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Say Goodbye to Author Photos (And Your Little Dog Too)

Remember all those hours you spent adding Google Authorship to your posts so you could get your picture in the search results? Well, the latest announcement from Google’s John Mueller will have a big impact on those efforts.

Adding Google Authorship to a website or blog has become a best practice in the world of online marketing. With a fair amount of research suggesting improved click-through rates (and search rankings) for pages properly tagged with Google Authorship, it’s easy to see why so many writers and marketers have been going this route. The big question now is whether or not this will all change.

We’ve become accustomed to seeing this in the search results:

Google authorship photoSeriously, who wouldn't click on a link that features this adorable image of Zach and a dog?

The theory behind the improved click-through rates is related to a few factors. Google Authorship can give a post more credibility and authority. Putting a face to a post also adds a more human element, making a user more likely to connect to it. Most obviously though, the profile photo makes the link stand out in the search result. As you can imagine, people are more likely to click on something that stands out. And when the click-through rate goes up, so do the search rankings.

So what exactly are the new Google Authorship changes? According to Mueller’s latest post on his Google+ page, the profile photo and circle counts are both being removed.

As with all things Google, this is unrolling over time, so you’ll still see profile photos and circle counts in the search results for now. Soon though, you’ll see Authorship posts reduced to this:

new authorship imageWhere did Zach and his dog go? My motivation to click the link has gone down. Maybe I'll just click an ad instead.

Google’s experiments “indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.” Whether or not that’s the case in the real world remains to be seen. Either way, there are likely plenty of people (and dogs) who will be disappointed by the loss of their image from the search results.

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