The End of Authorship Three years of experimenting has finally brought authorship to this: a redundant waste of time. For many, the much-hyped benefits of authorship were chief among the reasons for joining Google+. For some, there weren?t any other reasons. Yet for all their promises of better ranking and higher clickthrough rates, the search engine giant has decided ?it isn?t as useful? as they?d hoped, and ?can even distract from those results?. What they don?t tell us is, what were they hoping for? How have they determined that it isn?t useful and what use are they judging it by? I?d like to think that a system such as this, especially one implemented by a search engine, wasn?t in place solely to increase CTR. Surely, the ability to find articles by authors they trust and enjoy reading is helpful to users, and the writers themselves. And who exactly are these people that are being distracted by an image and a bit of extra information? What kind of person allows their search to be derailed by an author name? Apparently, they?re the common denominator. As a result, authorship is being retired, and content writers are being banished back to anonymity. A Failed Experiment? Google has admitted a number of failings along the way and other users have been keen to point out any they missed. Below are a number of good excuses for the termination of this initiative. Limited adoption - The initiative was severely hampered by the necessity to use Google+, a platform not quickly taken to in itself. Poor execution - Google may have phrased this a little differently, but ultimately authorship was hard to understand and difficult to implement. Of those who did attempt the markup, a large percentage made mistakes. Lack of information - Google, as is often the case, did little to promote authorship, relying instead on organic dissemination which is uneven at best. Webmasters were slow to learn of it and users were unaware of the reasons behind the changes they were seeing. Minimal effect on click-through - Having the only result with a picture may well have made your site look more trustworthy, but in areas where authorship really took off (such as Law and Real Estate) a results page full of unfamiliar faces isn?t going to make a difference. Mobile Search - The rise in use of mobile searches may also have attributed, with less space to spare on-screen for profile pics and circle numbers. Fake profiles - The decision to force Youtube subscribers to be on Google+ has resulted in numerous fake or unmaintained profiles that make the whole system look less trustworthy. Wasted Potential Nevertheless, despite all its flaws, some had looked to authorship to be the new metric in Google?s ranking algorithm. While, unnatural links have been used to falsely infer authority, this system had the potential to be a much more accurate indicator of trustworthy content. Instead, it has become a waste of time for anyone working within that field of optimisation. We?re seeing lots of reports of especially irritated people who have been implementing authorship markup for their clients, or people who have struggled with the process and now they have nothing. The good news is that the markup won?t negatively affect your rankings if you decide to keep it. There also haven?t been any changes to publisher markup? yet. However, some users are worried that this means duplicate content is a problem again, and others feel that Google+ as a whole no longer holds value to SEO at all. In fact, some have voice the opinion that it was all primarily a scheme to get people involved with the platform. It doesn?t help when John Mueller casually states, ?On a personal note, it's been fun and interesting travelling the road of authorship with all of you? as if we?ve all been on a leisurely trip through the countryside and we?ve all had a good time. Some of us haven?t. Some of us put a lot of work into something that turned out to be futile. https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JohnMueller/posts/HZf3KDP1Dm8 For some webmasters, continuing to use authorship may be helpful for users, but it won?t boost rankings on Google search pages. Many users will be quitting Google+ altogether, understandably feeling manipulated. Will you be ditching Google+? Of course, any experienced SEOs should have learned long ago that you cannot rely on Google. The search engine makes changes based on what will make their results most relevant to their users, not what makes webmasters the most money. It?s not even as if we didn?t see it coming. The decline of authorship was slow and obvious. The loss of the picture was a dark omen, as was the constant reshuffling of the rich snippet - whether it showed circle number or comments or ?view more by this author?. Authorship never quite ran smooth. The lesson to be learned here is that relying too heavily on Google guidelines isn?t always the best route to Google dominance. The best way to boost your rankings is to have quality content, quality products or services and to have a varied marketing strategy that doesn?t hinge upon Google. Read more about these around BHW. http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/ Needless to say, Google has to be considered, but it is easy to forget that search engines rely on our content. The website should come first, and that should dictate what factors engines consider in their algorithms to provide relevant results. It shouldn?t be the other way around. What?s Next? It has to be expected that something will replace authorship. Certainly something needs to be added to Google+ before it becomes Google-, as critics question its relevance without this system. Do we go back to Agent Ranking? Will a similar but far improved system fill the space? Or will there be an entirely new system to shake up the SEO world? One thing?s for certain: a lot of people will be spending a lot of time forgetting - and erasing - everything to do with Google+ from their online presence. So, are you happy to hear of authorship?s timely demise or are you mourning the loss of useful markup? Share your perspective in the comments below.