Google Authorship Picture Disappeared

**UPDATE – 24th January 2014**

Whilst authorship still does not work for my own author profile, an author I invited to write a post on Bing Webmaster Tools SEO Tips has now had his author picture showing for that article on my website in Google’s Serps:

google authorship now working

Jimmy Mccann’s (a more established author) photo now displays in the SERPs for the article he wrote for my site

In the meantime, my authorship picture is still not being displayed since Google removed it as part of their clamp down on authorship spam.

The conclusions I draw from this is that Google’s algorithm for determining whose picture gets to show and whose does not primarily relates to the strength of your individual authorship authority. The authority of the website however must have some influence though because my authorship does not show for my own website but does for other more established site’s I have written for.

So it looks like for me, I need to get more people to join my Google Plus circles to build up my authorship. Maybe with time, I will have enough people in my circles for Google to reward me with my authorship picture for my own site that was wrenched away from me!

If you are reading this, maybe you could help test that theory by adding me to your Google Plus circles, you can do that here on my Google Plus link. I try to write useful SEO related articles which I announce through my social media channels so please give it a go, if not just to read something new and SEO related!

Original article now follows below:

So a few days ago, my Google Authorship profile picture disappeared from my website listings. This is what pages of my website used to look like in the SERPs until very recently:

colin Docherty Google Authorship Serp

What my SERPs looked like until recently

Yep, very pretty and very proud to have my face displayed in the SERPs.

However, this is what the same result looks like now:

No Google Authorship Image

Now my webpage results have no Google Authorship image

To begin with, I thought this was just a blip by Google and that it wouldn’t be too long before the profile picture returned to my pages. However, a week later and still no joy.

The first thing I decided to check was whether there was something wrong with my webpages which I did by pasting the URL into Google’s Rich Snippet Testing tool but as you can see from the below image, all is as it should be:

Google Rich Snippet Testing Tool

According to Google’s rich snippet testing tool, all is as it should be

So I’m fairly certain that whatever has happened, it isn’t to do with any changes I’ve made to my site recently.

My curiosity has been sparked further by the fact that my authorship image still displays in the SERPs for articles I have written on other sites. These sites are significantly more established and authoritative than my own so could it be that Google doesn’t see my site as being trustworthy enough to display authorship profile pictures in its SERPs?

google authorship displays for PR4 site

Authorship Profile still shows for PR4 domain

Authorship picture still shows for PR5 domain

Authorship Profile still shows for PR5 domain

This is interesting as we know Matt Cutts recently said at Pubcon in October that Google was planning on reducing the percentage of rich snippet enabled results in its SERPs by around 15%, most likely to counter the increasing spamming of rich snippets such as fake reviews.

So could it be that Authorship was included in that 15% and that Google is targeting sites it doesn’t trust as much rather than the authors themselves? It makes total sense to me that Google limits the display of rich snippets in its SERPs to only the most trusted of sites and that you have to work hard on your site over a period of time to build up sufficient trust before being rewarded with rich snippets. However, in the case of Google Authorship, I think this is the wrong way around.

For example, if I manage to get Rand Fishkin to contribute a post to my site and that the article is tagged correctly with this authorship data, is that not a signal itself that the site (or at the very least, the page) is an authoritative and legitimate piece of content? As an author, I would want anything I publish on the internet to be associated with me and Google Authorship is a good way of doing this. Seeing an author’s profile picture that you trust next to a search result of interest gives me confidence that despite what particular site the post is on, it will be a quality article that I can place trust in and by extension, trust in the website publishing the content too.

If Google has decided to only display authorship pictures for sites that it trusts, even if well established and trusted authors are contributing to that site, it seems more than harsh to me that that site does not get the benefit Google Authorship pictures in the SERPs having been able to get established, respected and trusted authors to write for it.

I am going to test my theory in the coming days by inviting some more established authors (yet to see their profile pictures disappear) to contribute some content to my site. If their profile picture does not display in the SERPs for the content, then my theory will be confirmed. If it does, well, I’ll have learnt something along the way!

I guess maybe I need to continue building up my Google Plus profile as well. I have noticed for sometime that none of my posts have the “in xxx circles” text that you see on most other listings with an authorship profile (see comparison pictures below). Could it be that for those that don’t have enough people in their Google Circles, your authorship picture doesn’t show? I know that I am only in 10 other people’s circles. Is there a minimum you need to be in before Google recognizes that you are a person with something interesting to say and that they measure this by the number of people who have added you to their circles? Kind of makes sense I guess.

Jimmy Mccann of Search Laboratory is in 139 Google Plus circles and Google displays this information against pages of his site

Jimmy Mccann of Search Laboratory is in 139 Google Plus circles and Google displays this information for any page he has authorship marked up for

 

7 thoughts on “Google Authorship Picture Disappeared

  1. Cornelius Quiring

    I’ve had this exact same problem happen to my site and it happened at roughly the same time as you. My site too is fairly new and no doubt lacking ‘authority.’

    Any updates on your end and did getting some contributors make a difference?

    Reply
    1. Colin Post author

      Hi Cornelius,
      As it stands, my authorship pictures have not returned – Strangely, my colleague contributed a post to this site and his authorship picture does not appear for his post on my site in the serps despite being correctly marked up and his picture showing for other posts he has written for other sites. I guess with only one established guest author to my site, I’ve got a long way to go before my site has the authority in its own right to display the pictures but I think its a shame that of all the rich snippets that are being spammed (review rich snippets come to mind), authorship seems to be the most notably hit and on genuine albeit small sites. I’m working on building up my Google Circle as well but again, this will take time.
      Let me know how you get on!

      Reply
  2. Jason

    Hi, I think you are misunderstanding. It’s the authority of the DOMAIN not the authority of number of followers on your G+ Profile. Sorry, but I tested this out, I bought 500 G+ followers and it made no difference. Pretty sure it’s to do with the authority of the domain, only. A shame!

    Reply
  3. Adam Beaumont

    Good post. The same has happened to me and my click through rate has dropped significantly as a direct result.
    I personally think it is all to do with the Domain Authority so I am trying to get high quality links to my site and hope that makes the difference.

    Reply
    1. Colin Post author

      Hi Adam,
      I agree, I am convinced it is to do with DA now having seen my authorship work on more established sites but not my own.

      Reply
  4. Jane

    Thanks for this. The good news for you is that this post is the top of SERPS when I googled “why doesn’t my google authorship appear in SERPS”! Having recently been claiming authorship on everything I’ve ever written, I’m wondering whether I’ve been wasting my time. For what it’s worth I’ve added you to my circles, perhaps you could add me back…

    Reply

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