Google Authorship is Officially Dead, WordPress Authorship Plugins are Now Obsolete

John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, announced today that Google will be discontinuing its support for authorship in search results.

We’ve gotten lots of useful feedback from all kinds of webmasters and users, and we’ve tweaked, updated, and honed recognition and displaying of authorship information. Unfortunately, we’ve also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results.

In June 2014, author photos were dropped from search results in order to reduce clutter in the design, according to Mueller. Today’s announcement means that the rel=author markup will no longer be tracked on websites.

Google authorship in action
Google authorship in action

Authorship was an experiment that Google had been running for the past three years. Mueller reported that their tests showed that removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites, nor does it make it more likely that users will click on ads. The change was allegedly implemented to improve users’ experience.

Although the authorship schema is no longer used to identify a post’s author in search results, Mueller says there’s no need to be in a rush to remove it from your code. “We’re no longer using it for authorship, we treat it like any other markup on your pages. Leaving it is fine, it won’t cause problems (and perhaps your users appreciate being able to find out more about you through your profile too),” he said.

Jetpack 2.5 introduced an easy way for WordPress users to add authorship to posts. Representatives from the Jetpack team were not immediately available to comment on whether or not the plugin will shed the dead weight of authorship in the next release. There are many other WordPress plugins that add Google authorship, though not as elegantly as Jetpack did. Several major SEO plugins also incorporate ways to add authorship to posts. The authorship-related functionality in these plugins is now obsolete.

Mueller emphasized that even though authorship is being discontinued, Google will continue its support for structured markup:

Going forward, we’re strongly committed to continuing and expanding our support of structured markup (such as schema.org). This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we’ll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.

Many SEO specialists have speculated that linking authorship to Google+ profiles was a ploy to get more people to use Google+, a product that has failed to gain momentum. Fans of the authorship feature are baffled by its removal, given that Google’s research indicates that it doesn’t seem to affect search results. From a user’s standpoint, seeing an author you recognize can be tremendously beneficial when selecting among similar search results.

Google is well known for experimenting with features and products and killing them off as soon as tests show that they are no longer valuable. It’s not clear whether or not authorship will be reincarnated in some other form down the road. If you’re using a WordPress plugin that adds authorship to your site for SEO purposes, you are safe to disable it, as Google is no longer interested in that data.

30 Comments


  1. Thank you Sarah for the word. Time to start cutting and streamlining code!!!

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  2. The word on the street is that Google found Authorship was *too* successful: folks would only click on search results with the Google Authorship images.

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    1. That’s really interesting. Do you have any references that would collaborate that claim?

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      1. I appear to be at a loss at the moment, to be honest I don’t even recall where I heard that. Anecdotally, I found I was personally drawn to click on links with Author snippets more than the other search results, which is why the claim seems to jive.

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    2. I was one of those people. I pretty much only clicked the author links because they appeared more professional. Whether they were or not I couldn’t tell you.

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  3. I belive that is not a bad move from Google. Personally I never liked this feature.

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  4. Too soon to act on a so-called experiment gone bad…if that were the case Google +; is next on the chopping block.

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    1. I hope so! A lot of people only use it is because they feel their rankings will suffer without it. Horrible reason to use a social network.

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    2. “Google +; is next on the chopping block.”

      Funny you mention this, as I just tweeted the same thing. Finding it very difficult to trust Google at the moment.

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  5. I’m no Brad Pitt, so I kind of like the fact that my ugly mug will no longer be seen by the Google-searching masses. lol.

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  6. “From a user’s standpoint, seeing an author you recognize can be tremendously beneficial when selecting among similar search results.”

    Well put, there’s plenty of times as a web developer I have used someone’s profile image to go to them for advice on the topic.

    Also as a web developer, it’s nice knowing I’ve never implemented this feature for any of my clients, because I won’t be getting yelled at now.

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  7. I did hear it’s still useful for help in copyright/DMCA claims, and also if you have a Google Plus page, you can still link that to your website, can’t you?

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  8. I have to agree with Cecily -my first thought was, “what impact will this have on Google +”?

