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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.)

For more information on using authorship on pages of your website, check out

Edit: In the meantime, we've decided to remove authorship completely:
forrestt williams's profile photoJohn Mueller's profile photoScott M Stolz's profile photoAytekin Alpaslan's profile photo
Wooah... big news that. Kinda ouch! Guess we'll have to hold our breath for the results.
This is confusing as you linked to a page showing how to set up authorship?
You set up authorship in the same way and what may show in search results (if appropriate)  is a byline with the author's name. But no longer will the author's image be shown. This is the main change.
And yes, the help article needs tweaking to eliminate the mention of the headshot.
+Christine DeGraff it is just Google's general page about authorship. Authorship, the idea of connecting the writer to the content, still exists. They are just not showing the photo anymore.
Good riddance. Broken system that affected CTR way too much.
when is this rolling out?  I am still seeing them
This is rolling out globally over the next days.
+Andrew Shotland do you see them logged out in incongnito mode? I still see them logged in but not when I'm logged out.  +John Mueller , are they still going to show for people logged in?
Prediction: adoption of authorship markup, which was already poor, will drop to almost non-existent.
Seems strange that CTR won't be affected with photos disappearing. Eye-tracking studies suggest that Author photos have a clear impact. 
This is a pretty major change. This is why us SEOs can't have nice things. Spammers ruin it for everybody. +John Mueller will the profile photos still be displayed if you are logged in and have the author in your circles? How about for searches for a particular authors name (assuming a knowledge graph result isn't triggered?).
Oh dear, I fear the next wave of frenzy will involve how to achieve the ultimate gratification of having one's own knowledge graph displayed ;)
Why he has it and I don't.
+Barry Schwartz , your question may have to take a number - first there's the matter of preview thumbnails which no longer appear in search results but still do in Webmaster Tools - thus still causing   grief when they don't update quickly.
Hardly the same CTR... I have 3x intentionally lost my image from the results and EACH Time the drop was approximately 25%

Since I have 1million impressions and 110k CTR on average every 3 months, I think my tests show there is a significant drop.

Also your assertion it does not change CTR would violate all other usability and eye-tracking studies that show that an image in search increases CTR.
a step back to last decade? shame on you, google...
Give it a few days and you won't see anything any more.
Dan Shure
My conclusion: Google either plans on letting G+ die on it's own, or phasing it out. Author photos was one of the biggest incentives to join and use G+ at all. I'm sure John will say otherwise, but it just (to me) seems like the first step. I could be wrong, but it's my hunch. I don't see how they would overlook the fact that no author photos = less adoption and usage. 
Sadly I have to agree with +Dan Shure Google either plans on letting G+ die on it's own, or phasing it out.

Authorship ( author photos displayed  ) was one of the main reasons people adopted G+.

If they mess with Knowledge Info Panels at some stage we'll have our answer.
This will affect all the results? also the Google+ Profile listings in Google Search?
Why are people commenting "very nice". This is a step backwards. The profile photo especially was great for driving organic click traffic. Organic listings with authorship enabled will definitely see a drop in clicks moving forward.
We will see a drop in CTR, but Not for Google, especially with them scraping our sites and displaying the answers to queries, we may never get clicks again.
+Mark Traphagen so many web developers who never wanted to add that markup will be over the moon now...
So is Authorship dead or just the vanity aspects?
I'm new to all this and was trying to show my picture in SERPS.

Heres my 2 pence worth:
- CTR will definitely fall, there is nothing more eye catching or engaging than a facial picture

- Author/trust - I think that good authors deserved their picture being shown which hence drove users in the right direction ie towards good content and a good user experience. Sure there were also a SEO benefits but only if they were well deserved as a reputable author.

In any case - I thought Googoe were going to incorporate an author ranking into their algolrythm.

I'm sure this is a temporary measure - dont forget they culled author pics in Dec 2013 only to later reinstate. 
Read this:

What Does it All Mean?
It would seem that the hype surrounding authorship snippets is justified:

Top organic results continued to get significant viewership, even without authorship – but importantly, lower-ranked results that implemented authorship were able to draw a disproportionate amount of attention in comparison to surrounding results without it.

It might be harder to convince clients of the value of getting the plumbing right now that the visual bonus is gone. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I don't think the drop in CTR will be such a big deal once all things are considered. I haven't had an image since they took it away last time and I haven't bothered to make the changes necessary to bring it back so that's one job crossed off the list. Next? :)
+Brian Jensen that would be a little shattering, especially if it happened right on the heals of this change.
+Peter Hatherley Google has been way more restrictive on rich snippets in search in general. Way too many attempts to game them. But schema is worth pursuing if you have the time and knowledge, not just for trying to get special search features.
Rich Snippets will power Google. They are integral.
Yes I'm confident that schema will survive +Jim Munro all the major engines have bought into it so it's not going away. In our local digital marketing group one of our members has been paricularly successful in integrating it with ecommerce sites
M? O n z t g h k who'll cesium zg think Julio
+Robert Ramirez  This has nothing to do with spammers. The fact that a page has the rel="author" attribute doesn't automatically shows the profile picture next to the result.  
+Bruno Monteiro have you ever done a lawyer search in google? Don't fool yourself, it has everything to do with spammers. 
Sigh, I liked that feature :(
+John Mueller Could we please have the CTR difference quantized, instead of blurry adjectives like "similar"?
+Dan Shure I think you're right on the money with Google phasing out G+. The platform simply didn't accomplish their objectives to compete with other social platforms. I've heard other theories about them eliminating it, and reasons why.. obviously that conversation is out of scope here but pretty obvious this removal of photos might be the first step towards that. I however would prefer the authorship photos stay intact in serps.
You are drawing THIS conclusion just because an author image is no longer going to be shown? Author attribution will still show iff it's used in a valid manner - which is far from being the case with most sites where they've tried to implement that.
Just because you used a blogging platform like  Blogger or Wordpress and sell widgets or some e-book  doesn't mean there's authorship to be recognized. Having yur mug there wouldn't make it any better.
Cool. Thanks for the update John.
Really appreciate the information. Thank you John.
+Mark Traphagen
I completely agree with you!  This is certainly going to make it that much harder to get folks to start building their Authorship.
Google's changing something? Can't be... :)
Great for me - Google stopped displaying my picture after a the second authorship update...
Many time spent to put my bad face in the serp, and now this is all lost time?
Any way whit thumb I had a 20% of traffic increase. I'm wondering about your change and for all that are existing.... Exiting for what??? (sorry for my terrible English)
This Going to affect highly 
I appreciate this update! Concentrating more on content for actual user search query. And, clickable link to author profile is fine and enough.
Glad this is happening. Wish it would have happened a long time ago. 
A few short comments:
- this has nothing to do with Google+.  You can use authorship markup without being active on Google+, you can use Google+ without using authorship markup.
- we still use & support authorship markup.
- the structured data testing tool is going to be updated too (and we'll review the various help center articles as well)
We can now use our favorite cat/boobs images as profile photos with a clear conscience :D
+Przemek Sztal now that is the spirit that we want to see. When are you changing your profile to your cat?
It would be great to get an real explanation instead of some snake oil about unchanged CTR. Your authorship stats in GWT is the best indicator to verify a fundamental change in CTR.

