The Incredible, Vanishing Authorship Program -- Step Right Up, Folks!

Google's Authorship program has been a bit of a circus lately. First, author photos were dropped from search results and now this: it seems as though author stats have gone missing from Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).

Author stats used to be available in GWT under the “Labs” section – but that’s no longer there. 

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Image source: Glenn Gabe on Google+

Glenn Gabe at G-Squared Interactive posted this find to Google+ earlier this week and others confirmed they were seeing the same. Some speculated it could be a bug -- in 2012, author stats went missing for a period of time when Google said it was fixing an issue-- while others say this move was only a matter of time, given the sequence of events around Google+ and Authorship lately. 

Launched in 2011, author stats was a way publishers could track impressions and clicks of their content across the Web. Some say that the loss of key Google employee Vic Gundotra, who headed up Google+, is an indicator the product and its associated initiatives could be on the chopping block. 

But Google denied this. A TechCrunch report said: 

What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter. A Google representative has vehemently denied these claims.

On Gabe’s Google+ post, AJ Kohn of Blind Five Year Old had this to say about vanishing author stats:

“Not surprised at this. Probably just an oversight as they unwind the Authorship hoopla. Author Rank is still viable but it will be done through the use of entity identification and extraction coupled with other signals (i.e., linked entities, engagement, sentiment). But that's a long way off in my view since the entity work is just now starting to hit its stride.” 

Kohn referred to this article (among others) to supplement the conversation around entity identification.

When Google dropped author photos in search results, it cited a streamlined look and feel for the SERPs across devices as the reason, subsequently saying the move did not alter click-through rates (although some argued this point with data). 

But that wasn’t enough for marketers to give up on the value of Authorship, and Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting posted a response on Moz, highlighting the benefits it still had. 

However, with this latest move, the community is left wondering what the fate is of the incredible, vanishing Authorship program and if it will be nurtured at all by Google in the coming months. 

So far, references to author stats still exist on the Authorship page, but it could be that Google hasn’t coordinated efforts to remove this information yet. 

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