Google has taken a step away from its integration of Google+ with its search results in favor of those using mobile devices to view the site. Google has ceased the inclusion of author profile photos and circle counts from Google+.
According to John Mueller, Google has ended the practice of displaying the photos and circle counts to allow for an easier mobile searching experience. The photos were taking up a good bit of real estate on small mobile screens. The images and counts have also been removed from other platforms to ensure a “more consistent design” regardless of the device used to view the search.
As part of the company’s efforts to integrate Google+ into its search engine, the former search result style would place the author’s photo and circle counts appear next to a particular search result. The result, according to Google, led to an increase in click-through rates and attracted the eye. However, the images and the space they occupy did not mesh with the company’s mobile-first approach to its design.
The new format features a simplified result style that still lists the author’s name and uses the same ranking algorithm as it did before. This creates greater uniformity among the results. Much like the old style, authorship is sticking around and there remains the possibility that authorship could play a future role in search engine rankings. The new style is giving the writer a byline in the search result. Profile photos have not vanished completely, rather they will continue to be a part, though considerably small, on Google News.
Here’s a simplified authorship result example:
Mueller said that tests on the streamlined links shows no major difference in click-through rates or visibility. However, Google hasn’t provided any statistics yet that show just how marginal the difference between the two styles may be — or not.
Some SEO experts are skeptical that the new style is equally effective without the visual to draw in new readers. In a number of webmaster forums and articles, there has been some concern that the once tried-and-true advice to claim authorship is beginning to seem like wasted time. Without clearer statistics, it isn’t clear if that will be the case, but the predictions are accurate that Google intends to use authorship and Google+ ratings to raise the search ranking for a website.
Ultimately, it will take time before anyone can be sure how this could affect writers and businesses that utilize Google authorship.