Author Photos Removed from Google
Google announced last month it was removing author photos from the search results. Frankly, I am not surprised. Queries returning author photos were down to 0% in a matter of a few days.
Officially the view is Google is trying to make search results more mobile friendly. Photos after all take up quite a bit of screen space on a phone. While mobile search is the area that’s growing fastest, I also suspect Google wishes to try to protect the integrity of Google +.
Photos and Google + circles could be displayed subject to verification via Google +. There was an unproven suspicion photos might improve CTR along with the Google + circle count but there’s no hard data on that. It’s also possible Google believes the presence of author photos detracts from its own ads. Only Google knows for sure.
To put this in perspective around 22% of search queries returned results with author photos. Who’s this going to impact most? There are a lot of blog authors out there who will feel hard done by. As will any writer who considers they were developing a personal brand. All these are gone. Content is king again. Sound familiar?
The only exception appears to be Google News (for now). Here it appears a much smaller author photo will be included along with a news photo snippet. But even these might not be around for long and contain no reference to Google+ circles.
At the end of the day Authorship is still around with author names still appearing in the search results. Authorship is still the only route to being able to utilise enhanced snippets.
Rankings for the most part are unlikely to be impacted by this change. What I would say however is CTR is likely to be a ranking factor. So make those Titles and Descriptions memorable.
Worried about the impact on your CTR? You can track Author Stats through Google webmaster tools.