google logo officeInvested time and money into Google+ Authorship in the past could of years? You’re not alone.

Among the search engine optimization community, Google+ Authorship (where your Google+ profile image, byline, and Google+ circle count appears with your article links in Google search results) has been a top priority. For years, Google has touted the benefits of associating the content you publish online with your Google+ profile by setting up Google+ Authorship, and while Google never admitted it, there was a great deal of speculation that Google would use Google+ Authorship in its search ranking algorithm in the future.

Unfortunately—-as is usually the case with chasing Google—things have changed. Last month, Google announced that it was testing click-through rates on search results without Google+ Authorship photos. Contrary to multiple previous announcements, Google now claims that click-through rates are unaffected when the photos are removed.

Citing its goal to create a less-cluttered design that would work across devices (although more likely a way to keep advertisers happy who experienced lower click-through rates after those Google+ photos started appearing in search results), Google announced that Google+ profile images would be removed from search results. As a result, content publishers’ strategies that once focused on Google+ Authorship are shifting (again).

Going forward, Google+ Authorship won’t get your picture in Google search results, but your byline will still appear. Furthermore, there might still be value in Google Author Rank which is associated with Google Authorship. Many SEO experts believe that Google Author Rank will be used in Google’s search algorithm in the future speculating that the rank could help Google identify authoritative sources that deserve higher rankings in search engine results.

What Does This Mean for Authoritative Content Publishers?

For Authoritative Content publishers, Google+ Authorship was a natural fit. What better way to build your brand persona and online reputation as a quality publisher of useful and reliable content than by having your byline, photo, and Google+ circle count appear in Google search results?

Now that Google has lifted its requirement that people must use their real names in their Google+ profiles, you can imagine the types of names and profile photos that could start popping up in search results. Long story short, the short-term value of Google+ Authorship has definitely plummeted, but if it’s true that Google will eventually consider Google Author Rank in its search algorithm, there is certainly still value in claiming your Google+ Authorship and associating your Authoritative Content with your Google+ account.

Keep in mind, this is Google we’re talking about. Things could change tomorrow. My best advice—stop chasing Google and focus on building sustainable, organic growth. That’s how to survive in the long-term.

Image: Robert Scoble licensed CC BY 2.0