Anyone who follows me knows that I have invested heavily in trying to be one of the foremost experts on the subject of Google Authorship and Google's overall desire to be able to identify authors as topical authorities.
So you might imagine that it came as a huge shock to me when I heard the announcement today that Google will be removing author photos entirely from Google search results. Some might expect I'd even consider it a blow. I don't, but more on that below.
In addition to removing the photos, they will also no longer show Google+ circle counts for Google Authorship authors. All that will remain is a small byline in the result. For more details see http://searchengineland.com/google-plays-authorship-search-results-dropping-profile-image-google-circle-count-195163
UPDATE 10:45 AM EDT
has just added two comments to his original post about this:
"Just to be clear, this has nothing to do with Google+, nor with ads. This change only affects how authorship is shown in search (we continue to process & use authorship markup). "
"No, this is really just about the UI shown in seach. We’re always working on making Google Search better -- we made 890 updates in 2013 alone. We’ve decided this new design works better, particularly on mobile."
**Back to the original post**
Cleaning Up the SERPs
Google's had the following to say about this change:
We've been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we're simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count. (Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.)
And that's why this doesn't come as a huge surprise to me. Google has been telling us (and signalling by much of what they've done) that the game for the future of search is now to be won or lost on the mobile playing field. But with the addition of a street band's worth of bells and whistles on the SERPs these past few years, they had set themselves up for a very wobbly and inconsistent search experience.
In short, mobile users want things simple and clean.
It's the same thing most of us do when we realize it's finally time to unclutter our houses. Ultimately, some things must go. You hold up each object and try to think of ways you could justify keeping it, but in the interest of the bigger project (a cleaner, less cluttered house), that old bowling trophy goes into the waste bin.
The End of Authorship? Hells No
That's how I think the decision process went down at Google. I think they understood the value of the author photos, but at the end of the day, whatever that value was, it was not greater than the value they'd gain by uncluttering their search pages.
Google Authorship continues. Qualifying authors will still get a byline on search results, so Google hasn't abandoned it.
Besides, the bigger project here for Google I think is not author photos in search but the much ballyhooed but so far elusive "author rank," the ability to confidently determine who the content creators are in any given topic whom most people trust, and boost their content when appropriate. At SMX Advanced this month indicated that was still a priority, but was also still a long way off in being accomplished.
This is a long haul project folks. Don't head for the lifeboats every time Google makes a change.
Am I disappointed to see the photos going? I sure am. But such is the search business. Google isn't driven by whims or emotions. If they're doing this, they're doing it because their data and testing tells them it will be for the better in the long run.
The biggest downside I see is that probably now there will be less incentive for new people to use Authorship markup. But I have a feeling Google isn't worried about that. As I've been saying, they know that most people never would adopt it anyway. They've got to be working on the ability to identify authors and their content without depending on markup.
That's coming, but it will take a while. Stay tuned!
For another very thoughtful take on this development, I highly recommend this post by : http://stonet.co/TkfMpU
#googleauthorship #authorship #googleauthorrank #authorrank
After reading through tons of comments overnight, I made a further long response. Since many people may not read through all the comments, I'm adding it here:
I want to address the idea that this is the abandonment or "the beginning of the end" for the concept of Authorship at Google. I just don't think so. Rather just like I think we are entering into the maturation phase of the place of Google+ in the Google universe, so we are now entering the maturation phase of Google Authorship and its related concepts.
I believe that Google very much wants to pursue and eventually master the idea of author authority in search. It fits very well with their overall move into semantic search and "things over strings" or "entities over keywords." They know the future is in search becoming more and more like the way we make connections in the real world. And real life human personal authorities are at the top of the list of those connections.
But this is a much harder project than most people understand. You could really see Matt Cutts struggling to get that across to the audience at SMX Advanced when he was asked about author rank. He wouldn't outright deny that author data might be already in use in some small ways. (He confirmed to me in a tweet a few months ago that it can be a factor in qualifying for In Depth Articles, which I already knew.) But his major message was two things:
1. He really believes personally in the concept of author rank and would like to see it happen.
2. BUT the implementation of it as a direct ranking factor is still probably years off.
Here's why (from me, not Matt):
1. Google has realized that rel=author is at best a tiny first step toward understanding author authority. It has never been adopted by more than a tiny minority of the web's authors, and even many of them have implemented it incorrectly.
2. Therefore, author authority is going to have to be based on much more sophisticated means of machine-based identification and understanding. The rudimentary technologies to do those are already in existence, but they need far more refinement before Google will trust them to affect search results.
3. Even if Google can better understand who the authors of content are and what the content is about (without depending on cooperative coding by those authors), there is still the whole question of what signals do you then use to assess which authors are more "authoritative" than others? Traditional link signals? A good start, but leaves a lot out of the equation. Social signals? Google has said again and again that social signals are a) hard to access for them in anything but Google+ and b) notoriously hard to interpret correctly.
