|Image: Peggy Webber in The Screaming Skull (1958)|
Now, don't panic. This isn't all that big of a deal to you.
What Does the End of Google Authorship Mean to You? Not That Much, Really
It means that your photo isn't going to be appearing in Google Search Results any longer -- but you already knew that, right? Google nixed the pix a couple of weeks ago.
It doesn't mean that your content doesn't count, or that it's going to have a negative impact on what you have written and published on your blog or web site. (Google testing per Mueller shows little if any impact on traffic to sites, for instance.)
Google Still Loves Schema
Schema -- e.g., the "article" coding for In Depth Articles and the "publishing" coding for Publishers -- that's still alive and well. It's really just your byline that gets hit; that coding for "author" that Google isn't that interested in following right now. From Mueller today:
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.And why is that? What nixed the "author" markup? From the stuff that I've read this afternoon on Google, among other things is the fact that not that many people search for what someone has written -- they're looking for content by subject matter most of the time.
Searching for Subject Matter - Not Much Name Dropping
Don't you find that true?
I mean, I search for "Peggy Noonan" because I love how she writes -- but how many writers do you search for in Google, just to read what they've written? Aren't you searching for subject matter too, anything from "Emmy winners" to "slow cooker chili recipe"?
Bottom Line Regarding Google Search and Google Authorship
Here's what I'm concluding today from Mueller, Enge and Traphagen, which is important: Authorship may be back in the future, but the important thing to recognize is Google is working hard toward "semantic search" overall.
If you want to know the future, learn more about the Google Knowledge Vault.
What is the Knowledge Vault?
Google's building a huge (HUGE) database of information for all of us to use. And use efficiently. It's called the "Knowledge Vault."
Google wants to be the best search engine out there -- to serve you; to keep you away from Bing and its other competitors. To do that, this enormous, mind-blowing amount of information that it is compiling in its Knowledge Vault will have to bring stuff to you that you want most in your search results.
From New Scientist, this explanation of the Knowledge Vault:
It promises to let Google answer questions like an oracle rather than a search engine, and even to turn a new lens on human history.
Knowledge Vault is a type of "knowledge base" – a system that stores information so that machines as well as people can read it. Where a database deals with numbers, a knowledge base deals with facts. When you type "Where was Madonna born" into Google, for example, the place given is pulled from Google's existing knowledge base.
This existing base, called Knowledge Graph, relies on crowdsourcing to expand its information. But the firm noticed that growth was stalling; humans could only take it so far.
So Google decided it needed to automate the process. It started building the Vault by using an algorithm to automatically pull in information from all over the web, using machine learning to turn the raw data into usable pieces of knowledge.
Semantic Search is the Next Step
So, Google is working hard to evolve its service to make things even better for all of us. This will be "semantic search" and the importance of quality content and good research will be even more important to blogs and web sites.
Beginning this year with Hummingbird, Google is moving past keywords and into "conversations" because Google has the ability now to comprehend and understand content (and searches) better.
Part of Google's success will involve the ability to discern reputable, trustworthy authors and experts so their work can rank higher in search results. Google will want this as opposed to reliance solely upon "human actions such as markup," as described by Traphagen and Enge:
As Google moves forward in its commitment to semantic search it has to develop ways to identify entities such as authors with a high degree of confidence apart from human actions such as markup. Recent announcements about Google’s Knowledge Vault project would seem to reinforce that Google is moving steadily in that direction. So this may be how it approaches detection.
Bottom Line: Keep Writing Great Content for Your Intended Reader
So, don't worry about this Author Ranking business, just keep writing great content. Target your intended reader. Support your work with links that you know are reputable and will stand the test of time (a NYT link will be there, a local blog is iffy).
And don't worry that your smiling face and your byline aren't being monitored right now. You're fine.