The Ghost of Google Authorship

Don’t believe everything you read.  Not all the functionality of Authorship is gone.

ghostYesterday, Google confirmed that authorship is no longer supported in web search.  SEO pundit, Mark Traphagen says, Google finally kills authorship and co-penned a detailed article with Eric Enge, It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results with a tag line, Google has completely dropped all authorship functionality from the search results and webmaster tools.

However, this might not be the case.

The Ghost of Google Authorship

True, you can no longer sign up for Google authorship and the authorship photos, rich snippets, and bylines are gone from Google’s search results.  But there are still some traces of Google authorship functionality at work.

Have you ever heard SEOs debate search results.  Common questions are were you signed in to Google or was it an incognito search?  The reason we ask those questions is because we know that the search results can be heavily influenced by our social activity, especially the on Google Plus.  If we are signed into Google we are viewing personal search results which are influenced by our social sphere.  If we are not signed into Google we get a more pure search result with less influence by who we are or other social factors.

Let me show you an example and in the process point how authorship is still at work.

I logged into my test account named Jean and searched, “Matt Cutts and Author Rank”.

Here are the search results with one of my posts that says Al Remetch near the top.  The only reason this post is at the top of Jean’s personal search results is because she has me in a circle and Google thought that if she was interested in me enough to circle me, she might be interested in some content I created that was relevant to her search query.

search results Matt Cutts author rank

Jean is seeing my content because she has me in a circle.

However, if I turn off the personal or private search results and conduct the same search. my post is gone.

search results incognito

For sophisticated Gplussers this is nothing new.  It happens all of the time.  People in your circles can often see your content in their search results. But let’s look a little closer and see what is work here.

But what links my blog post to me?

And the answer is Google Authorship mark up.

Google Authorship Is/Was the Link from Your Content to You and Your Followers

If it wasn’t for my Authorship Markup, Google would have no precise way of connecting my content to me.  But because I had implemented Google authorship markup, Google knew this content was mine and knew that Jean had me in a circle, and as a result placed my content near the top of her search results.

If Google Authorship had not been implemented it would have not been as easy for Google to connect the content to me and show it in the search results to the people that have me in a circle.

Fortunately this aspect of Google Authorship or at least its functionality is still intact for content created before Google phased out Authorship markup.  And I haven’t tested if the relationship between me and my content still exists which will allow people who are following me to see my content in the search results.  This post will be a test.

Maybe Google has figured out another way to connect an author’s G+ profile to their content or maybe it is a remnant of Google Authorship and all of it’s functionality isn’t gone.  Although this might not sound that important now, it could have extreme ramifications in the future.  It would be very interesting if the people who implemented Google Authorship now have the edge over those who didn’t by providing a conduit for their content to their Gplus profile and onward to the people who have them in a circle.