Why Google Authorship is Still a Worthy Investment
When it comes to search engine optimization, Google Authorship has been a huge tool for writers hoping to increase their traffic. But in June 2014, Google made significant changes to Google Authorship that may seem like bad news. The company decided to remove author profile pics and Google+ circle counts from search results. Google authors have long relied on Authorship to boost their credibility and reap huge traffic gains. Without this information included in a search, the SEO juice is lost.
Google trend analyst John Mueller says the decision was made to “clean up” the visual design of searches and create a more uniform look. Skeptics claim Google is waging a war against SEO manipulation and just wants to keep people from playing the system. Others say Google is doing away with Authorship to boost their ad potential. Either way, the change has big SEO costs for writers. But there are benefits to using Google Authorship that go beyond SEO.
Google Authorship worked because the photos drew people’s eyes away from other results on the page. This was the main benefit of authorship tags. But Google hasn’t given up on the power of author credibility. In the June announcement, the company made a point to announce that author bylines will still appear in search results. This says a lot since bylines take up valuable pixel space that could be used for advertising. More importantly, a byline can still set you apart from the crowd and create a sense of trust. Even if your article is not the first on a page, a reader may recognize your name or choose your article over one without a credited writer.
Google Authorship still has immense networking power. Whenever you comment on a blog or publish a shared post, your profile still appears. This allows you to stand out as a niche authority and hold onto web connections. Not only that, but Google is still including author photos in personalized Google+ searches. People are more likely to value content from someone they recognize, and good writers will still be able to stand on their own merits.
Future SEO Benefits
Just before the change this year, Google’s Matt Cutts praised Google Authorship’s authority-building power. Google will continue to track data for Authorship users. While author authority has lost its rank, Google may change their mind in the future and reinstate SEO benefits. If this happens, it would pay to let Authorship keep track of your content. You will want Google to have a clear history of your growth and reputation. Also, just because Google is dropping the SEO markup of authorship, that doesn’t mean the information won’t be used by other companies or services later on.
While the changes to Google Authorship have temporarily removed SEO benefits of membership, I would think twice before abandoning Authorship altogether. At the end of the day, Google is a search engine powerhouse and will remain committed to its own products. Web writers would be savvy to hold onto the future SEO potential of any Google app.