At yahoo - the search monkey project, that provided rich snippets and author pics, was public to logged in users only, stopped later in case of poor adoption rates by webmasters - google could use that existing integration and standing of g+ authorship relations to provide profil images also to logged in users only - so friends and followers could easily recognize each other...
+Przemek Sztal I cannot say but I need a good laugh. I still think people should use a good head shot like yours and be professional. 
+Dan Petrovic sorry, I missed that. Yes I am talking to you. I just was annoyed by everyone thinking they deserved to have their image rendering. Not every puppy goes home from the pound and not every website deserves to be first. Not everyone deserves to have an image and people were gaming the system. 
How about sharing the click through behaviour? 
The clickthrough rate on this was never important but the "trust result" from the reader. Being in a special niche allows authors to build  up quality ranking which - in part - is indicated by the number of people following this advice. 

It is fine to go back to what it was - it just means that there is less reason to take care of the google plus pages as an author. If no followers but a profiles is all that it takes to get the image in there, that will be easy. 
I think it's a good idea.
Now only people that care about what this thing really is will continue to use it. Using authorship only to have an image in SERPs was not the point and will never be.
Good to hear that, I was wondering if something was wrong with my Google authorship setup ;)
This is not good news! It's a huge step backwards and as for "clean up the visual design of the search results" just implies more space for ads.
+John Mueller is this true for every country users, or just for english / any subset of queries? In the linked page I can see just more little image and this sounds little confusing to me...
Really can't put into words how incredibly disappointing this is. Thousands and thousands of words to develop a brand image in SERPs and help people affected by substance abuse gone at the stroke of a key.
Sad but understandable - just adding circles and having a picture does not make for better results. Sadly I'll have to adjust my marketing trends...
Google  is cheating us

 Google   told us:  "Without a photo you are not "a real person"
a 1)
we trust G => "Author photos displayed"   was one of the main reasons people adopted G+.

now G is telling us  => we have clean the serps  (your photo will not shown)


Authorship is not  a "thumbnail" ;
so google+ account is now totally useless :) great that I don't need it anymore!
Will the name of the author still be shown in serps ?
Very surprising and somewhat disappointing development. Thanks for letting us know. 
You really want to deny that a pic of the author in the SERPs can have a positive effect on the click behaviour? I can't believe it. :-(
Now we can see only a clickable author name without Google+ circle count. Does that mean now Google will not consider authors circle in SERP? And we really think that this change will bring down the CTR!!
Would you mind giving us some insight into the experiments? This is not a small update.
From reading the comments here many people have the wrong idea of the value of Google authorship, and Google has brought this to the table for discussion by removing the authorship image.

If people only adopted G+ to get the authorship image then we have a big problem, as this appears to be a way to game the system.   It was proved many times over that those posts / pages where an authors mug shot was present in the SERP's got more clicks, and Google (in my opinion) is just putting things back into the correct perspective by removing these MUG SHOTS as they were having a not so healthy impact on the true search results click through rates.

The true value of Google authorship is not in having your mug-shot showed along side your SERP's but in the semantic footprint linking that takes place through the Google authorship linkages as associated with you G+ profile.

#fufism or Functional user Friendly Integrated social media is another issue that needs your attention...
Seriously, if Google wanted to kill Google +, he wouldn't do better. Small bloggers and webmasters are those who make alive the communities. In the past, we made tutorials to help people who didn't have the skills to get their authorship so they could at least have the little satisfaction to have their heads in the results. I don't buy the argument it doesn't change at all the clicks. "Don't be evil" lol I'm laughing "Viva Adwords"
Abba - Money, Money, Money
So sad ! Does Google officially announced this ? 
+Dave Auten
That is why (in my opinion) Google has done away with these MUG-SHOTS 

too many people joined G+ with the idea that this would get them better CTR's (Click Through Rates) and then failed to do all the necessary follow up by making proper use of the G+ platform.

By removing these author pics and watching the results as many people drop their use of G+ Google will have a very clear understanding of who was gaming the system and lable these individuals as such, for future referance, so if you have been using this, do not stop and step back, as you could be permanently labeled as a GAMER / BLACK HAT SEO techie

Auhtoship has so much more to offer thatn you pic in the SERP's along side your result, and those who have failed to see this need to be identified, and marked for future referance by THE BIG G MACHINE and this is their way of identifying those individuals who are not serious.

so think and enjoy...
+Joshua Berg many thanx for a great post that has the community talking...

this is going to be an eye opener for Google who will make many decisions based on how we as the user community re-act to this change....

It is my opinion that those who have not done their home work, will be identified by Google and marked as such, and those who used this feature purely to game the system, and now drop back their use will be in for a surprise at a later stage.

GOOGLE is always collecting data, and they never delete any info, they just re-arrange the results of their data with better analysis of the data from different angles.
+Frank Gainsford in the 20+ years I've been using Google, change is the only constant. So I tend not to hold my breath on these changes & you never know which ones will stick.
+Dave Auten
Google does not do these things lightly, and issues like this need to be understood as best we can,.   Remember that Google collect so much data for their scientists to analyze , and they never delete anything....

this gives them the power to go back just ten minutes or 10 years and compare the results across time.   The fact that so many people were conned into taking up G+ activity purely for the benefit of the AUTHOR IMAGE IN THE SERP's  is a very big issue, and you can not deny this is true, because so many people have actually said so in this comment stream.

