At SMX East today, during “Best of Show” discussion at the end of the day, Google’s Gary Illyes sent everyone home with a puzzling new piece of information. Apparently, Google Authorship markup still deserves a place on your website.
A little over a year ago it was announced that Google would be ending it’s support for Authorship. The markup already in place on sites would cease to have an effect, and could simply be left alone — no need to go out of your way to remove it.
Marketers were quick to sound the death knell for Authorship, which may have been in haste according to the information learned today
Illyes advised everyone to keep Authorship markup on their sites if it was already in place. Why? You never know when Google may decide to start using it again, Illyes said.
This conflicts with previous information from the Google which indicated was safe to remove the Authorship markup code.
What could Google end up doing with the code? A patent filed by Google last year lays out a concept of determining who authoritative authors are on various subjects, and then ranking content more prominently from authorities searchers are connected to on Google+. It’s possible that authorship markup will be used in this process, although it is not explicitly stated in the patent.
Google integrating Authorship markup with its “Authoritative User” content ranking system is one theory, but the fact that Google owns patent doesn’t inherently mean it will get used. Google holds many patents that haven’t made their way in to practice.
With that said, it’s your call whether or not you want to keep, add, or re-add Authorship markup to your site. If you want to add it to your site, there’s a guide at the end of this post on how to do so.
Image Credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock.com
Updated with more detailed information on Authoritative User patent:
The patent granted describes how Google will show content from an author if that author is connected to the searcher on Google+. In addition, in order for the author to rank her or she would have had to be identified by Google as an authority on the topic being searched for.
Authoritative users, as determined by Google, would rank more frequently when “trigger queries” are searched. Trigger queries would be determined based on search volume. High volume queries relating to a particular topic would bring up content from authors that are authorities on that topic.