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Author Photos in Google Search no longer appearing

Author Photos have been removed from Google Search Results

Back in September 2013 we wrote a post on how to get your Google+ photo displaying alongside your search results using Google Authorship. It detailed how to link your WordPress Blog to your Google+ profile so that information from your profile and your Author Photo (Google Profile Photograph) showed alongside your search result.

So why did Google decide to remove the Author Photo from search results?

Google have now decided to remove the Author Photo from search results. In a post on Google+, John Mueller describes how Google have been working to clean up the visual design of their search results.

We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we’re simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count.

So how are author photos changing?

The announcement means that the author photo in most Google search results will no longer display. Up until now, if you verified your authorship through Google+ and Google chose to display it, you may or may not have seen your author photo display to the left of Google search results along with your Circle Count. It was always a little hit and miss and sometimes it would show your image, other times it wouldn’t.

In the future, Google only plans to display the Author Name in the search snippet. Goodbye author photo and Circle Count.

Here’s a screenshot showing how the search results looked before and after the author photo and Circle Count have been removed.

Author Photos have been removed from Google search results

What isn’t changing?

Authorship is still here
Nothing is changing and Authorship is still well worth setting up on your Blog.
See our detailed guide on How to set up Google Authorship on your WordPress website

Authors names still appear in search results
The authors name remains as a click through link to their Google+ profile page

Rankings don’t change
Authorship didn’t have any bearing on your search rankings, just how the listing looked. Your rankings will remain the same

Rules for verifying authorship are still the same
Nothings changing in the way you set up or verify your website & Google+ authorship.

 

Is Google Authorship still worth doing?

Yes!

We imagine that for many, having your author photo displayed alongside your listing was the be all and end all of Google Authorship and now that your author photo has been removed, the number of sites verifying Google Authorship will drop.

Even with the photos removed we still think that it is worth while going to the trouble of setting up authorship as you still get a click through link to your Google+ profile and who doesn’t want to see their name show up alongside your search listing?

And who knows what Google might have in store for us in the future. Maybe author photos might make an appearance again or authorship may play a bigger part in listings so we still advise all of our customers to spend the time and get Google Authorship set up.

But the Author Photos are still there!

Hold on one minute…

It seems that Google has only removed the Author photo from external sites listings. 

The decision by Google to remove authorship images applies only to external sites, like yours and mine. Google+ posts are still showing the author photo for logged in users.

This news is huge and Google+ has all of a sudden become very very important to SEO. But before you rush over to your Google+ account and start posting there are few caveats. Firstly you have to be logged in to Google and viewing personalised results. But hey, this applies to anyone who has a Google account and logs in. So that’s anyone who uses Webmaster Tools, Google Docs, Google Calendar etc etc. But, and here’s the downside to this. These authorship results displaying an author photo are based on your personal Google+ network so only posts related to your search query by people in your Google+ network will display the author photo in the search results.

Even with these limitations this is still huge and shows how much importance Google+ plays. So, if you haven’t got a Google+ page and don’t post to it regularly… What are you waiting for?

Google My Business verification now instant

Google My Business verification is now instant with Google Webmaster Tools

Google My Business verification is now instant. According to an announcement on their forums, from today you can now instantly verify your business listing if you’ve already verified your business website with Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Employee Jade Wang posted the following:

Good news — starting today, if you’re verifying a page for your business, you may be instantly verified on Google My Business if you’ve already verified your business’s website with Google Webmaster Tools. The verification will happen automatically, if applicable, when you attempt to verify a page for your business.

If you’d like to try instant verification, please make sure you’re signed in to Google My Business with the same account you used to verify your site with Webmaster Tools

Not all businesses with websites verified using Google Webmaster Tools will have instant verification, since not all business categories are eligible. If that’s the case, please use one of our other methods of verification (https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778).

In the past verification had to be done via a Postcard. You created your business listing, entered your business address and Google would send you a Postcard in the post with a PIN number that you entered to verify you are where you said you were.

Now this can all be achieved instantly if you have already verified your business’s website with Google Webmaster Tools and if you haven’t, shame on you as it it’s a very powerful tool for all Webmasters.

How do I verify my Google My Business page?

Make sure you’re signed in to Google My Business with the same account you used to verify your site with Webmaster Tools. Note that some business categories may not be eligible for instant verification.

Once you’ve verified, you may see a banner asking you to review your information and make any final changes.

Click Done editing when you’re certain everything is up to date.

Note that you won’t be able to update the business’s name until the verification process is complete.

Google Pigeon Update – Boosting Local Search Results

Google Pigeon Update

As of yesterday (27th July 2014) Google has released a new Search algorithm which is being called the ” Google Pigeon Update”.

The new Google pigeon update is providing more useful, relevant and accurate local search results tied to traditional ranking signals. The changes (currently live in the in the US but rolling out World Wide) are available in Google Maps and search results pages.

The behind the scenes changes are impacting local search results and some businesses are noticing changes in their local rankings.

Google have said that the new local search algorithm is tied deeper into their search capabilities and includes hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search as well as features such as Knowledge Graph and spelling correction. In addition the new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking. Basically, local search is the new King!

