On August 29th, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that the Authorship information will be completely removed from the search results. This follows the removal of Authorship photos in June. Businesses focused on strategies to optimize search results immediately took note of this development as authorship had made their content authoritative. Now, authorship information is no longer available. So it’s time to look at how to improve your search results in the current scenario.
According to the Google Plus post on the matter, they decide to drop authorship information because they found the information was not very useful to searchers and even detracted from search results at certain times. They also found it was not always easy to implement authorship. Though the authorship validation through the Structured Data Testing Tool is no longer available, it was proved in their tests that the authorship removal generally does not seem to reduce the traffic to sites. Users can still see Google+ posts from friends and pages if they are relevant to the query (both in the main search engine results and on the right side). This means the authorship change will not impact social features.
So, how can you improve your search results in the current scenario? The blog post says Google will continue and expand support of structured markup (such as schema.org). Search engines can better understand the content and context of pages on the web with the help of this markup. The post also says that this markup will continue to be used to show rich snippets in search results. Google’s authorship support page also prompts webmasters to look into rich snippets to improve the search results.
Rich snippets are the detailed information intended to help users come up with specific queries. For example, a rich snippet for a music album could include a list of songs with a link to play each song.
Such snippets can help search users identify when your site is relevant to their queries and may result in more clicks to your web pages. In short, you can create authoritative content with rich snippets. Here are the three steps to these snippets:
- Choose a markup format from Microdata (recommended), Microformats and RDFa
- Markup your content. Google supports rich snippets for reviews, people, businesses and organizations, products, recipes, music and events. The search engine recognizes markup for video content as well
- Test your markup using the structured data testing tool to ensure that Google can read and extract the marked-up data
The following three options can help Google understand the content of your pages: adding HTML markup to all of your pages, using Data Highlighter, or using structured Data Markup Helper. Professionals with experience in SEO can tell you which one will work best for your business.
Mueller reiterates that Google will keep expanding and improving the set of free tools they provide to make it easy to optimize the sites. So we can look forward to additional measures to help authoritative content to show up in search.