Finally the mad rush is over. Google seems to be in a good mood to kill its much popular brainchild - Google Authorship. Okay, technically it is not dead and simply we have no idea whether Google has already included the authorship signals to its main algo or not. But there is one thing that we can be sure of and that is Google has realized the truth that like all other metrics, some marketers have started abusing authorship and therefore, they need to do something to discourage people to abuse this platform.
A Little History of Google Authorship
At first Google seems to be trying hard to break the zing of 10 blue links and for that reason, it was trying to make the SERPs more interesting and visually appealing by incorporating image search, video and other stuff. Author is just an extension of that attempt. The purpose of the Authorship as claimed by the company is to "display of author information in search results" and to help searchers to connect with the author. Great initiative it was. There is not an iota of doubt about it.
The implementation of Authorship was very. Authors need to create an account in Google Plus and then link it from their website and vice versa. Sweet and Simple.
What Went Wrong Then?
If everybody was so happy with Authorship, why Google then scrap the idea of showing images of author and circle counts on the SERP? Well, let's discuss the official version of the story for a few second. Here is what John Muller said on Google Plus -
We've been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices.
So, basically they were trying to jazz up the boring look and feel of the SERP but later they figured it out that things have gone overboard and so they need to scale it down by axing Authorship. And it is not just the circle counts and author image, Google has done away with its Authorship Reporting in Webmaster Tools as already mentioned in a Social Media Today post.
The rumor is rife that Google has come down heavily on authorship as it has realized that Authorships is posing a direct threat to its ad revenue. Snippets with author images were grabbing the eyeballs and probably this is the reason why some webmasters reported that they saw a marked difference in the CTR as soon as author images are scooped out from the SERP.
Another less interesting reason could be that some authors were using meaningless, sometimes grossly offensive images and this could have forced Google to take action. The very concept is flawed though. It sounds like throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Does Authorship Still Matters
Of course it does. Google is using authorship to relate an article to that of its creator and that means, if you are an established writer and has good social presence, you should always opt for Google Authorship. Remember that Google has not removed Authorship; it has removed the images and a 'fancy' tool. So, authorship still holds some value if you are a great writer and have a large number of followers on the web.