It is my opinion that Google needed to address this issue and the simplest way in my mind is what they have done....  removing the issue....

The numbers game also played a big part of this, as many resorted to a number of underhand tactics to grow their circle count numbers artificially, and this is also about to be addressed...

so lets see which way, and just how strong the winds of change will blow.... Hopefully they will not reach gale force and leave behind carnage and destruction, like some of the PENGUIN and PANDA changes did.
Never "fakaed" with anything and was happy to use G+ since the beginnings. Autorship was (and is)  a good feature and I must agree to those who say that this move is 
1 - a way Goolge is trying to abandon G+ project as such because the active and good G+ storytellers are most active on and best seen (in search) via autorship. 
2 - a process that is taking away a great part of G+ empowerment..
"click-through similar to the previous one."

Sir, that's a bold faced lie.
Author Profile photo does effect the CTR ... this is crazy !
Sorry +Frank Gainsford but I have to disagree with your idea that Google is doing this to somehow "out" and then penalize people gaming of spamming Authorship, or "joining Google+ for the wrong reason."

First of all, in Google's eyes, unless you are a totally fake or spam account, there is no such thing as "joining Google+ for the wrong reason." Google wants every real person to have a G+ profile. Period. End of story.

Furthermore, tagging people as spammers who  should be penalized on the basis of how well they do or don't use Google+ is both unworkable and preposterous. People do what they do for a myriad of complex reasons. There is no way Google could sort out such behavior in a scalable way that would be meaningful to them.

Google+ is only the identity foundation for Google's author identity and authority program, but it is by no means the whole ball of wax. There were plenty of great, trustworthy authors who very rightfully have been showing up regularly in search with Authorship snippets who rarely or never use Google+.

And Google also realizes that neither G+ profiles nor rel=author markup are the ultimate answer to them solving the identified author authority nut they want to crack. Not everyone they need to know about will ever implement both of those. Their project is much bigger, and far more difficult than both of those, which is why +Matt Cutts keeps reminding us that any true author rank is still way down the road/
You are all missing the real point here. The issue Google has is, the pictures in the SERPS were taking away from clicks on the ads. Anytime there is an increase in CTR on an Organic listing, there is a decrease in CTR on the Paid listing. 

Nothing to see here, this is just a revenue enhancer for Google. Next, look for Authorship markup on Adwords listings. Since they know it increases CTR, thanks to us test subjects, they know it will be a huge boost to Paid advertising CTR.
+Tyler Collins +Dan Shure 
From news reports it might seem to the average user that Google is letting up on creating a new social media site at Google+ by switching the program head over to another department.

You may not find your old elementary school friend on Google+ and share a Kodak photo you found in the closet but I look at Google+ as Google's social network that it uses to interact with you in its algorithm.

Google consolidated (herded) users profiles into their Google+ account over time...remember Picasa…and how you had Google+ profiles automatically created for your YouTube account? And think about Chrome…your Android Device, your Maps usage, and Gmail, Glass, etc etc. 
All this data about you and the people, places, events, things, and content you interact with is what Google sees as your sphere of influence and social behavior. This data (aka the Social Network usage)  is part of Google's algorithm used for personalized interaction with users.

(one of) Google's goal is to be everyone's personal assistant with near-real time access to information on a world and individual level making Google  indispensable and intertwined in our individual lives.

As a marketer I see Google+ (or whatever they want to call it) as the most effective way to get in and be in our target audience’s sphere of Google influence so they will be more likely to be served our content when they interact with Google.

Google+ may change the name but Google's work building a social network that allows them to be part of users lives has reached critical mass and is here to stay. 
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). 
+John Mueller I guess what confuses me is that in some of Google's own webinars/research/etc. it had been highlighted that authorship images correlates with higher CTR's, but it sounds like there is now new, contradicting data?
Its not a good desicion, becaus it is a real trust element. Really bad... ^^

Its a "minus1"!
+Nathaniel Tower what +Charles Montgomery is suggesting is more than likely the case. I posted last night that Google has always been an example of what it means to serve your audience to the best of your ability & at the same time, monetize strategically. But, if serving is costing you money, you have to make a decision on how much you're willing to lose before changing something. I also think its likely that Google will experiment with author pics on paid ads, although I don't think it will last long. Just a stepping stone to finding the delicate balance between serving & monetizing. 
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. 
+John Mueller can you add any more clarity about your claim about CTR? That seems to be generating the most confusion and even cynicism.
+John Mueller Will you also remove video screenshots from the search results? Those take up more real estate than those tiny little author photos.  
+John Mueller like +Mark Traphagen said I'm skeptical about the ctr claim. I have data that says my client's ctr skyrocket on the pages we added markup on...particularly on mobile.
Granted, it wasn't an author photo, but I find it hard to believe that those you're of rich snippets have little impact
They probably removed it because too many of you were spamming and abusing the system IMO. It was cool back in the day when people posted and shared valuable content. Now it's just a full blown circus of spam.

I think I'll stay on G+ for the people that I have met and continue to do what I do best.
I am much disappointed.  Oh well, thanks for the info. to know.
IMO: The CTR will be highly effected. My clients contacted me because of my friendly face after reading my credentials. Smh!
Not happy, just another tool/feature that Google gave us & has taken away.
On the subject of CTR... maybe the new experiments show that it wasn't actually the image, but rather the author's name that was driving the increase CTR highlighted in previous experiments.  Clarifying would certainly be helpful as many of us (myself included) have touted this to clients as a reason to leverage G+ authorship. In Google's defense -  even if that's not the case, increased CTR's is something that benefits the author more than it does the searcher, and the searcher is ultimately Google's primary customer.  If removing images for a cleaner, better mobile experience was balanced against providing content authors more traffic, of course Google would choose the better experience.  I still don't like it though :)
Maybe the profile pic put non authorship authors at a disadvantage. There's ton's of great content out there posted by people not on Google+ IMO.
It's a good step I guess, It gave a clear advantage to those people who have less ranking but has their authorship details in search engines. Nowadays it's impossible for newbies to display their images in Google search. Great relief for them.
+John Mueller the authorship image was hardly ever shown on mobile anyway. Is there any good news in this update for webmasters? Is there any remaining reason to use authorship? Still waiting on my +brand to start working in search results ;-) 
I know i saw a serp heatmap study that showed photo impact on hover / ctr. Sorry, without more data on the "clean up the serps" and non ctr impact i gotta assume that there was a negative correlation b/w authorship photos and Google ads ctr. 
Authorship is like meta-keywords, their time has come and gone and good riddance 
google authorship snippets were the only reason to be a member of google+. I guess I can cancel my account finally.
Excuse my English.
Google Strategy:

