Updated: Did The Authorship Reduction In Google Begin? Yes.

Dec 19, 2013 • 8:39 am | comments (53) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google authorship goneIn October, Matt Cutts of Google at PubCon announced there would likely be a 15% reduction in authorship being displayed in the Google search results. Since then, I haven't seen many - I've seen some - complaints about authorship going away. But now, there seems to be a wave of complaints and reports of reduction.

If you check out the MozCast features graph and limit it to authorship, you will see a sharp decline. Keep in mind, this only analyzes about 10,000 queries or so, so it is not all that representative of the whole query base.

Authorship Reduction In Google

I have spotted complaints in the Google Webmaster Help forums (that is just one, there are many) and Google+ about reduction in authorship. I've received emails and tweets from people asking me what is going on.

Cyrus Shepard shared a single example of the Google results:

Google Authorship Reduction

I lost my authorship for a long period time and then it came back by itself this year.

So is this the reduction of authorship Matt was talking about or just a blip in Google?

Forum discussion at Google+ and Google Webmaster Help.

Update: Matt Cutts has confirmed with me that this indeed did happen.

Previous story: Google AdSense Back To Square Arrows?


Mike Pannell (Dallas Realtor)

12/19/2013 02:04 pm

From looking around it appears to be gone for all real estate agents..

Brady D. Callahan

12/19/2013 02:09 pm

I noticed the same thing about a week ago, but one thing Dr. Pete reminded me of when I shared that same graphic: the % of queries is actually only a 3% decrease. That graph is a little deceiving, for sure.


12/19/2013 02:17 pm

I have a real estate site, and it has jumped to #1 page1 for a premium state search, and in the top 7 page 1 for the abbreviated state search. And as for the authorship.... gone.

Ken Abbott

12/19/2013 02:22 pm

Yes, all mine have gone. Except of course on my G+ posts.. they are more numerous than ever.


12/19/2013 02:27 pm

I work with real estate agents. Most of them who had authorship images in search results had them stripped out over the last few days.

Alexander Hemedinger

12/19/2013 02:30 pm

My authorship has increased over time. The more you post relevant content, especially in a niche market or specific area.... it works out well.

Durant Imboden

12/19/2013 03:08 pm

I was one of the early adopters of authorship (I had my photo and bylines in the SERPs shortly after the program was announced), and all was fine until earlier this year, when the rich snippets suddenly disappeared--but only for my main site. My photo and bylines continued displaying for my blogs, although those also disappeared briefly a few days ago before returning. For what it's worth, my main site (like my blogs) is editorial, so the snippets *should* be displaying. I'm wondering if the problem may have something to do with the fact that my main site consists of "flat files" (static pages) while the blogs, which are hosted on TypePad, are clearly blogs. Maybe Google finds it easier to identify "authored" content in a blog context than on a static site. Something else that's interesting: Pages from my main site typically outrank pages from my blogs. They're often on the first page of Google search results. So it would seem unlikely that Google thought there was any kind of quality problem with the pages that are now missing rich snippets. I should add that there have been very few rich snippets in my niches for quite a while now (mostly next to search results for About.com and a handful of random small blogs.)


12/19/2013 03:23 pm

Mine are gone for both sites I had it on


12/19/2013 03:46 pm

Setup Authorship for all clients and all clients saw an increase in CLICKS as a listing with a photo draws more attention. All photos have gone (just byline now) and clicks have gone down (no move in positions). My guess is Google saw this was drawing more clicks so took it away for most organics to give more add attention. What's the bet the photos will remain in ADDS?

Jenny Halasz

12/19/2013 04:05 pm

We're seeing a slight correlation with authorship being gone for sites that are using publisher tags. Can anyone else confirm/deny this possibility?

Law @ Drumtrip

12/19/2013 04:16 pm

Interesting. I do use publisher tags and my has authorship images has gone from the SERPs

Nick Ker

12/19/2013 04:26 pm

Just on property listings or on other pages, blog posts, etc? I have a real estate client who has had authorship set up since it started and has a pretty good blog. Searching for MLS numbers just shows the name and no image, but searches that bring up his pages and posts still show the authorship image. Seems fair enough that the party is over for the listings - it isn't as if he actually wrote all those.

