On June 25, 2014, Google's John Mueller made a shocking announcement: Google would be removing all author photos from Google search results. According to the MozCast Feature Graph, that task was fully accomplished by June 29.
In this post I will:Give a brief overview of how Google Authorship got to where it is today.Cover how Google Authorship now works and appears in search.Offer my take on why Author photos were removedInvestigate the oft-repeated claims of higher CTR from author photosSuggest why Google Authorship is still important, and speculate on the future of author authority in Google Search.A Brief History of Google Authorship
The Google Authorship program has been my wheelhouse (some might say "obsession") since Google first announced support for Authorship markup in June of 2011. Since I am both an SEO and a content creator, Google certainly got my attention in that announcement when they said, "...we’re looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results."
Of course, in the three years since that blog post, many search-aware marketers and content creators also jumped on the Google Authorship bandwagon. Occasional comments from prominent Google staffers that they might someday use author data as a search ranking factor, along with Bill Slawski's lucid explanations of the Google Agent Rank patent, fueled the fire of what most came to call "author rank."
Below is a video from 2011 with Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson explaining the possible significance of Authorship markup for Google at that time:
During the three years since Google announced support for rel