Changes to the listings and how they affect you
Google recently made an announcement about the decision to remove author images from search results. The changes came into effect last week and, according to Google’s Senior Webmaster Trend Analysts John Mueller, there has been a lot of work in place to attempt to ‘clean up’ the visual design of search results across all platforms, with a particular focus on mobile platforms.
Mueller goes on to indicate that reports regarding click-through behaviour have suggested that search results which contain an image receive around the same click-through rates as those without. Contrary to what Google says, however, other data has been released that indicates that these images do have an impact on click-through rates (see this blog post for more info). We suppose that until Google is knocked off its pedestal and another search engine steps up to the plate, we’ll have to take its word for it!
Previously, search results would include the author’s image and Google Circle count. Moving forward both of these features of the results will be dropped, leaving only the author’s name on display and a byline for qualifying authors.
Google News results will work slightly differently, and will include an author image. But the image will be small and placed under the title, and a larger news photo will appear next to the search results.
Is it worth setting up Google Authorship now?
There were plenty of benefits of having Google Authorship before. If anything, having an image next to search results is a little like putting a face to a name – it ‘humanises’ online businesses and therefore creates a more personal online experience.
Is it worth setting up Google Authorship now? Well, yes, there are a few reasons why it’s recommended that you verify your authorship. Firstly, a byline is still included in the summary, which can improve your online visibility and create an online identity. Granted, it will not have the same visual impact as an image, but nevertheless it is still there.
Secondly, although Google is not including “Author Rank” signals in its search algorithms as of yet, there is nothing stopping it from incorporating these into the mix in the future. It may be a good idea to establish yourself as credible author now to help boost your future rankings if Google decide to go down this road in the future. We all know by now how fast paced Google’s algorithm changes are, so although there are no guarantees that Authorship will eventually have an impact on your SERPs, it’s not a completely ridiculous idea and it could happen.