Dr. Pete

12/19/2013 04:33 pm

Definitely been watching that one since Pubcon. I should note that, when you drill down to a feature on the Feature Graph, the Y-axis auto-scales, so differences sometimes are exaggerated. Still, over the past 30 days, authorship has dropped from a peak of 23.7% on Nov. 24 to a low of 20% this morning. That's roughly a 16% relative decrease. which is certainly substantive. What's funny is that authorship actually climbed steadily for about a month after Matt's announcement at Pubcon, and Nov. 24 was a short-term peak. Then, it dropped. So, Google giveth before they taketh away. Not sure what the logic of that was. The density of authorship for queries that have it hasn't changed much. On both Nov. 24 and this morning, it was roughly 1.3 (in other words, if page 1 of a query showed authorship, just over 1 listing had it). It can go up to 9-10 out of 10, but that's rare. If you want to see a crazy one, try "best android phone". I see authorship markup on every single organic result.


12/19/2013 04:36 pm

This will always have been the plan to use it for high authority people - but in the short term it was another stick to beat people with to get them on to Google+ (that worked well then...)

Jenny Halasz

12/19/2013 04:49 pm

The correlation appears to be with main site pages with publisher tags on them, blog posts for the same site still show authorship images. Could Google finally be planning to use the publisher tag for something? Perhaps a corporate logo next to the search result?

Law @ Drumtrip

12/19/2013 04:50 pm

I always thought it was a bit weird to show authorship images on a site homepage to be honest. I'm just a bit miffed the images have gone from all my blog posts!

Law @ Drumtrip

12/19/2013 04:52 pm

The "best android phone" one is very odd. The cynic in me would say Google might favour positive Android search terms. I'm not that cynical though of course ;)

Dr. Pete

12/19/2013 05:00 pm

It's tough to say. The less cynical interpretation is that the query is basically 98% bloggers and it's highly competitive, so a lot of those are high-profile sites. It's easy to report the raw stats, but once you dig into the "why?", things get messy fast.


12/19/2013 05:04 pm

Authorship is dead.

Durant Imboden

12/19/2013 05:21 pm

Same here. But I use the publisher tag only on the site's home page (as per Google's instructions), not on pages that have authorship markup. So, if there is a tie-in between my use of the publisher tag and the loss of rich snippets for pages with my byline, it's a bug, not a feature.

Durant Imboden

12/19/2013 05:28 pm

Good point about the high-profile sites. I tried a search on "android phones" just now, and all of the results with author photos were from sites like CNet, PCMag, Engadget, and the Verge. That seems a bit odd, since I thought the goal of Google Authorship was to leverage and promote author reputation, not publisher reputation.

Chris Tam

12/19/2013 06:29 pm

Just like SEO. /s

josh bachynski (SEO)

12/19/2013 06:36 pm

BUT THIS IS NOT ALL THAT HAPPENED - I have plenty of sites without authorship that went up or down - something else was cloaked unerneathe

Dr. Pete

12/19/2013 07:13 pm

Come to think of it, I guess no one probably searches for "best iPhone" because the answer is just "Whatever the new one is" :)

Jenny Halasz

12/19/2013 07:49 pm

My argument would be that people who write about the "best android phone" are more likely to be active Google+ users.

Durant Imboden

12/19/2013 07:55 pm

Google has said repeatedly that authorship doesn't yet influence rankings (which makes sense, given the fact that such a small percentage of sites have authorship markup and Google has yet to perfect its newer "entity extraction" approach).

William Frenchlet

12/19/2013 09:24 pm

I would also like to add, I am not seeing many other people in the Google serps but when I am logged in, I am sick of seeing myself.


12/19/2013 11:15 pm

Thats a crazy result never seen one like that before, but the thing that stood out to me about those results is that there are results on the first page from 2011. But there are many results that are very recent so must not be that hard to rank for this term.

Nick Cavarretta

12/19/2013 11:20 pm

Mine is doing the same thing. I noticed it disappeared when I changed my profile picture. I checked using the structured data testing tool, and everything looks great. It's just not great in the SERPs. I hope it's just a bug and it will be fixed soon.

