expert author, people won’t care what you’ve got to say.”
Focus on boosting brand awareness and credibility through the creation and distribution of quality content. As long as your brand maintains a reputation for providing value through relevant content and active social media engagement, there’s no need to radically change your marketing strategy.
Just like any other business, Google has the option to alter the rules it goes by. In the case of removing Google Authorship, however, keeping a level head is the best way to address these changes.
“The biggest thing I’d urge you to do is not panic,” says Ginny Soskey at HubSpot. “If you’re focusing the majority of your time on building your marketing for your audience, and then making smaller changes as social networks, search engines, and distribution platforms change their algorithms, you’ll weather the storm just fine.”