Google Authorship is Google’s attempt at rewarding content creators who buy into their vision of a web filled with quality content.

The idea behind the project is that good writers, and the authority sites they write for, will be rewarded with higher SERPs and increased exposure in search results. It’s an ambitious idea that’s required a few adjustments from Matt Cutts and the SEO overlords on his Webspam team along the way.

In December of 2013, Google introduced a significant tweak to the Authorship in the form of reduced exposure. Though this move probably doesn’t sound like much of an improvement for authors, its long-term impact could be pretty positive.

So what do the changes look like? For starters, Google has reduced the number of Authorship results, and the length of rich snippets by about 15%.

As Cutts explained in a speech at Pubcon in Las Vegas last October, the move was designed to concentrate quality in the Authorship program:

It turns out if we reduce the amount of authorship we are showing by just about 10 or 15 percent, we’re radically able to improve the quality of the authors that we show. Which is another nice signal for those searchers and users who are typing into Google and say, ‘Ah, I see this picture, I see this person is an author. This is something I can trust.’

What Cutts didn’t mention during his speech, but became pretty clear over the course of this year, is that the Authorship reductions would be based more on the authority of the sites, rather than the Authority of the author.

In practical terms, that’s meant that the same author might appear with a full snippet and photo in results for stories that come from authority sites; but might wind up with just a short snippet in descriptions of articles from less credible sources.

SEO media sources have also concluded that factors, such as how many Google + followers an author has, do not seem to impact whether they’re impacted by the Authorship reduction or not.

So what can content creators, and the web publishers they work for, do to increase their chances of getting the full Authorship treatment?

Because it’s Google-related there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution, but some sources suggest that adjusting your content strategy to closer match the sort of content that Google seems to be favoring.

It’s also suggested that content creators make certain that their Google + profile has been filled out completely.

In short, web publishers who want to take full advantage of Google Authorship need to really stay on their toes in 2014.


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