Google Removes Authorship Images From Search Results

Jun 26, 2014 • 8:57 am | comments (49) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google authorityYesterday, I broke the news at Search Engine Land that Google has decided to drop the images and circle counts from the authorship snippets in the Google search results.

Google's John Mueller posted this on Google+ and is taking the brunt of the hit on this announcement. He wrote:

We've been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we're simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count. (Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.)

Yes, he actually wrote, "our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one." There are plenty of studies and even Google early on claiming otherwise, including examples from webmasters. But whatever, why would Google lie to us about that?

Do you think this:


Wouldn't get more clicks than this?


Really, Google?

Anyway, at least the news results do still contain an image, a smaller image:


I told Google, they really need to update the Structured Data Testing Tool, because it still shows the authorship image in the preview:

google-structured-data-tool-author image

Now, this isn't 100% live yet, it is rolling out over the next few days. So you still can benefit from it.

Why is Google removing it? Well, it is less cluttered. Truth is, I think Google can't handle the spam issue even after rich snippet reductions. Remember when Google dropped authorship for 75 minutes? I guess that was a real test?

As you can imagine, publishers are not happy. There are tons of comments at Search Engine Land and complaints on Google+ and WebmasterWorld. Many in fact are considering dropping it completely now from their markup. But would that be wise? There are signs it may be used in rankings in the future and is currently used for in depth articles.

Forum discussion Google+ and WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Bing: How We Pick Your Title Tag



06/26/2014 01:07 pm

What ever the reason, this is something we did not expect at all from Google. I am not sure how they are saying that authorship did not have any positive impacts on CTR. I guess it can be a temporary testing phase and hope authorship will be enabled once again in few days or weeks.

the alive network

06/26/2014 01:09 pm

Good since people were selling authorship for the photo that increased the CTR! We all know why they are really dropping it!


06/26/2014 01:48 pm

I can believe that click-thru rates are similar. Doesnt say '....are similar for those with the image'. So I have no problem in seeing that people would still click on search results at about the same rate as before.

Durant Imboden

06/26/2014 02:30 pm

Authorship hasn't gone away. Photos have gone away. Look carefully, and you'll still see author bylines tucked into the SERPs.

Michael Martinez

06/26/2014 02:39 pm

"I am not sure how they are saying that authorship did not have any positive impacts on CTR." They didn't say that. They're just changing how Authorship is noted in the SERPs.


06/26/2014 03:24 pm

Google saw my ugly mug and decided it was in the best interest of humanity to drop the pictures! LOL


06/26/2014 03:37 pm

Its because your face is really hard to look at.

Yo Mamma

06/26/2014 03:52 pm

I still see authorship images in search results. Not many, but a few. Pretty pictures of embarrassing faces still show

durant jr

06/26/2014 03:55 pm

It's a experiment for sure, a experiment to collect more data lol

Yo Mamma

06/26/2014 04:00 pm

Its just one of many huge FAILS by G$$gle. To be expected - Next!


06/26/2014 04:09 pm

This is BULLSHIT! I am so tired of Google creating tools for us to use only to take them away. I am so sick & tired of GOOGLE!!!!!!!!!

Jeremy Myers

06/26/2014 04:11 pm

It's a sign of them getting ready to drop Google+


06/26/2014 04:32 pm

For what it's worth: The images meant nothing to my searching and clicking habits unless I knew who the author was. If I had a search question and saw Barry's face, I would click on it as my first choice as my experience with him and his site indicated that I would find the answer I was looking for. So in one sense I can see why Google is saying this...but my personal experience tells me that the images were great for brand building. I look up something in regards to something I rarely or never concern myself with: images mean nothing. I look up something in a niche where I have favored sources (and where I do a lot more searching): The image is a magnet. All things considered, this is a poor choice by Google.


06/26/2014 04:37 pm

Great Decision. Go ahead. Remove Organic result in SERP. We will be happily quite SEO as Career.


06/26/2014 04:45 pm

In my serp they have also remove the local maps listings as well. We are back to 10 blue links. Google is becoming more & more retarded everyday.


06/26/2014 04:47 pm

Wake up people! As Moz Rand said, most likely the photos were increasing CTR for organic results and negatively impacted CTR on ADS. It's about money, money, money. Their motto is 'Don't be Evil' not 'Don't be Greedy'.

Jeff Ostroff

06/26/2014 04:49 pm

Agreed, and think of all the frustration many people had getting their author photos to show up in the first place, and it would work in G+ testing tool but no in the SERPS. Now that everyone finally has their Authorship Image working, they yank the carpet out from unde rall of us.


06/26/2014 05:23 pm

There motto should be "Not obligated to do good."

Sean Murray

06/26/2014 06:25 pm

I gotta be honest. The only reason I put in countless hours into Google+ was to boost my Google+ circle numbers and maintain the big headshot snippet in search. No one I know in real life ever adopted Google+. I guess I can cancel my account now.


06/26/2014 06:59 pm

OK, that's it. I'm changing my authorship name to "click here".

Durante Spamboden

06/26/2014 07:36 pm

It's spammers fault, they spammed spam spasm, everywhere I look I see spam except within!

Nick Ker

06/26/2014 08:49 pm

Or how about something even more aggressive like "Google Recommended"?


06/26/2014 08:56 pm

I'm curious, what if we started a campaign where everyone removes the Authorship link? What would Google do then? After all this was just one big link scheme - oh wait, Google did it so it must be ok. Seriously, think about it. Let's all remove our Authorship and then let's all move to Bing Ads! No but really, lets band together to take a bite out of Google's market share. It can be done folks.

Alexander Hemedinger

06/26/2014 09:01 pm

So true!


