Is this the end of Google Authorship or are Google just throwing us a red herring?

Ian HancockStuff

Last week, John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a Google + post that Google will stop showing Authorship results in Google Search. He also said that they will no longer be tracking data from content using rel=author, the mark-up which allowed us to put a name and a face to our blog posts.

So Google are basically saying that Authorship will no longer be used as a ranking signal, but is this all that it seems?

Perhaps not, after all they never did explicitly state that Authorship would have an effect on rankings anyway. Instead they always said it was only ever experimental.

If it was only ever experimental, why did they go out of their way to encourage people to sign up to this programme?

The evolution of Authorship

Let’s look at the facts, over the past three years since Google Authorship has been in existence Google have added features such as the display of comments and circle counts, they’ve added authorship click and impression data to Webmaster Tools and they have utilised Authorship within Google News, quite an experiment if I do say so myself.

Little by little, they have been culling Authorship in certain areas however. Back in December they started to reduce the amount of author photo snippets shown per query. Then more recently in June, they removed all author photos from global search completely

Another failed Google product?

So is Google Authorship just another failed product from the labs, another Google Buzz, Google Wave or Realtime Search perhaps, or is it something else?

Google have said their “experiment” fell short in number of areas. These namely being low adoption rates by authors and webmasters and also by saying Authorship offers low value to searchers with John Mueller saying Google was seeing little difference in “click behaviour” on search results pages featuring Authorship snippets.

Are Google throwing us off the scent?

Of course nothing Google creates is designed to last forever, but maybe, just maybe Google are throwing us a red herring?

As far as we are concerned, and as far as many others in the industry are concerned, Authorship snippets do bring higher click-through rates. So what is John Mueller talking about?

Could it be that Google are just testing the water, or perhaps even rocking the boat and seeing who is standing up and paying attention?

Until we prove different, we just think Google are just trying to throw people off the rankings’ scent.

What do you think? Let us know below.