Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, stated months ago Google Authorship rich snippets would soon see a 15 percent reduction. We reported on this back in October while covering Matt’s keynote at Pubcon. It appears the day has finally come and authorship rich snippets have indeed been reduced.
Matt issued a warning at Pubcon that low quality sites would eventually lose their ability to take full advantage of authorship rich snippets. Google wants to improve the search experience for users by showing only the most authoritative authors.
Checking the MozCast Feature Graph will show you a sharp decline in the amount of authorship being displayed in search results. Here’s a screen cap:
Discussions around the web, in particular the Google Webmaster Help Forums, show site owners complaining about the loss of their authorship image in the search results, another indication that the change Matt Cutts warned us all about has in fact taken place.
One individual on Google+ believes he has seen evidence that commercially oriented sites, like ecommerce and real estate, are the ones most affected by this change.
Time will tell how the reduction in authorship rich snippets improves the overall search experience, or to what extent it will affect traffic to sites that lost their authorship image. While it’s only a 15 percent reduction it’s still significant enough to be noticed by users and webmasters alike.