Google Has Reduced Authorship Rich Snippets By 15 Percent

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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:

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 7.17.25 PM

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.

Matt Southern

Matt Southern

Lead News Writer
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides.
Matt Southern
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  • Grant

    So why would they be removing the rich snippets? I lost mine and my site is far from low quality. What are they considering to be low quality sites? This sucks. I have been neglecting my writing a bit but MAN!!! Come on. Its still a high quality site, right? I usually would not say this but… Boooooo Google. and booooo Matt.

    • Moin Shaikh

      While we believe that our sites are fine from quality perspective, Google does not think similarly. They think their own way and ultimately users have to suffer 🙁

  • Pratima

    A 15% reduction in rich snippets is no big deal when you have already lost 80% of your Google traffic!

  • Callum Cherry

    anyone out there who has lost the authorship rich snippet?

    • Sean D. Francis

      One of my clients is in a niche field that is also a bit spammy. They say their competitors gaining some visual advantage on the SERPs with Google Authorship. I was getting pressure to start implementing it on their sites even though I was pointing out that their competition was using it incorrectly (applying authorship to lead generation pages, etc.) and a Google correction would be coming soon. Sure enough, all the authorships from most of the competition disappeared.

  • Carl

    Quite interesting, why they did it in first place, when now removing it? The only benefit was probable higher CTR.

    • Sean D. Francis

      Authorship does affect CTR. In certain niche industries, authorship was being applied to pages that were clearly not byline worthy pages just to boost the CTR to those pages. None of my sites were hit so I’m okay with this.

  • Bharat

    Hey nice to see the results but don’t know why my author ship was not verified from last year i have tried many time. Is the the same reason for this.

  • Alex

    We just have to grin and bare it, as always with Google. At a time when they’re really trying to promote Google+ they shouldn’t be making it more restrictive, though. I like G+ a lot and use it over Facebook and Twitter. I suppose it depends on how “rich” these snippets are. If someone rambles on for 100 words then fair enough, but I try and keep mine concise. Many folk will definitely be saying “Harrrummmph!” right now.

  • Tommy Landry

    The goal of G+ is more about identity authentication and assigning authority to entities based on behavior. If someone shares only promotional content, rather than well written and valuable material, the natural thing to expect from Google is that they’ll lose some visibility in the SERPs. They have a new lever to filter out spammy behavior, so I’m not surprised at this one bit.

  • Boardwalk

    Authorship is a must but some sites do better without the user’s photo and rich snippets so it is not a must but good to have for certain niches

  • Abdul

    Seriously, i don’t believe Google Authorship. Almost 97% of the websites say that they have gained sales improvement or traffic after verifying Google plus. But, i am observing 15-20% sales drop whenever i verify my G+.

    I am running a cigarette electronique site (targeted france), most of the visitors who enter into my G+ after doing google search, wont convert into customers. G+ pages cannot be highly optimized as our main sites.. This the biggest prob with G+ accounts.

    my case study:

    Day 1 without G+ image:
    Lets say 2500 visitors clicked on my website from Google search. Out of 2500, My keyword conversion is very good and i can roughly say 60-90 sales in day 1.

    Day2 with G+:
    Here, traffic divides. Out of 2500 visitors, nearly 400-550 visitors clicks on my G+. And from there conversion is very very less. I am loosing almost 15-20 sales.

    This is what happening whenever i activate my G+.