Today at 8:51am (NZST), John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a Google+ post that after three years, Google Authorship has been dropped from Google Search and Webmaster Tools.
Google will stop showing Authorship results in Search and will not be tracking data from content using the “rel=author” markup. This markup is what connects content to an authors profile.
Google began supporting Authorship markup in June of 2011, and as with all new products, it was constantly monitored, tested and evaluated.
In the past eight months, there were two major reductions of rich snippets in Search. In December of last year Google reduced the amount of author photo snippets shown per query, and June of this year saw the removal of author photo snippets altogether from global search, leaving only bylines for searchers to see.
But the results in search were just not returning enough value compared to the resources it required to process such massive amounts of data. John Mueller told Mark Traphagen (Director of Stone Temple Consulting) that it essentially came down to two main things.
1. Low adoption rates by Webmasters
In short, it didn’t capture the market by storm. A lot of Webmasters found that the markup and linking that had to be implemented was too complex and technical, and most wouldn’t attempt it. Those who did grasp the concept and gave it a go, unfortunately often did so incorrectly.
2. Low value to searchers
It didn’t seem to have such a great value to searchers as originally predicted. The difference in click behaviour between sites that had markup implemented and sites that didn’t, was very little, if anything.
John noted in his Google+ post this morning that Google+ posts and author photos from friends and pages in the searchers network will still show in the main results if they are relevant to the query – but there is already some scepticism if this too will be on its way out in the near future.
We instead wonder if Google will be concentrating their efforts on the Google Knowledge Vault – one of the many latest and greatest things Google is introducing, set to supersede and be far more extensive than the Google Knowledge Graph. Watch this space.