Google authorship is no more - what does it mean?

Now that Google has completely dropped support for Authorship rich snippets on articles in its search results, we were wondering what that means for web and content developers. Here is what we found out...

The basics

  • All instances of rel="author" can be removed from your markup. If you just don't have time to deal with it right now, don't worry - you won't be penalized for putting it off. Google will treat it like any other markup. Some have even suggested leaving it in place in case it becomes useful down the road. That's up to you, although I'm in favour of keeping things tidy.  

  • Publisher markup is not affected. If your organization has a G+ Page you can still use rel="publisher" for attribution. 

  • Google+ posts will still show author information to friends who are logged in.

For Drupal users

If you use Drupal CMS and Metatag, until support for authorship is discontinued you can safely ignore the "Author URL" field. If you have a G+ Page, you can still use the "Publisher URL" field. 

Will my website traffic be affected?

Although Google is always quick to emphasize that users are Priority #1, Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller did note on Friday that their own tests showed no reduction in traffic when authorship information was removed. 

What are rich snippets, anyway?

The Authorship in web-search page now links rather abruptly to a separate page about rich snippets. (No suprise; Google doesn't like to dwell and why should they?) Rich snippets are the fancy bits that decorate a search listing. Their purpose is to provide a snapshot of the page in a way that makes it easier for users to understand what it is about. Although rich snippets don't affect page rank all on their own, they can help increase click-through rate (which, in turn, affects rank). Just because authorship is gone, that doesn't mean there aren't other great snippets to be explored. If you haven't delved, yet, now is definitely the time.

Are you pleased about this change? Not so much? Let us know.