1. Choose to reduce your income for low-sponsored SERPs CTR and you increase the authorship markup
2. Choose to keep SERPs CTR sponsored and doing slower authorship markup

It is clear that the author photo increases in SERPs CTR and CTR have also reduced the SERPs sponsored.

The pull effect by 3/4 photos in the SERPs disappear once all the results are. It was a matter of time before this happens. And Serps CTR sponsored return to their previous numbers.
Long term this makes search results consistent across the board... which with the recent changes to the Adwords ad format actually is likely generate more paid clicks for Google which = more profit. I would probably guarantee that authorship or lack thereof contributes to changes in paid ad clicks. This is not about SEO or even Google+ as a product. It's strictly a business decision for increased Adwords revenues, where Google makes their money. Nothing wrong with that either...
+John Mueller
 I bet you guys did this to keep us safe from the NSA right, just like when you took away keyword data. Thanks Google:-)
Wouldn't it make more sense to show the title first and the name after? I don't personally care for this, a bad move. When people are searching for something I would think it would be common sense that they would want to read the title first, rather than someones name.

All this will do is divert people's attention away from the title, and put that focus on the authors name. Can't agree with this at all.

If someone is searching for an answer to problem, returning a name first doesn't exactly correlate with answering their question.
I completely agree with Jennifer Mitchell ... this is a business move because the photo CTR for authorship was probably stealing too many paid clicks. I wouldn't be surprised to see authorship photos appear in ads. Google once again comes out with something valuable and then takes it away. VERY disappointing news from Google. 
+Scott Sumerford EXACTLY! People were more likely to click on the link with the profile picture than some boring Google ad. Its a business move with no benefit to anyone but Google.
Reading the comments here there is so much more to this than first impressions indicate.
because of the massive amount of abuse and black hat usage!
Guys, this has nothin to do with organic search, professional SEOs or we masters in general. It's a business move to make more revenue from paid search. They've standardized the search results from ads to the bottom of the page. 
Then why not randomly mix in the ads with the organic results? Why do ads get top placement in the SERPS?
Better yet, why doesn't Google stop thinking only about themselves and maybe others for once! We have no way to monetize from our Google+ communities, but Google is allowed to dump ads all over its search results. Not buying this garbage from Google any longer!
Uh, because that's where the most clicks are...?

I don't think profile images have taken away much in the way of paid clicks. I think it's for the same reason that Google doesn't put small images with AdSense text ads. They will increase CTR, but not value to the user or advertiser.
Congrats! I just posted and pinned this nonsense to the 60,000 members of Strategic Social networking. Google is greedy, and I'm making it known! The issue here isn't even just Authorship, its the fact that everything Google does is only in their favor, and its always centered around money.

Maybe I would like to put ads on the sidelines of my community and monetize as well, but only Google is allowed to dump ads everywhere and pocket the money for themselves. Now they want to grab all the traffic for themselves, have at it!

In case no one realized it, Google isn't the only one who should be credited with growing this network, others were involved as well.
+Kris Gerner Yep! Ads always get spot number one, the rest of us get screwed! Google is the only one who matters here.
I found the pictures actually drew my eyes to the result.
+John Mueller Nothing to do with Google+ nor ads? Authorship has everything to do with Google+! You can't use it without this platform.

Question, being that Google makes a killing with sponsored Google+ posts in Adwords, when are Google+ community owners going to get options to monetize on this place as well? Or should you guys get all the credit despite the thousands of hours of work that myself and others have devoted to growing your network? Maybe we would like a cut of the pie as well. Google isn't the only one who grew this place.

Would be nice to see some options for community owners to implement Adsense here.
John Mueller How about some honesty? The reason you're getting rid of authorship images is so the images won't take away from Google Ads. Blatantly lying to the public that removing authorship photos doesn't effect CTR is not very ethical.
+John Mueller The profile pic and # of circles seemed to be the only benefit of using authorship. Is there still a reason to setup authorship and/or is authorship a ranking factor?
+Christina S And since that image increases clickthroughs by as much as 150%, that's a big loss.
+Dan Shure that's not a logical conclusion. there are MANY other reasons to use Google+. Among them: communities, HOAs, integration with YouTube
+B.L. Ochman Does it increase clickthroughs? Very doubtful anyway. It's just that if I have to have an image it better be that ;)
+B.L. Ochman You could totally be right about that. There are definitely many other efforts G has gone though to integrate G+ with everything else. This just felt like the first step of something else, but for now I will take John's word for it and we'll see what happens :)
Meh, a fad, that's all. I don't set score on such studies. EVerybody and their uncle rehashes the same stuff. So maybe I'm different from 90% of people, but these pics don't inspire me, if anything they take up real estate better dedicated to a longer snippet.
Everyone, you can pitch a fit our just accept it and move on. For those of you that created a business around authorship you placed your eggs in a teacup. For the rest of you put your head down and go to work making your site secure. Go full https and think of that as the next ranking thing. If anything you will make the web safer.
Haha, I've seen at least one hacked site that used https LOL

Dude, it's not even about rankings. It's about Google constantly pushing new tools & features on us, encouraging us to use them, then once they have our data they take these things away.  It takes a certain amount of trust for people to invest their time & personal info into something like authorship in the hopes of improving the system as a whole, only to have it yanked out from under you. Again.

Yes we will move on, but the next time we are encouraged to participate in a new product people will be weary.