06/26/2014 09:13 pm

I like this approach, SERPs should be about content, not about who looks pretty.

Durant Imboden

06/26/2014 10:45 pm

A month from now, will searchers even remember author photos?

I used to like Google.

06/27/2014 12:12 am

This just in Google is about to penalize anyone using Schema markups.

Durant Imboden

06/27/2014 01:34 am

We have a G+ "Follow" button on most of our pages, and quite a few people use it. (More than I would have guessed when I put it there.)

Internet Man

06/27/2014 04:01 am

No Big G hater here they make me money, although here it comes "but the reason they did not get rid of the STARS is that allot of those websites ADVERTISE" And this is true for the most, authors don't advertise, but they do probably have websites which already have ADSENSEEEEEEEE Shall I take a bow?


06/27/2014 05:19 am

So basically, Google author pics are distracting people from clicking ads. Lower clickthrough rates to results with google author pics = increased clickthrough rates to ads, making Google more money.


06/27/2014 06:43 am

who is a real expert?


06/27/2014 06:51 am

is this why u used such a bright red photo? to grab more attention on the serps?


06/27/2014 07:03 am

But Damn it ! All the big blogs mentioned this increase the click through rate, and now Google comes out saying that this did not increase the click through . I mean what the hell is happening ?

F1 Steve

06/27/2014 09:28 am

Most people see red when they see Durants posts anyway!


06/27/2014 09:57 am

@mattcutts @rustybrick As Google just remove multiple listing of single website then why #namechep multiple result come for query "Comodo Wildcard SSL Certificate" is just because Google have to rules once for removing small business sites and second one is for big brand.. in which just giving more and more benefits to big brand like Namecheap ?


06/27/2014 10:47 am

whats the tool u use to see link data like that?


06/27/2014 10:48 am only


06/27/2014 11:18 am

The tool is from Moz. It is an extension, I use it in Firefox, and it is free.


06/27/2014 11:22 am

Most people using the authorship photos are, in my experience, blogs. Most of those blogs are, again, in my experience, running adsense. ...since Google makes money on AdSense, why would they want to do anything that restricts the cash flow? It is easy to point to AdWords, but in this case think about those who use the authorship photos and how Google makes money from their listings. It is about the Adsense. How many blogs with authorship are buying ads through AdWords? I would be willing to bet a pretty penny that that number is far less than those who use Adsense. It seems to me that Google acts in it's best interest and that, in the case of the blogs affected, is adsense revenue. I am not a big fan of the change, but to think that Google is doing this for AdWords doesn't seem to jive with how Google generates money from blogs...

Yo Mamma

06/27/2014 11:42 am

Sure you do and you are very Google positive in most instances and for good reason, but having a small link network of FOLLOW links pointing to your money sites will likely get you sand-boxed by G$$GLE. I would suggest spending at least $300/day in ADWORDS just to show that you're not a freeloader (in the eyes of G$$GLE)

Patti Paz

06/27/2014 11:56 am

The truth is in the eyes of the beholder - GOOGLE!!

F1 Steve

06/27/2014 12:21 pm

If the links are for the users why don't you nofollow them Durant? Are you not the guy that claims links were only ever meant to be citation? I thought you were better than this... :(

Mike Friedman

06/27/2014 01:00 pm

Sorry to see it go, but it makes sense. They are slowly going to dismantle the majority of Google+, their 18th failed attempt at conquering social media. Google+ for Business will soon be renamed to something else, dropping the Google+ tag. Google+ profile pages will go away and merged into a smaller profile version Gmail. Google Hangouts will live on. That will probably be about it.


06/27/2014 04:37 pm

While I see your point, I disagree about the blog angle but then again I work with medium sized small businesses. Many small businesses struggling to compete with brands saw this as a helpful tactic (we all know what happens to tactics!). And thus, carpet cleaners, lawyers, pest control, pool cleaners, plumbers etc instituted the Authorship. Trust me, if profile pictures caused even 5 less clicks in any of those "industries" I mentioned above, then Google would see it.


06/28/2014 07:54 pm

I guess from now on, number of real users of Google+ will drastically decrease. If I have to be honest, many people have been using their stupid Google+ profiles in order get their photo on SERP displayed. Now, they will quit and leave their profile abandoned.


06/30/2014 03:37 pm

Well, it wouldnt surprise me to see Google ramp down or abandon Google+ since that's been talked about for a long time and the venue is to me, more and more, becoming a spam depot. Google is apparently dumping Google Voice, which was supposed to become part of Google+ Hangouts. I think the upside of all this will be that the sometimes questionable companies who sell "SEO" services at obscenely high prices will need to find another product to hawk. Pretty much, maybe we're headed for an environment that can't be manipulated as much as it once was. I look forward eagerly, as Google+ pundits have predicted for a year, to websites being ranked for their content and expertise, rather than for how much money and how many tricks they threw at their site. Of course, the money part will always be there, since paying Google for ads guarantees some degree of visibility. Am I right, people?


06/30/2014 06:24 pm



07/02/2014 11:09 am

Well aren't I glad that I put off learning how to do the authorship tagging... I agree with many here. Just when you get to grips with something Google recommend we do, they change it/ remove it/ panda it/ penguin it...

Paul Johnston

07/11/2014 05:31 pm

I have noticed a slight drop in clicks from a few campaigns but they are minor blips. IMHO, I am not too concerned with this change, but my clients seem to be. In the beginning, the authorship tag was used to help it stand out from the competition on the page (at least, that's how we used it), however over time, more and more people used it it actually took away from the effect. I don't think it will be a big deal. I completely agree with domjar!! Good call buddy!

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