Yo Mamma

12/20/2013 02:18 am

You will have to torture me to go back to using an Android phone. Love the IPHONE, but the ring volume sucks and I used to like that little flashing light that reminds me someone called :-( But the rest - LoL - Siri - love you babe - Even use her to dictate on my PC

Thomas Zickell

12/20/2013 03:09 am

Hey Dr Pete, Not too surprising to see why Google treats itself better as the company selling its competitors device is definitely not Googles best interest financially however being a company that supposed to provide is and users or customers the possible search result & does not include the second most popular smartphone phone world's name that's not very ethical. I googled "best smartphone" & "best smartphones" the description tag on shows android devices or manufacturers names. Not one Apple or iPhone never mind Microsoft, BlackBerry, or anything else. Merry Christmas Dr Pete. I hope you have a great holiday all best, Thomas

Kevin Anchi

12/20/2013 03:11 am

me also noticing the same,last week there was a sudden pick in traffic for one day later next day everything started to fall in continuse manner

Soni Sharma

12/20/2013 05:06 am

This Time i have also lost my author Image from SERP's. But I am not worried. I hope It will bounce back again. I don't know the reason It shows properly in Rich Snippet Testing tool but not in SERP's.

Sangram Barge

12/20/2013 05:29 am

I hate Google


12/20/2013 06:52 am

This is build a brands online technique.... think about how can proof it.


12/20/2013 06:52 am

really ????????

Gaurav Srivastava

12/20/2013 07:18 am

I think this is best example so far ..lol Out: @yoast In: @tdevalk

Manohar Thakur

12/20/2013 07:24 am

Google is worst these days.

Gaurav Srivastava

12/20/2013 07:35 am

Right Jenny

Sandeep Mishra

12/20/2013 12:42 pm

Please help me Gaurav i am confuse this topic....What you describe this image


12/20/2013 01:00 pm

Why would Google pull more traffic from their ads with these rich little snippets?

Gracious Store

12/22/2013 12:14 am

How can Google authorship go away so soon? How long ago was the buzz about Google authorship used in page rank?


12/22/2013 10:21 pm

Authorship is gone for a lot of people. Also is pagerank. Just use Google for what is good for and don't give them any of your money. That is my suggestion. Bunch of tweekers. They are too big for their britches. Just a data logging for the NSA backed by CIA. Seed money cam from CIA and the clear open field for competitiveness seems to be diminishing. My site should have higher pagerank as it once did but Google put the kabosh on it to make it fair to competitors. I was OK with that but then they pushed it down further for no other reason than not placing Google ads. Free service but self serving.

Dean Marsden

12/24/2013 01:14 pm

For a long time now I've noticed that many of our company blog posts do not have authorship applied. I am expecting a lot more to not show now with this confirmed update. I guess it would look quite odd to see full pages of results all with authorship snippets, but I thought that's what Google wanted to work towards.

Larry Hinkle

12/28/2013 06:38 pm

They add nothing and are very annoying. Please take them all away. so sick of seeing irrelevant pictures of irrelevant people in irrelevant results. Been trying to find a way to turn them off for months. I am less likely to even read a snippet with a picture


01/06/2014 03:52 pm

They appear to have significantly disappeared from the high value PPC queries, as it was pulling interest away from the the top 3 adwords results. I had sites with authorship image in queries that command £15+ p/c (Gambling) and all author images are gone. Once again Google greed has got the better of them and they are trying to once again put more emphasis on adwords than organic search.

Spook SEO

01/07/2014 04:00 am

Matt Cutts is just trying to let us relax during the holidays whereas on the other hand they are continuously making further changes in the algorithm as a decrease in the authorship, url removing tool and all those updates are impacting upon the search engine results ultimately.


01/07/2014 07:10 am

Want authorship images in SERPs? Don't be selling on your blog. Google hates the competition.

Corporate Photographer

02/17/2014 05:54 pm

my author photo would not show because it turned out it did not like the camera in front of my face- I changed to a google friendly photo and it displayed, but about 2 months ago it disappeared- I have no spam or don't sell on my site

Scott Kelley

04/16/2014 09:09 am

Mine decided to cut completely out one day on two different sites. My author stats and images showing in the SERPs literally went to zero in just a couple days. I found out it was the google+ author image I was using. Once I fixed that, they all immediately came back on both sites for that profile. If you're interested in the details - http://mancavezen.com/280/fixed-author-image-showing-google-search/

Yogita Aggarwal

05/07/2014 02:58 am

Hey Experts, here is a question.. My authorship was working fine till last week of April but suddenly there is a huge drop in my author stats.. checked via Google webmaster tool .. Let me know if anyone experiencing same..and please suggest now what to do ?


06/22/2014 05:09 pm

exact same problem, what the hell does this mean?

Yogita Aggarwal

06/23/2014 05:16 am

I got my authorship back after few days but now again its gone from last 1 week.

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