One of the biggest benefits of Google Authorship was the fact that the actual content creators, the authors, finally get the recognition they deserve for their hard work.
Before Google Authorship, the focus was always on the website and the company’s brand, not the author.
In fact, oftentimes authors were lucky to even get a by line on things they created. It is not uncommon for authors to write hundreds or even thousands of articles for a company, for a small fee or hourly wage, get no recognition for their work (internally or externally), while the company keeps all the profits and recognition for the work created.
Then comes along Google Authorship giving hope to writers everywhere, and many websites began allowing their writers to have a by line, and authors got recognition for their work both on the company website and on Google.
And then Google kills it.
Lasting Negative Changes
This change is going to have a huge affect on the internet community.
Some of the effects include:
- There is less of an incentive for companies to give an author credit for his work publicly.
- Authors have a harder time showing how valuable their work is, since only the website’s name shows up in search engine results (SERPs), not the authors.
- The focus is back on building a company or website brand, rather than building a reputation as an author.
- Since millions of webmasters, authors and web searchers participated in this experiment, there will be a corresponding loss of faith in Google for wasting their time.1
- Reinforces the paradigm that authors and people are not as valuable as corporations and website brands.
The first three impact the authors the most, but the fourth impacts both the authors and Google. Will webmasters and users really be willing to adopt Google’s next ambitious program, when they so easily throw away programs that webmasters and authors have spent a lot of money and man-hours on, only to have their work thrown away by the all powerful Google?
Winners and Losers
Unfortunately this creates some winners and losers, with corporations and popular writers winning, with lesser known and rising authors losing.
- Website owners and corporations get the recognition and corresponding profits from content created by writers.
- Websites and companies do not have to worry about paying the average writer more money, since they already get so little recognition for their work.
- It will be harder for new authors to get recognition for their work.
- Lesser known writers and authors lose leverage and are pressured to be replaceable cogs in the corporate wheel, ceding recognition for their work for a paycheck or one-time fee.
- Popular writers will have less competition by new writers since it is harder for them to make a name for themselves.
- Google loses faith of webmasters and writers everywhere, affecting their future growth, perhaps angering some people enough to start competitors.
Big Number Syndrome
And perhaps the biggest danger to Google itself is that it is starting to succumb to Big Number Syndrome, where they deal with numbers so big, they fail to recognize that even a small percentage of users is a lot of people.
A million people is a small number to Google, and this is not the first time that they closed programs with hundreds of thousands or even millions of users without even blinking. In fact, in their mind, a million users is a failed project.
And it is not something that is unique to Google. It happens with anything big. Big business, big government, monopolies, etc.
Breaking My Heart
I really loved Google, but this breaks my heart. They are losing touch with the very people who make them who they are. I hope they recover, because I have always been inspired by their company.
- Considering there are over 4.6 million mentions of Google Authorship in search results, it is clear Google Authorship was not something people ignored. [↩]