Has the Authorship Purge Bottomed Out?

The screen cap below is from the +Moz MozCast Google Feature Graph for Authorship in SERPs. The Feature Graph tracks the occurrence of various special features of Google Search across a wide variety of sample queries.

As many of you know by now, over the past two weeks or so Google has begun to reduce the amount of Authorship rich snippets it shows in search, as Matt Cutts had promised they would do. For details, see my post at http://goo.gl/ViGqfZ

From the Mozcast graph, it looks like the purge may have finally bottomed out, which would mean I can finally start trying to do a final assessment of the damage.

If the Mozcast sampling is accurately representative of Google SERPs in general, we've had about a 3% reduction in queries showing Authorship results. Of course, the actual percentage of reduced Authorship results would be much larger than that, since many queries were showing more than one per SERP. At Pubcon this year, Matt Cutts hinted that it would be around 15%.
Bobby Bryant's profile photoPatrick Coombe's profile photoMike Haydon's profile photoRenee Girard's profile photo
Hopefully now Google will do a further reduction based on the quality of the authors themselves rather than just the quality of their websites.  
only thing that is kind of interesting is the fact that authorship isn't even fully "rolled out" yet for all users yet they are still cleaning them up.  one could only imagine how much "reduction" will be done once it is a free for all across the board.
Actually +Patrick Coombe I don't think it was being "rolled out" previous to this. It was available to all users; it's just that all users and sites did not meet whatever previous thresholds there were for displaying author photos. What appears to be happening with this change is simply a raising of the bar for whatever those criteria were, so that anyone who wasn't yet displaying before this month probably still isn't now, but a lot of people who had been no longer are.

I still believe this is fluid though. Though the bar to achieve what I'm now calling "first class Authorship" (a full rich snippet with author photo and byline) has been raised, I believe it will still be possible (just harder) to earn your way into that group.
Other than simply understanding that this is happening, I don't think it should necessarily change anything. We know that we need to build social clout (quality over quantity) and create content that readers engage with (shares /+1's). Regardless of how strict Google is in showing Authorship Rich Snippets, we still need to have it in place, and continue building it. I guess the hard part is the fact that some aspects of how Google ranks authors is still unknown.

I am writing an article right now that talks about how Google is limiting the number of Authorship Rich snippets are displayed. I argue that while it is not scientific, you will know when you’ve made it, when Google starts showing your photo in SERPs. 

I think the big leagues in term of Google; will be when you get your own Knowledge Graph. My goal is to beat the Bobby Bryant, from the Minnesota Vikings in the 1970’s. I can’t wait till my graph beats his, when I’m not logged into Google.
+Bobby Bryant I fully agree. Do yourself a favor and Google an article titled "Build Your Authority, Not Your Author Rank" by +AJ Kohn. It was written nearly a year ago, but with these recent changes to Authorship is now more important than ever. He makes the case that real author authority already exists, independent of any Google ranking scheme or SERP feature, and that any author can potentially gain it.

But if I am correct that from henceforth not only Author rich snippets but any sort of "author rank" that Google might bring into the search ranking algorithms will be for the cream of the crop only, then doing the things that gain you real authority online may eventually lead to you showing up in that group, but it should not be your primary goal or target.
It's interesting they explicitly used their regret algorithm for this.
By the way, it looks like the reduction has indeed ended, at least for now. The Moz Feature Graph has been relatively steady for Authorship for about 5 days now.
+Mark Traphagen Thanks for linking the article by +AJ Kohn. I've been reading his site for the last day. But I must say, I will need to read that article on building authority again. He packed a lot of information into that post.
+Mark Traphagen the regret algorithm is a program developed by Google to run "what if" scenarios on their search engine results. That's what Matt Cutts meant by saying they ran the numbers and if they removed up to 15% of the lowest quality, they'd improve their results.
Thanks +Mike Haydon. I was familiar with them doing that but just had never heard that name for it before. Thanks for teaching me something new!
Update: The Moz Google Features Graph has remained relatively steady at it's new level, so it looks like 19 December was indeed the end of the purge, at least for now.

Another curious thing though: I'm getting reports from some well-known authors who lost author photos in search in December and now have them back. Mid-course correction by Google?
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