P.S. I like the show:-)
Gee whiz, Google tried something.  It kinda of worked but didn't totally work out they wanted or it was successful but their needs and priorities changed.  And they moved on.  Life Sux.  Get over it.  At least Google is trying to be innovative and engage their visitors/users.
Just like keyword data in Google my business that lasted all of 6 days. What was that about? I like Google just as much as the next guy, I just don't think everything they do is right. Corporations are not perfect, & if you are unhappy voice your opinion.
All that is going is the profile photo and the follower count. The byline remains and maybe that will become a quality indicator for users, it's at least an extra piece of information. For people like me with a low follower account and no boobs or blonde hair, this change is probably a bonus. :)

Contrary to some of the strange comments in this thread, authorship is not over. I don't think Google will ever drop authorship altogether. Hell will freeze over first.
Might be sexists, but Jim is right.  He doesn't have the hair or correct body parts to attract random attention.  Then again, if the profile photo has become beauty contest then your's truly (waving my hand in the air) has lost that battle as well.
Us old blokes have to stick together, +Stevie Dogwood. :)

+Matt Storms , I don't know what's come over you these days, mate, but I'll be waiting to greet you when you are ready to step back into the real world. :)
Google+ is a lot more valuable than just the author images. although I did like them. I think it could increase clickthrough rate. I know if I look for articles on a subject I am more likely to pick out one by an author I know if I recognize his image in the results.
+John Mueller I think the image and circle count was a very effective way to judge the trustworthiness of an article. I don't think it should be removed.
As far as CTRs are concerned, they were far higher for me and all other blogger friends I have. Mostly due to the trustworthy picture and a fair following we have - that used to appear beside our results.
Such a farce, "similar CTR" is not the reason you are removing it. Stop lying.... 
Do you have any data to show for difference in CTR? I do. Should I show you the difference?
I have been working to increase the engagement of my companies G+ plus and verifying authorships for our various websites. I dont understand whats the use now. It obviously effected the click through rate . Google along with all the big websites claimed it first. Whatever the reason you give, its such a waste of time.
Guys, a lot of us are real angry now, but what are we doing with it? Posting complaints in this thread? Can we do something to change the situation - and IT don't mean the specific pics+circles issue, I mean Google's general approach?

We all realize Google has more force than many governments have. And we expect democracy from our governments. Now - of course we should not expect democracy from a corporation, but I find it necessary that Google will be more commited to our concerns.

How can that be done? Well - first of all, we need to unite. We = the part of us who believe Google is being unfair/not ethical/not considerant with our community.

Where can we unite? I suggest we open a new community, and I'd also like to suggest a name for it: "Google Professionals Speak Up" or "Google Partners Speak our Voice", something like that.

I suggest we start a discussion about what we would like to achieve, and then see how we can achieve it. In this perticular issue waiving "threats" like "we'll leave G+" is not effective in my eyes. Google probably wants to shut it down anyways, and will be glad if the most enthusiastic people about it will leave and they'll be able to quietly bury it.

BUT - as a big community with a huge reach - we have a very strong influence on big Google dollars. Lots of us are Google Partners, lots of us are sort of evangalists for Google's most important products etc. And we have tons of followers/fans/friends/blog readers we can reach out to.

+Avner Pinchover Great idea, but I'm afraid it won't work. Me and Joseph Solares built the 2nd largest social networking community on here with close to 60,000 members (Strategic Social Networking), and Google could care less what any of us have to say. It doesn't matter to them unless it makes them money. We're all here so Google can cash in on Plus Post Ads. Where's our options to monetize? There are none!
why would Google do this? 
If it's free, you're the product. That's all. We are tenants...
+John Mueller You say your experiments have shown little impact on CTR without the photos. I assume you are referring to Google's CTR as opposed to an individual link's CTR. Many of us have experienced a big boost in CTR with the photos. Can you confirm? 
I had a thought on this. If the motive for removing author images from search results is a better quality experience on mobile devices then why not just remove the images from mobile search results? With all of the focus today on responsive web design I'm sure that Google could pretty easily have responsive search results that eliminate distracting author images from mobile search results while leaving them intact on larger screen devices. This is an obvious question and conclusion which I have not seen addressed here yet.
There is no doubt many people leveraged authorship markup to simply get their mugshot in the serps - which was very unfortunate. However, implementing authorship markup did not guarantee a cameo - the final outcome was supposed to be determined by the algos - which in my estimation - were flawed. Example: One of my clients, a surgeon, had authored several articles discussing new surgical techniques, and his profile pic was rightly displayed until the last authorship update, at which point it vanished. However, our main competitor, who clearly misuses authorship (e.g. site-wide markup and not a single bit of worthy content, rather, canned sales pitches) still has their profile pic all  over the serps, and enjoying unwarranted click-through rates. A travesty, to say the least. Perhaps this is G's way of leveling the playing field, again.
Those of you assuming that Author photos caused amazing (30-150%!!!) increases in CTR need to do some detective work on your sources.

If you follow back the links on all the blog posts proclaiming that, you come back to one study that was (imperfectly) testing CTR for all rich snippet results, and nowhere singled out Authorship.

So before you go calling +John Mueller a liar, make sure you really have some basis. The truth: we really had no concrete idea just how much "boost" effect author photos really had. While I don't doubt that in some individual cases it did provide such a boost, it is quite possible that in the big data picture, across all queries and on all platforms, that it was negligible.
+Mark Traphagen how can people not click on the search results when they see my face.  Come on, don't kid yourself.  People can't keep their eyes off me. ;-)
+Barry Schwartz   Just because your mug is prettier than mine doesn't mean peeps are going to want to click the same.... remember what Jim Munro said earlier... he doesn't have blonde hair and boobs to attract the clicks... and neither do you.
+Mark Traphagen I did see the back of his head in a video from a conference that he attended.... does that count?
+Stevie Dogwood as Barry customarily wears a yarmulke, we can never be sure if he is hiding a hideous bald spot. Furthermore, he has never used an authorship photo with the back of his head, which I see as further conclusive evidence that he is ashamed of it.