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  9. The full context of what they said was the benefit wasn’t worth the extra resources it took to process it. In addition, it still didn’t get good adoption (approx 30%) and many implemented it wrong. When Google tried to automate it, they ended up applying incorrect authors, the most famous one being Truman Capote to a NY Times article 26 years after his death.

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  10. Does make you wonder about G+. I could honestly do without it, because I don’t get much from it.

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  11. I hope Jetpack is not going to remove the feature. I quite like being able to display my G+ profile so easily on my site, regardless of Google authorship etc. It allows visitors to quickly click through and learn more about me.

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  12. “Authorship was an experiment that Google had been running for the past three years.”
    And we all took part in it by learning how to add it to our WordPress sites.

    Maybe @Derek is right…
    “The word on the street is that Google found Authorship was *too* successful: folks would only click on search results with the Google Authorship images.”

    A lot of wasted time and effort taking part in Google’s experiment!!

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  13. The big question still remains: Is Google Authorship a signal for ranking ?

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  14. I also only clicked on articles with an authors pic in the results. To me, if they took the time to implement Authorship, they took time to write a useful post.

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  15. Gotta love this move by Google! I’ve always thought this feature was unnecessary.. Less clutter = better.

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  16. Nobody is working harder than Google to be as evil as Microsoft once was. And nowhere is this more evident than Google’s threading of Google+ through everything the way Microsoft once threaded Internet Explorer through everything. Ironically the success of Firefox was due in part to how brilliantly bad IE was. To be fair, a lot of people do seem to like G+, but the manipulative ride Google has taken us on for 3 years is inexcusable.

    In a massive corporate manipulation of users Google launched Google+ and Vic Gundotra launched the now legendary “Nymwars” where he literally called for a witch hunt to out and ban pseudonymous users. At first even banning them from products like Gmail and Google Docs that they had been using for the previous 3 years. Meanwhile on the other front, we were all “forced” to adopt Google Authorship if we had any hope of anyone ever clicking on us in search results.

    Fast forward 3 years: Vic Gundotra is no longer with the company. The G+ “Real Name” policy is gone. And now Google Authorship is gone. After so much heavy handed manipulation, a giant, but quiet, “never mind.”

    We live in a new era of Virtual Feudal Lords, and if you aren’t going to pledge your allegiance to Google, then you’re going to have to pledge it to Apple or somebody else. Still, I hope we don’t get fooled again.

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    1. I wondered about that. Several of us had Gmail accounts that were the names of our podcasts, so there really was no personal information to supply to Google. It was all well and good until I thought it would be a good idea to have a G+ page for one of the shows, and was given all sorts of denials when I tried to set it up, saying that my personal info wasn’t valid, and I thought “well duh, it’s a podcast, not a person”.

      Then later jumped through more hoops converting a couple big sites to use Co-Authors Plus and Genesis Co-Authors Plus, to provide bylines and author boxes for guest authors (and their various social profiles) without needing to add accounts to the WordPress sites… so all that work will be for no search gain going forward? Nice.

      So, the witch hunt was the result of him being angry at being scammed by a Nigerian prince with a sweet deal for him or something?

      That said, I will be floored if Google kills off G+ before the kill off Feedburner… been waiting for them to ring that death bell for 2 years now.

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  17. Google: do no evil. Except when it comes to wasting people’s time with authorship and other stuff like that, wreaking havoc on small and large websites and the people that run them, killing advertising for the entire web (look what happened to ad rates when they got involved), and being as opaque as a large rock.

    Too bad Bing doesn’t provide serious competition.

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  18. More and more I believe that whatever Google does is an experiment. And whichever experiment they conduct, all are done with one common goal: more advertising dollars, for them.

    So maybe we should just en masse stop the craziness by implementing whatever Google announces as the thing to do and focus a bit more simply on common sense.

    just my 2 cents.

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  19. Not sure how I feel about this. I don’t think it’s going to affect me. Hmmm….

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  20. I wish and I believe authorship is not dead! Though Author Rank has went hidden, I find it is still worth to Google and it could just make sense to the readers in many ways.

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  21. There’s no change in traffic after Authorship died. I guess Google is right then. In my point of Google Authorship doesn’t have any impact on ranking and results.

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