The cancellation of Google Authorship, a way of claiming ownership to your content by linking with a Google+ profile, has caught many Webmasters by surprise. The decision to no longer support Google Authorship and the rel=author markup was first announced by John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst. Before the announcement, I doubt Google would have expected the euphoria the news would generate. For a good while, many Bloggers and Webmasters have relied on Google Authorship as a mark of trust and authority of articles that appear in search result pages. However, the handwriting was already on the wall ever since Google announced the end of author photos in search.
Whether you agree or not, “Google gives and Google takes”. Although this time there have provided a reasonable explanation. Whilst authorship information might be relevant to Webmasters and publishers, the same cannot be said for actual search users. According to Mr Mueller, “unfortunately, we’ve also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped”. He also added that they had a tendency to “distract” users from search results (don’t ask me how). So then, what are the implications of the demise of Google Authorship?
Structured Markup: Google intends to put more emphasis on structured markup (such as schema.org). Therefore, users will continue to see rich snippets in search results.
Google Plus: The authorship change will have no effect on Google+ social features. Therefore, users will still see relevant Google+ posts from friends and pages (in the main results, and on the right-hand side).
In essence, there will be very minimal, if any, changes to search as a result of this announcement. However, Webmasters can be more proactive by adopting structured markup on their web pages thereby making it easier for all search engines to understand the content and context of pages thereby delivering better results to users.