I have embraced my bald spot, and recently shaved the hair off the rest of my head so it could be in solidarity with the top. 
This had such immense opportunity for Small Businesses.  It's sad that this is being discontinued.  My niche is doctor websites, and the benefits were overwhelming.  
+Avner Pinchover True. There has to be a common platform where we can unite and express ourselves . Its Google playground but does not mean rules can be appended any time they want and we have no option but just to adopt. Somethings needs to be done.
+Barry Schwartz I used to click on the link which had your photo until I saw some of your other photos too :D :D . Just kidding. You sir are awesome.
Can't wait to see how this will affect the search results and ranking over time. I will surely miss having the profile photo though.
Based on your results, we should keep using the Authorship +Mark Traphagen? I was just about getting ready to remove the authorship from all our pages within our site (only keep it on our blog).
+James Faulkner absolutely no reason to remove it. It still works! And in his Webmaster Central hangout yesterday, +John Mueller assured us that they will continue to track all data from it as they have been.
I'm actually mixed up about that.
This is the death blow for Google authorship.... It's a pity.
The operative statement is to accommodate mobile devices. Google seeks to satisfy the lowest common denominator, a business card size screen. Can't mobile device users block images if they choose?

Saying "Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one." is gratuitous BS attempting to assuage the concerns of everyone with a web site. An image is a definite plus for any site on a search results page.

Is a bland phone book approach really "cleaning up the visual design? What about the YouTube images? Why are these still plastered everywhere?
I really love the new design! :) Best user experience ever! I couldn't stand anymore with all the faces which consumed too much ressources on my desktop. And it's great you kept the number of followers in Google Adwords on the top. I was really scared you might delete it.
+John Bermont
Totally agree with you, Mueller's explanation is completely illogical and doesn't directly address click-through behavior on results with an image displayed.

An example: "I've found my click-through behavior on DuckDuckGo is similar to my click-through behavior on Google. That is, I skim through the results and click the ones that seem most relevant."

But only one of those "similar behaviors" benefits Google.

Here's another:

"I've found my click-through behavior with AdBlock turned on is similar to my click-through behavior with it off. That is, I skim through the results and click the ones that seem most relevant."

Again, only one behavior benefits Google.

This is another hypocritical pronouncement from Google.

Google tells ecommerce sites to put more products on listing pages so they're easier to crawl. Google stays with 10 results on Google for maximizing ads above the fold.

Google "cleans up visual design" by removing author photos. Google doesn't like people "cleaning up their own visual design" by using AdBlock extensions to clean up websites and Google SERPs from serving ads.
MONEY-Google's ads loose money to pretty pictures like mine,,why is this so difficult to understand?  Hello adwords..for all you SEOs wake up and get certified (-;
+Gee Are Pabst
Not sure what you been smoking, but removing the images of authors is now where near the death blow for Google authorship, as there are so many extra Google Humming bird  SEOVI's added when you apply Google authorship to your work.

It is just such a pity that the black hat crew over emphasised the author image as the only reason to use Google authorship, and neglected to explain about all the related SEOVI (Search Engine Optimisation Value Indicators) that come along for the ride when you introduce Google Authorship to your work.

Google publisher should also be used, as Google author and Google Publisher work as a team to really add a serious boost to your long term SEOVI in a variety of areas whith the primary focus being that your semantic foot print is easily tagged and can then be used much easier to link your work together across platforms and thereby improve your SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages) considerably.
+Frank Gainsford Right! The presentation of Authorship is changing, but its not going away. Good point on using Authorship and Publisher together, I use both myself. Why not let people know your pages and communities exist? I like the way the badges display too, good work on Google's part there. Not happy about a few other things with Google though.
Gus O.
nei risultati di ricerca manca il rich snippet
We have a Google+ business page which is showing our author image!! Am I correct in assuming that this will take preference now? 
Not surprised to see G+ Content keeping the author image. That's Google telling me visibility and attention only come with using our own publishing network.
I'm sorry, English is not my native language and i don't know which other words than "bullshit" i could use when i read "Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one"
Why don't you give us a more credible version ?
My take on this is that the click-though rate OVERALL is not different - ie the % of searches which end up with the user clicking through to any result.

If taking away pictures means some searchers now click on a different search result than they would have previously then that may or may not be beneficial - it depends on whether searchers were being swayed by pictures and clicking on less relevant results.
+Frank Gainsford Regarding the Black hats you mentioned, if black hats do wrong things, why should white hats also get punished? Google should be more clever and should have a better idea to get ride of the black hats. The things Google is doing is to punish all authors, the good and the bad ones.
The Google authorship images were something unique other search engines like Bing and Yahoo do not have. Now it's gone.
+Mark Traphagen,  I have to disagree a bit.  There has been so much research done establishing a hard-wired affinity for detection of faces and it being an establishment of trust.  Google uses this in their own results ( to establish immediate reinforcement of a correct response.  Where does your eye go?

From Susan Weinchenk: "Although the visual cortex is huge and takes up significant brain resources, there is a special part of the brain outside the visual cortex whose sole purpose is to recognize faces. Identified by Nancy Kanwisher (1997), the fusiform face area (FFA) allows faces to bypass the brain's usual interpretive channels and helps us identify them more quickly than objects. The FFA is also near the amygdala, the brain's emotional center."

It is almost impossible for us to do a definitive test.  There is so much variation in serps with each page load, logged in or out, not to mention the variation that has been happening in the utilization of the authorship photo in the last many months.

If you look at this page here:, you will see that for a search of "lawyers in raleigh, nc" there is only one organic listing above the fold in competition with 10 paid,  directory listings, and map.  One chance to get a visitors attention out of 11.  Now look at:  A difference?

We have a lot of data on this but nothing formally released.  We emphasize the importance of high-quality photos with each client, because we get feedback from our client's clients that they made a determination to hire the attorney because he/she looked like someone I could trust.  They thin-sliced them.  

Now for anyone that has read Malcom Gladwell's book, Blink, there can be a negative to this as given by the Warren Harding error.  

What if the same rationale was made for the elimination of star ratings in the local listing because there was no "definitive effect on CTR" and they cluttered up the results.  After working with a client for a year to gain 5-10 reviews by telling them that the stars draw the eye and also demonstrate social proof for the visitor, you would feel pretty bad and look pretty bad to the client.