The new algorithm is currently rolling out for US English results and is providing a more relevant experience for local searches, and lets be honest, most of our searches are for local business so this update is really going to improve your results. Expect to see changes over the next few days as well as local directory sites getting better visibility in Google’s search results.

Local Directories

We all know how important local directory sites are for search results even if some of them don’t seem to push any business your way (Yelp anyone?) But there is a fine line between adding your website to directories and suffering from a Google penalty if they deem you are spamming listings.

 

 

Referral links – Don’t get obsessed with search rank

Are Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) the be all and end all of your SEO campaign? Are you obsessed with that No1 spot? Always checking to see if you’ve moved up a slot for your chosen keywords? Are you overjoyed when you move up a spot and slide into depression when your ranking slips?
Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Like you, we probably spend far too much time worrying about where we rank and not enough effort creating good quality referral links.

Well maybe it’s time to ease off and think about referral links?

Referral links, or backlinks are, according to some industry experts, the most important factor in SEO. A link to your site basically means that someone has said “hey, this content is interesting enough for me to want to link to it”. A link from a good quality referring site is probably worth more than a hit on a search engine.

For example, say you were running a website selling aquatic shrimp and Pets at Home added a link to you on their site. The benefits of that referral link are huge and you may get more conversions to sales than if you showed up in a search on Google for “shrimp for aquarium”.

Similarly, visitors referred from your local Aqaurium shop’s website might spend more than someone who found your website on Google because the referring website lends authority to your site.

So will any referral link do?

No.

You are looking for links from good quality, trusted websites that are relevant to your content. One thousand links from automotive sites will not do your shrimp business any good! Ten links from relevant websites are worth far more. So much more since on the 22nd of May 2013, Google rolled out Penguin 2.0, an update to their search and ranking algorithm which penalised unnatural & manipulative inbound links.

What this means is that Google is targeting businesses who have been building huge numbers of links from non-relevant or poor quality sites. Companies across the world who had been employing SEO agencies or an intern to spam links to their website suddenly saw their sites being penalised and losing ranking.

What makes a poor referral link?

  • Links on poor quality sites
  • Sites that aren’t relevant to your business or content
  • Paid links
  • Keyword rich links
  • overly optimised links

How do I check my referral links and how do I know if I’m being penalised?

Log into your Google Webmaster Tools and in the left hand menu select Select Search Traffic and then Manual Actions (we’ve written a blog post about this before: Has Google penalised my website?) If you don’t see anything then you are ok. If you do then you need to look into the issue further.

An excellent site for checking your backlinks is ahrefs.com it’s free for up to 5 searches a day and gives you a wealth of information about who is linking to your site.

Use ahrefs to check your referral links

The free version only gives you so much information on backlinks but you can quickly see which domains are linking to you and their domain rank which is a score of how trusted they are. If you spot a lot of links from untrustworthy sites then it’s time to try and get rid of them.

Google Webmaster Tools also shows referring links but we find the ahrefs.com website to provide more indepth information and to be easier to use.

What makes a good referral link and how do I get them?

You should be thinking of referral links as sources of traffic and not just a way of improving your search ranking. If your content is interesting enough, the referral may get picked up by other sites, syndicated and repeated on Social Media sites, all adding to the potential traffic.

Write good quality, relevant and preferably unique (but this can often be difficult) content on specific topics that people will be searching for and wanting to read. Then you want to share this on Social Media sites: Tweet about it, Post on Facebook, add it to StumbleUpon and post on Google+.

It’s no longer about link building but earning links…

Long, informative posts are now seeing benefits since Google’s ‘In-Depth Articles’ Algorithm Update a few weeks back which is boosting in-depth content so it may be worth writing longer posts between 1000-2000 words.

You should also consider some way of allowing others to quickly and easily share this on their favourite Social Media sites. We use the Flare Plugin but others are available and these make it easy for readers to quickly share your content which has the benefit of increasing your audience and also creating referral links!

Allows users to easily share your content

Within a month of writing more content we have seen our traffic rocket as our articles get picked up by other sites and the number of referral links increases. As an additional benefit we have also seen our organic search traffic rocket by 250% and that’s not to be sniffed at.

Now when we log in to Google Analytics our traffic sources pie chart is starting to look a lot more healthy but there’s still work to be done on increasing the referral traffic. But at least we don’t have to worry so much if we drop a spot in the search results pages as our referral traffic is now providing 34% of our total traffic.

Google Analytics Traffic Sources

Bing’s cheeky response if you search for Google

Bing: Searching for “Google” results in a pop up advert for Bing

Typical of Microsoft. Rather than spend time and effort making your product better than everyone elses. Use childish tactics instead.

Microsoft have been running their Bing it On campaign for a while now to try and tempt people away from Google and over to their Search Engine. The idea being a direct comparison test where you would enter a search query and then decide which results you liked. Reminds us of the whole Coke vs Pepsi challenges of years gone by.

Now they have decided to make it even more obvious by displaying a pop up when you search for Google!

Try this. Visit Bing, (here’s the url as you more than likely never use it: http://www.bing.com/?cc=gb) and type the word Google into the search box.

And look at what you get.

Bing resorts to cheap tricks when searching for Google

Microsoft just can’t help themselves. Childish idiots