Four Reasons Your Google Authorship Photo Has Disappeared

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NOTE: Google recently indicated that they will no longer display authorship photos. However, you can still establish Google authorship and the importance of regularly posting to social media has not changed. Read more about the announcement


Google tightened its restrictions at the end of 2013 and since then does not always show a particular author image in each search result, even if authorship is set up properly.

Google takes a variety of factors into consideration when determining whether or not to display an author image in search results. These factors include:

  • Author reputation
  • Content quality (and how often you post content relevant to your key terms)
  • Site authority and trust level
  • Query suitability

Improving any or all of these factors will help your image appear in relevant search results. Your image may show for one search and not for another, or it may not show up at all. Unfortunately, there is no exact formula to follow; at the end of the day it is ultimately up to Google’s algorithm.

Although there are many more than four reasons that could be responsible for the disappearance of your authorship photo, the following elements are some of the most common mistakes that could potentially be the issue.

1. Authorship is Not Set up Properly

This is the easiest and most basic thing you need to check before doing anything else. You can find out if authorship is properly established by checking the structured data testing tool. To use this, click on the link and be sure to replace with your website URL. If the tool shows that authorship is not working you must go through the proper steps outlined by Google.

Possible issues include:

  • The name on your Google+ profile does not match the byline on your website
  • Verification failed either by adding an incorrect code or not verifying an e-mail from your domain name
  • You did not add a link to your website in the contributor to section of your Google+ profile

If the tool shows that authorship is working yet your image is not showing up, keep reading the additional reasons below.

2. Your Profile Photo is Not Up to Par

Google specifically asks for a recognizable head shot on your Google+ profile. There have been times when an individual’s photo was not showing up and as soon as they changed the photo, authorship was appearing again.

Things to avoid in your profile photo:

  • Sunglasses, hats, or anything directly blocking your face
  • Full-length body shots or photos that are too far away
  • Cartoons, logos, or any photo other than an image of yourself
  • Blurry, crooked, oddly cropped or low quality images

The best photo to use is a high quality, clear headshot, preferably with a solid color background. It is also recommended to tag yourself in the photo.

3. You Are Not Posting Enough Relevant Content

If you haven’t posted anything on your Google+ profile or website since three years ago, or even six months ago, Google is not going to find you as relevant as someone who adds content weekly. Authorship is associating someone as an author to particular pieces of content. If you are not adding any content, or very little, Google is going to rank you below someone else with more content. This means adding blog posts to your website, more pages of content to your site as a whole, content to your Google+ profile, and other areas on the web. The more pages you author the better.

It is important to note that even though quantity is important, do not sacrifice quality. Content is useless if it is low quality and does not contain the relevant keywords you wish to rank for. Also, the more conversation you spark from your content the more Google will see you as a trusted author.

4. You Are Not Active on Social Media

This point is more of an extension of the one before. Just as you need to post more often on your blog and website, you should also be participating on other sites like social media. LinkedIn has groups in which you can get involved in and Google+ has something similar called communities. These are forums in which you can discuss various topics with other individuals. Staying active on these sites is a way to boost your authority and trust level as an author. The idea is not to just post content and be done with it, but to engage in conversation by commenting, sharing, adding connections, and others reciprocating this activity.  Other great sites to stay active on is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Quora, Lawguru (legal), JDSupra (legal), Newsvine, and any other website where you have published content.

If you have followed all of these guidelines, but nothing seems to do the trick, it may just be that Google doesn’t view you as a reputable author at this time. Google takes over 200 ranking factors into consideration and unfortunately there is no way of knowing which particular factors are preventing your image from showing up.

The only recommendation we can give is to make sure you are adhering to the guidelines above. The rest is simply up to Google’s algorithm.



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