I know that there is much less work overhead in authorship markup, but really, the only reason anyone implemented it was because of the image.  Google even showed it off in their Rich Snippets tool.

I guess it would be nice to see actual data behind decisions like this when we are asked to spend time and money to implement the Google's suggestions.  I also want to note that "Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one" doesn't denote the context of the CTR change.  For the serp listing page in aggregate, or for an A/B test between 2 listings in the same position with the photo and without.

Sorry for the long post.  I really respect +John Mueller and we are really lucky to have him share information with us.  He goes out of his way to answer questions and is very responsive on G+ whenever anyone needs it.  It just seems like authorship was one of the only ways to stand out in the serp noise and now it is gone, and now I have to waste time explaining to clients that there was really no reason for it.
+JR Oakes thanks for that response, but if you've read all my posts on this issue you would see we really don't disagree.

I am not disputing that images are powerful, nor that they draw the eye. But as some of your own commenti indicates, the issue is more complicated than most people here seem to think.

I did a deep dive over the past few days, and I could uncover not a single study that actually proved that actual CTR was raised by authorship photos. I'm not talking about anecdotal stories about traffic increasing after getting an author photo in search. (BTW, there were also many accounts of traffic going down after authorship implementation, but no one cites those ;-) 

Rather I'm talking about the test no one could do: Testing the exact same result in the exact same SERP position for the same query with and without the author photo. That's the only test that would prove a CTR change, but it's an impossible one to implement (unless you're Google).

Again, I don't doubt for a minute that some people actually got a CTR increase from author photos. But we've never really known how much, nor had anyone established this increase was universal. That's my point.

And that's not even taking into consideration the possibility that over time as people got used to face photos in search, the effect might have worn off.
Thanks +Mark Traphagen ,  I was referring to:

"While I don't doubt that in some individual cases it did provide such a boost, it is quite possible that in the big data picture, across all queries and on all platforms, that it was negligible."

 I agree that there were some exaggerations about CTR here and I agree with you about the impossibility of testing such crazy claims in a way that would be meaningful.  I think the above is a little soft in terms of the impact.  There are somethings that we don't have to test to know that they are worthwhile based on experience and science.  I am in one of the most competitive niches and I have always seen Youtube videos exploited exponentially more than authorship.  I have seen the entire first page of Google filled with youtube videos for some terms.

Most decent SEOs are rightly pensive about tying anything potentially manipulative to a site.  Authorship is a fairly strong tie based on the comments of Eric Schmidt last year with his "the price of anonymity is obscurity" comment and also that you don't want people that follow you or your clients to think you/they are a scumbag.

I just thought when Google rolled these out that it was a benefit for the smaller authors and smaller businesses to stand out against the large brands with ad dollars and large audiences.  This, based on everything I have learned in the past 20 years of being a designer and a search marketer goes against everything I know in terms of drawing the eye and what people connect with to say that it has little to no impact on CTR.

You may be right in the aggregate of all searches and platforms that the effect could be minimized, but we all know there are different types of queries with differences in intent.  I think this does have an effect on the ones that matter.

Perhaps we will see a major change to the serp design in the coming months and there will be an aha moment as to why the author photos would no longer fit.

Thanks for the follow up.  I am sharing your write up with my team.
Thanks +JR Oakes. I think my point remains though. We can conjecture, we can surmise based on experience and intuition...but no one but Google knows. 
+Mark Traphagen Or they might return the image when authorship is more widely implemented.
Probably the smartest thing to do is unify all authorship and publisher verification under (Person, Organization), and then come up with a new type of property (socialPage). You could then verify any number of social pages that accept the standard by allowing for reciprocal linking.
I had noticed a few days ago that my authorship was missing my image on search results. I had figured it was something I had broken tweaking my site. Now I am learning about this change. Not too thrilled with the change. 
I'm no expert, but the change I've seen recently is that I'm getting rel_publisher pictures for my firm in the serp's (ie logo not rel _author faceshot). It may be because I'm logged in to g+ when searching, but I will test whilst logged out. The logos in the serp's may be old news (i don't know, I'm not a seo person), but I thought previously it was only author faceshot not publisher logos showing.
+Nicholas Corr we've already tested this. The "publisher" logo results are indeed new for US searchers, but have been in place in many non-US versions of Google for some time now. A few facts about them:

1. They only show in personalized (logged in) search.

2. They appear to only show for brands you have circled and with whom you have engaged.

We are also seeing author photos for G+ posts only on a limited basis with the same qualifications as listed above.
Thanks Mark, authorship markup has worked for ages for me to bring up the face pic and publisher only recently for logos. I'll re-test and make sure I'm logged out when searching. Disclaimer: I don't do seo, just find it interesting. 
Doh! I only got it working a few months ago!.

Oh well, at least its a fair table for everyone now as mine only showed up for me when I was logged in anyway!
This is a terrible decision. I click those links much more that other links. And why are we trying to make the PC experience rubbish because the mobile screen isnt big enough... Code for both devices, they are totally different, stop trying to cut corners, and do things properly! Terrible decision making from Google :(
I agree with you Andrew, it has been hard to implement, we only got it working recently as well. Very interesting move by Google. Tends to level the field for all publishers more it seems.
Hi John,

I know it is not your fault BUT this is a really good example of why I believe Google has lost its way.

Remember back and it's not very long ago ... there was a fanfare  about getting your picture on SERPS  ... how it was cool and helpful etc etc and then we all spent time trying to get it to work   .. Bombarding you with questions about it .... and then for some reason (and to be honest I don't buy the mobile one) it is dropped.

Personally I rather liked it .. gave a bit more of a community feel etc .. but I digress.

The reason why you haven't been seeing anything of me is that I realized I was spending nearly all my time chasing the next Google  idea.

Boy how many days on pagespeed did I spend? Not to forget microdata. And the lovely well thought out words for my SERP snippets were suddenly overridden by an algorithm that thinks it can do a better job and fails miserably Earning from  Adsense literally overnight plummet with still no reasonable explanation. .. list goes on 

So again I KNOW it's not you John and it was real fun putting in the markup .. following Matt Cutts's videos, hanging out with you on G+ etc etc ... but I can't trust Google not to change the game in blink of an eye. Not only can it, it does!