So...I think Google remains committed to the whole project of identifying the most reputable and trusted authors on given topic areas. But I think it is a very long term project, and we are only at the beginning. Furthermore, Google Authorship has not been abandoned. It still exists, even if it now has a more reduced role in search results.
One of the ways to elevate your speaking game is by eliminating common and annoying mistakes. Many of the following 10 pet peeves can be easily eliminated by simply planning and thinking ahead. Do you make any of the following speaking mistakes?
1. Showing up late or too close to your presentation time. You become rushed or find that the event organizer doesn't have a clicker, a lavalier mic or the latest version of your presentation. Or, the previous speaker ended 15 minutes early and they are ready for you to start right away. Get to your speaker room early and check out everything well in advance of your speaker time slot.
2. Hide behind or lean on the podium. Unless you are the president of the United States, or local police chief doing a press conference, avoid standing behind or leaning on the podium. Get out on the stage, move around and engage with the audience.
3. Use notes. Nothing signals an inexperienced speaker more than having and referring to notes. You are an expert on the topic you are presenting. Your slides have the reminders you need to keep your story moving forward. And you've rehearsed it several times so you know what you are going to say. Exceptions to the "no notes" rule are when you are moderating or participating in a panel or accepting an award.
4. Apologize. There are a few exceptions (you are sick and have to cough several times during you presentation), but in general avoid apologizing for anything. The absolute worst and most common apology is telling the audience you are sorry they can't see the detail in a chart. Unacceptable. They are YOUR slides, fix them so the audience can see what they need to see. Grab a screen capture of the detail, blow it up and use animation so that the detail area builds when you click. One of my other pet peeve excuses is telling the audience that your "VP of Marketing" created the slides and using that as an excuse for something. Own the slides, it is your presentation.
5. Fumble your opening. Rehearse it. Have fun. Or even be spontaneous based on a current event of the previous speaker. But whatever you do, open strong, not with a commercial about your company/employer or your bio. You can discuss your agenda, your company of even your background a few minutes into your presentation - hook them with something out of the gate. The opening is probably the most important element of your presentation, make sure you get it right.
6. Ask "How much time do I have left?" While some of the best public speakers do this, avoid doing so if at all possible. Ask the organizer for a time keeper, use the on-stage or confidence monitor countdown timer that most A/V set-ups will have, or put your watch, smartphone or tablet on the podium with a timer or countdown clock. Be responsible for knowing where you are at.
7. Discovering that audio, video or Internet doesn't work in the middle of your presentation. How many times have you seen a presenter click to a slide that has a video in it and they can't get it to work? Practice it. Work with the A/V person well in advance. If you don't trust it, then don't use the video. Worse yet is when a speaker wants to show the audience something on the Internet and the hotel or conference WiFi either doesn't work or is painfully slow. Avoid using the Internet unless you have some control over the WiFi situation.
8. Make your presentation a commercial. There can be exceptions, for example, if you are speaking at your company's client conference or a delivering a "known to the audience" sponsored session at a conference. But in general, the fact that you are on stage and educating the audience, sharing great content, tips, case studies, examples, etc - you are promoting your company or employer. Everyone in the audience knows who you work for. They aren't stupid. They can put 2 and 2 together. Most importantly, the audience will have a better experience and perception of your company if you don't try to sell them.
9. Wearing the conference badge while speaking. You are a speaker. A budding rock star - don't look like a buffoon on stage with an ugly lanyard hanging from your neck. Look like you belong on stage, not in the audience.
10. Crappy slides. Whether it is slide full of text and bullets, out-of-control animation, use of poor-quality images, small fonts or slides that look like your 5 year old designed them - amateurish slides distract attention from your the words coming out of your mouth. If you aren't going to take the time to at least build decent slides, then don't accept the speaking opportunity.
11. End without a transition. Perhaps the most common mistake of all, is not having a transition into the Q&A slide and session. How many times have you watched a speaker proceeding through their slides and then suddenly, without any notice, they click to their "Thank You/Q&A" slides and announce "That's it, that's all I have. Any questions?" This is a really poor experience for the audience. A) You haven't summarized your key points, provided any takeaways or some other way of closing with a strong ending. B) You've slammed on the brakes of your presentation and left your audience no time to start thinking of questions.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my list? What are the things you find most annoying in speakers - whether pros or newbies? Please share your thoughts and experiences.
-Cheryl Way Chiu, eden foundation
- DK New MediaCEO, 2010 - present
- Compendium BlogwareVP Blogging Evangelism, 2009 - 2010
- PatronpathVP Technology, 2008 - 2009
- ExactTargetProduct Manager
- The Indianapolis StarDatabase Marketing Manager
- ASTECH InterMediaConsultant
- The Virginian PilotAnalyst
- USNNuclear Power, 1986 - 1989
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