There’s an interesting piece of news that’s hit the internets over the last 24 hours – Google announced that they are going to be removing the ‘Author’ image from search results, as well as the circle count of the author.
I’ve just done a quick Google search and for me the authorship images are still active, and this is one of the results which I’ve just screengrabbed for a verified author:
After the change the search result will look something like this:
As you can see there’s a big change, but in the future the authors name will still lead the main link, and there is also a byline under the link with the author’s name and date.
At the moment people are questioning whether click thru’s from the SERPs will fall off the cliff, but as the change hasn’t happened across the board yet it’s going to be hard to tell what impact it’s having right now.
Personally I don’t think it’s going to have a huge change, but only by tracking and measuring will we know. So the important thing is to check your stats right now in Google Analytics for the websites you control, and then monitor them over time to see what change it has.
The other place you should looking at is the dedicated Author tracking in Google Webmaster Tools, where they will give you all your clicks across all websites where you are a verified author, and to do this just click on the Author Stats link under the Labs menu on the left hand side.
I wouldn’t go throwing the baby out with the bathwater tho, because Google Authorship can help you in more ways than simply having your headshot appear in the search results.
Sure, it’s nice to have an image there, but the reality is that Google are moving more and more towards trying to link content to real people, so if you’re enabling Authorship and linking your real Google account to your web properties, then over time your content is going to get treated as more reliable and maybe have an effect on rankings.
Of course, there are well over 200 different ranking factors that effect rankings, and each one of them may only have a marginal positive effect (like page speed and how many +1′s you have), but when it comes down to it you want to be ticking as many of these boxes as possible, so having authorship is still worthwhile in the overall scheme of things.
Have you seen any effects on your click thru’s from this change? Let us know in the comments.