In June 2011, Google announced that it would support authorship markup. It encouraged authors to mark their content with rel=”author” and rel=”me” tags to connect different pieces of their content to an author profile on Google Plus. In authorship, Google would show the Google Plus profile photo of the author on Google Searches. The data would also be used as a ranking factor.
All of that sounded great until the plan was implemented. Google has shown that nothing is created sacred or special. As a result of many changes, 3 years later, Google Authorship is officially pronounced dead. Here are some of the reasons why it failed:
- Google Authorship does not provide value to searchers. Google saw little difference in the behavior of users in clicks when Authorship snippets were shown compared to those search results without snippets. This came as a surprise as the expectation was that author snippets would bring higher click-through rates.
- Another reason why Google Authorship failed is that the authorship markup did not have enough authors participate or often did it incorrectly. Most non-tech-savvy authors felt putting in the code were too complex, thus, did not implement it overall. When Google realized this problem, it attempted to use auto-attribution of authors. It completely failed as it would often identify the wrong author of a piece of content. For example, Truman Capote who passed away many years ago, was shown as an author of a New York Times article.