We’ve really had the run-around on Authorship, thanks to Google’s ever-changing brain. Just when we thought all that hype was only that, we hear that Google has killed it. Completely. In terms of Authorship, this should be your thought now: nada.
I can hear the sound of flags being lowered to half-mast across the globe. Perhaps writers are stirring their lattes sadly, with a teary expression on their face. At times like this, it’s right to spend a moment in reflection. Right, reflection time is over. Let’s have a look at the death of Google Authorship, its causes, and the implication it has for content writers.
Was Google Authorship A Step Too Far?
When Google announced its Authorship plans, it sounded too good to be true. Writers, through the use of rel=author tags, could use their articles, blogs and general brilliance to make themselves more visible, and increase their rankings on search engines. All the writer had to do was to mark up their content on their Google+ account, and leave the search engine wizards to do the rest. That’s easy, huh? Well, for many it wasn’t easy enough, and that’s why Authorship was doomed to fail.
The fact is that many writers are happiest when they’re tapping away at their computer keyboards, letting their fiendish brains take them on flights of fancy, sharing their wisdom with a waiting world. They want to complete their work, put it out there in cyberspace, and then forget about it. Anything that seems too ‘techy’ can see them run screaming to the hills.
The Google+ mark up scheme was simple to implement, but it was still too involved for some authors. As reported in Search Engine Land, a recent study by Stone Temple Consulting found that a remarkable 70% of authors made no attempt to mark their authorship on the content they were producing, and that many of them complained that the rel=author mark up system was too complex or time-consuming.
Why Did Google Create Authorship?
Believe it or not, there’s nothing that Google loves more than connecting its users with the content they want. They don’t spend their days trying to find new ways to move their parameters, or looking for new ways to make things more difficult for bloggers and writers. That’s just a by-product.
Google has said time and again that they want to promote high quality content, and they saw the Authorship scheme as a way to do this. If a writer consistently produces exciting and informative content, and had a track record of writing blogs and articles for leading sources, then it’s only right that they should be connected with the public. Google Authorship would reward writers who consistently created content that people wanted to read. That reward came in the form of enhanced search visibility, rather than a maxi-sized blueberry muffin, but it was still good.
Is that the only reason that Authorship was created, or was there another underlying cause? Some cynics may imagine that Google wanted to find another way to add value to its Google+ channel. Since its launch in 2011, Google+ has failed to slay the giant that is Facebook. If authors could increase their search rankings by using G+ more fully, then surely they’d interact with it more often, right? What do they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? That cheese has well and truly moved.
The Death of Google Authorship
The announcement was made to a less than shocked world on August 28th, when John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced that Google Authorship was no more, it had ceased to be. It was an ex-scheme. So why did they carry out this technological infanticide?
Put simply, it wasn’t providing the advantage to searchers or writers that Google had hoped, because of the low take up. Google had attempted to address the problem by auto-attributing work, but this in itself caused problems when work was incorrectly attributed. Famously, they attributed a work to Truman Capote that was written nearly three decades after his death. Capote wouldn’t mind, he did, after all, often claim authorship of his friend Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, but it was symptomatic of the problems besetting Google Authorship.
The Importance of Blogging, Post-Authorship
It’s a fact that Authorship wasn’t used as much as it should have been, but to those who did use it, it was very helpful indeed. It was like getting a free popsicle from Google at the end of every day, and now they’ve snatched it away. So what can writers do to ensure that their content is still getting the attention it deserves on the SERP merry-go-round?
We all know that it’s impossible to second guess Google, or decipher their ever elusive algorithms. What we can, and must do, however, is to listen to what they’ve been sating to us over and over again. They want high quality content, not content that consists of meaningless backlinks with a few words to flesh them out.
We’ve lost the magic trick that was the Google Authorship program, but by concentrating on turning out informative and content rich blogs and articles, we can still maintain our content authority and reach a wide audience. Rest In Peace, Google Authorship, you’ll be sadly missed. But only by 30% of writers.