So I really envy you being paid to geek around with it all .. but as I eventually worked out I am better off concentrating on other things not chasing this week's  Google hobbyhorse.

As I said I am actually a  bit sad about it as it could be (and was) real fun... but it's a one sided game, with the big kid making and changing rules as he goes along. Which if you remember back to your schooldays will eventually mean that no one will end up playing with him.

Best regards,

+Mark Warner the best way to be resiliant with regards to algorithmic changes is to have a truely fantastic site. If you have the choice between making your website significantly better, or tweaking it to follow any new change, I'd always recommend focusing on your website first. Chasing algorithms is almost never the best use of time.

If you have time to implement new technical details, or if you're doing a redesign anyway, that's probably a good time to add those new elements. 
I noticed that this drop of G+ author images coincides pretty much exactly with a ruling by the EU that Google must not promote its own products over its competitors, is this a result of that action?
You are a gentleman as ever +John Mueller .. but you forgot to mention "create compelling content" tut tut :)

I would also say that in my opinion a site should always be being developed (technically I mean). So I think what I am saying is, it is a matter of development priorities and doing work on something that may well get pulled has to be weighed up when embarking on the next set of tweaks. 

Anyway, as it is my main site is 1/2 way there to being able to exist next to a hydrothermal vent :)
I am glad to see this, as too many people were leveraging this in a negative way by hacking authorship. 
No way! I have just spent the last month trying to figure out why my picture wasn't coming up! My competitors who had already had pictures coming up are still there. Will they continue to be there? Because otherwise its just not fair.
+Emmie Scott  - if you are logged in to G+, you will still see the thumbnails of people you are connected to, either following / them following you / added to circles, etc...
Ah, I see. Well this makes things more fair. As a small business you just try to find anyway to stand out amongst the rest. I will check out the videos. Thank you!
+Emmie Scott Im only a small business too and lucky enough (not) to work in the financial services where competition is very high... Ill be building a WP news site and adding videos there with lots of long tail keywords - Ill be able to create the time in a few weeks 
+Emmie Scott do you have a site up now? one which ranks? - if so Id like to see it before and after the video... 

Heres the clip from +Bobby Holland - Id use the same software for SEO purposes:
"absolutely! when you embed the video with Schema, you are add a series of tags to the video, just like with YouTube. Plus, you can title and description meta data as well - so yes, fully optimized for your keyword phrases AND embedded directly on your landing page"
Oh! Sorry, just seen the other half of your message. So now I just have to figure out what to make a video about!
yes - though it would be best to have the page ranked for a keyword and then build your video around that or at least SEO the title etc around that...
+Sean Wilkins - quite the contrary, I would NOT wait until the page ranks first to integrate a video using Schema.  Reason being, Schema helps tell Google what your page is about, so in turn can help in the process of building authority around your targeted keyword phrase
+Bobby Holland Im trying to create the time to revise my site to a WP one and add video - I presume WP would also help re SEO - heard good things re Genesis template - was thinking of using there news theme since its also nice and not too cluttered so I can add long tail and news
Good news , now micro formats tension finish.
I know we're all being cynical here re Google and CTR and removing pics to support paid ads - but lets face it no dosh no google so.... 
I just don't have time to read all these comments. I get the updates but its still overwhelming.  would THE REAL Mr. GOOglE, PLEASE STAND UP :)
Google I think you dropped the ball here. The photos were a winner.
But not a winner for google paid ads and hence not a winner for goole
+Tim Capper This has little to do with Google+ and more to do with their lose in ad revenue due to higher CTR of the natural search and lower CTR of those sidebar adverts. Obviously this will affect adoption of the Google+ platform but I'm betting G looks at that as an acceptable lose as it hasn't been that popular anyway!
+John Mueller "This change doesn't have anything to do with ads." But doesn't it step away from Google's claim or aim of trying to make search the best experience as possible?
+Andre van Wyk wouldn't it be extremely short-sighted to purposely degrade the quality of Google's most popular (I imagine that's the case) service? 
+John Mueller  If it was a trade off between revenue (which everyone insists is not the case) and user experience it would be a business decision, decisions public traded companies need to make.... I personally find that the search results are now lacking differentiation that I perhaps came to appreciate with the images.
This update is no bueno 😞 The profile pic helps me when trying to find and sort articles and posts from people I don't read regularly; I may forget the name of the author or the post title (or the title is too similar among a variety of authors) but remembered the face!
What happened to authority signals to help us decide what article to click on? Familiar and trusted writers deserve our attention. Despite the denials, perhaps the author profile image was drawing too much attention away from ads?
I appreciated the author pics, they helped my click decision. If I was to communicate that the new CTR "is similar without pics", I would try to hide that it's lower. Otherwise you might as well boast that CTR is higher without the pics. But they don't.
+Andrew Lang I believe that author pics were drawing too much attention - ie attention away from paid ads - Google needs to keep is paid customers happy which may make us cynical but hey no ads no google and no google no pics so... 
I think they finally figured out for the first time that if you provide something that people can use to get more traffic or better placements, that people are going to use it, and many will start spamming with it.

Dear Google,
Didn't you learn anything from trying to use links as a measurement tool for rankings? Anything that you use which can be detected by users will become a spam magnet.

The only thing that will work is to look at metrics using a time period and possible with weighted results that even if detected, makes the massive effort needed to spam fairly impracticable. Sure, there will still be those that spam, but don't they deserve something for all their efforts? I mean, does it really matter which \/iagra site gets high rankings as long as it's on-topic??
+John Mueller do you know if this affects the Google authorship stats? My stats have dropped by 75% in the last 3 weeks and I can't figure out why (and my apologies, if someone mentioned this in the comments above, but I read as many as I could and didn't see anyone else mention that). If you or anyone has any info, I would greatly appreciate it! 
Google is starting to get too impatient for its own good, and is starting to have big number sickness, where they don't care if they inconvenience or harm millions of people, simply because a million is a small number to them.  Do they even realize how people lose confidence in them every time they close a program that is working, but not perfect?  Sigh.
The link is dead. What is the current Google Authorship stance?
Don't remove your authorship tags from your websites just yet though.   Some of us are working on an authorship alternative since Google doesn't see its value.
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