Google Drops Authorship

by Brent Carnduff

“. . . we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results.”

~ John Mueller, Google, August 28, 2014

the end (of authorship)

Photo by peddhapati – flickr CC

If you’ve had “set up Authorship” on your to-do list (you’re apparently not alone), you can cross it off. Yesterday, in a G+ post, Google’s John Mueller announced the end of Google Authorship markup.

First introduced in June of 2011, Authorship was designed to connect authors to their content with the goal of identifying industry authorities, and eventually influencing search rankings.

According to a detailed article on Search Engine Land, It’s Over: The Rise & Fall of Google Authorship for Search Results, Mueller gave two reasons for the failure of Authorship:

  1. Low Adoption Rates: Many authors and webmasters either didn’t bother setting it up, or set it up incorrectly when they did.
  2. Low Value to Searchers: the addition of author markup in the search rankings didn’t significantly affect searcher click through rates – apparently searchers saw little additional value in the listing that displayed authorship.

In his announcement, Mueller did say that searchers will continue to see G+ posts from people in their circles when the post is relevant to the search query.

Is this the end of authorship? Probably not. The idea of Google identifying area authorities, and using that as a search signal is too intuitive. I would expect to see another iteration on authorship from Google at some point in the future. For now . . .

“Going forward, we’re strongly committed to continuing and expanding our support of structured markup (such as 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.”

~ John Mueller, Google, August 28, 2014




Photo by ZeroOne – Flickr CC

Late last month, Google announced an update to the Local Search algorithm – unofficially dubbed the ‘Pigeon’ update – that significantly impacted Local Search results and optimization strategies.

However disruptive the changes were to some industries, what has become apparent during the past month is that more changes to Local Search are likely on the way.

Google continues to experiment with different options, many of which seem to be related to an improved mobile search experience, and/or increased revenue opportunities for Google.

Pigeon Recap

The impact of the initial Pigeon update on Local Search was to:

  • add some industries to the Local Search Results (website design, SEO)
  • remove some industries from Local Search Results (real estate, DUI Lawyers)
  • increase the visibility of online directories (Yelp, Craigslist)
  • decrease the number of searches that result in a 7-pack (list of 7 listings), instead returning more 3-packs
  • tie Organic ranking signals more closely to Local Search results (i.e. keywords, backlinks)
  • shrink the radius from which they draw data, making the results more relevant to the user’s location

Pigeon Sightings

In the month since the Pigeon announcement, accounts of changes to, and experiments with, local search continue to be reported.

Serving Multiple Communities from One Location

Greg Stewart of 15miles Local Marketing, reported  seeing local search 7-pack results that included listings for a plumber not physically located in that town.

Although this occasionally happens when the market is small and there are not enough “local” options to fill the 7-pack, in this case the “local” market listed more than 100 plumbers. In addition, the plumber started showing up in the local search results for other surrounding communities as well.

A review of the plumber’s website revealed a “communities served” list in the footer.

Greg took it a step further, testing a “communities served” list in the footer of his website, and a different “communities served” list in the “introduction” section of his Google+ Page. The result was that he started showing up in Local Results for terms from either list.

Google Targets Local With Latest Algorithm Update

Local Search Ads

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable found local pay-per-click ads under the heading “Stores for gas grills near you”, that resembled the organic local listings – including the Google Map!

New Google AdWords Local Format Test

Local Listing Get More Mobile Friendly

Mike Blumenthal of Understanding Google Places & Local Search, and Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide both shared images of 3-pack local results that included little text, lots of white space, and images – similar to the look of the mobile display.

Mike Blumenthal noted that the new display was apparently in place of the Carousel results.

Google Testing Carousel Replacement by Mike Blumenthal

Google Local Desktop SERPs Continue to Get More Mobile by Andrew Shotland


Although most of the more recent pigeon sightings appear to be tests rather than actual algorithm changes at this point, if you do serve surrounding communities, it make sense to add a “communities served” list to your footer or sidebar, and to your Google+ page.

These are very interesting (and volatile) times for Local Search, with apparently more changes on the way.

What changes have you notice in local search since the Pigeon update?


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