Google has just killed Google Authorship

This image demonstrates the added information in search results with Google Authorship.

A little over three years ago, Google began incorporating authorship into search results. This meant that the author of a certain article, blog entry or website could have their name, photo and Google+ profile directly embedded into Google's search results. This came with the added benefit of Google's announcement that such results will rank higher than results without authorship, similar to what Google announced it would do earlier this year with encrypted websites.

Initially, Google developed this as a novel method of encouraging their users to follow their favorite authors on the Google+ social network. However, with some irony, John Mueller announced on his Google+ profile that they have killed off the feature as the authorship turned out to not be very useful and was even distracting Google users. What was a standard requirement on the checklist of every SEO-guru has faded into the abyss overnight.

Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson discuss authorship markup in 2011.

Authorship was a fairly interesting way of making search results more personal. Unfortunately for Google, however, the application method and implementation of the authorship was tediously difficult. The requirements involved having a personal Google+ account, a headshot for a profile photo, linking back to the website via the Google+ account, verification of an email linked to the website, and it also involved embedding a certain script that specifies who the author is on every page. Even after doing all this, the prospective applicant would have had to wait an indefinite time-- sometimes even months-- in order for the authorship to start appearing in Google's searches.

Needless to say, it wasn't as popular as Google hoped it would be. Coupled with what appears to be Google losing faith in Google+ and Google's data that it was distracting users, it is unsurprising that this has been killed off. Just one year ago, Matt Cutts was discussing Google's prospective expansion of Google Authorship towards all aspects of the web, including businesses and even discussion forums.

One question that arises from all of this is is the question of what does Google see for the future of the Google+ social network? Forcing users onto the platform by integrating services like YouTube and Gmail have been largely unsuccesful, and removing things like authorship leaves many users with no significant incentive to begin using the social network at all. 

Source: Google+ | Image via SEO Review Tools

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Who cares what they do to their beta projects... ;-P

I for one are happily living without the Google for many years now.... ;-)

The final step here is to remove G+ integration into YouTube. Since they are driving interest away from G+ anyway, this is likely going to happen.

I didn't even noticed it was there. I usually followed the link to the article and noticed the author there. The removal of authorship will only make me click on links of authors i would otherwise avoid.

Google need to step back and look at what they're doing overall... requiring G+ for everything is ridiculous. But still, if they're collecting things that "distract users," how about every time I log in to Youtube and I have to choose which channel I want to use (the channel I actually *MADE* and have everything in, or the other two that have been somehow created for me under my real name.)

Actually, it was killed by Google+. If it would not have been a requirement to link it to Google+, a lot more people would have used it.

I remember a few months back i had to incorporate this into a project. I actually think it is a good idea and straight forward to do.

I do hope this is a sign that Google are slowly pulling back on Google+. I've not been a fan of how they're forcing people to use it. For all their services.

Seems that you were one of the lucky ones. I've worked with some clients where it was impossible to get it working. Everything was set up perfectly, every method of identity and ownership confirmation was done, and the webmaster tools showed it as valid. 18 months until it was killed off yesterday and it still never showed up in the search results.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Goggle didn't push this for everybody. Only when it search engine believed it to be useful.

I had it working on my site perfectly but when a friend wanted the feature implemented it just wouldn't work.

I quite liked the feature, but all good things come to an end.

We had the opposite problem, it took very little work to get it working initially, after about a month though, it suddenly started linking to someone else profile, I initially thought someone had changed the links by accident, but after looking into it, it was undoubtedly some sort of glitch with Google.

As with anything made by Google, it's impossible to talk to anyone to get it fixed.

Lingwo said,
I remember a few months back i had to incorporate this into a project. I actually think it is a good idea and straight forward to do.

I do hope this is a sign that Google are slowly pulling back on Google+. I've not been a fan of how they're forcing people to use it. For all their services.

I'm a pretty firm believer that you need to make the tools for people to use, and then let them find their own way to it - not force it down their throats. It seems stuff like Google+ and more recently the changes to FaceBook (with the Messenger app) and then FourSquare / Swarm has been basically forcing changes on people that they didn't ask for. I'm pretty glad Google are taking this step and backtracking on G+ personally.