Google: Authorship Bug Affects “Very Few Sites,” Actively Working On A Fix

authorship-adoptionGoogle has confirmed that there are current issues with displaying authorship rich snippets on “very few sites.” A Google spokesperson told us “it’s something we’re actively working on” but that “it affects very few sites” on the Internet.

This is a topic I’ve personally been tracking very closely, as my own site is impacted by this very limited bug. About a month ago, I reported at the Search Engine Roundtable that my own face is not showing up in the search results for that site and there are dozens of other complaints from webmasters. This has been going on for months.

Sites that had authorship rich snippets displaying in the Google search results since its inception, suddenly noticed Google has dropped their faces from the search results.

Yesterday, a major car information site on the internet, emailed us about the issue. They wrote to us that they have been having this issue since “early January,” like many of the other reports. They also told us that a Google representative told them directly that nothing is wrong on their side. This is the quote they sent us – although Google has not confirmed if it was authentic:

I’ve discussed with the team working on this and it doesn’t look like there is anything that can be done from your end at this point to expedite the process. Rest assured the team is aware of your request and is doing everything possible internally to make this work as quickly as seamlessly as possible, we try to support as many different site designs as possible, but we still have issues that are being worked out.

Thanks for your continued patience, I will send another update as soon as I have one.

I did ask John Mueller of Google about this back in early June, you can see my question to him about one minute and fifty seconds into the video below. He basically said my code was fine and that it was algorithm related.

This issue has impacted the click-through rate of established and respected sites, such as that car site and my own, for about 6 months now. Google has said it is impacting “very few sites” but that they are “actively working on” a fix. Google however has not given us an estimate time for the fix to be rolled out.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Authorship | Google: Rich Snippets | Google: SEO | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Andy Kuiper – SEO Analyst

    I have several clients that are experiencing this issue; I think it’s a bit more widespread than “a very few sites”. Code tests out fine on Google’s structured data testing tool. Thanks for brining this issue to the forefront Barry :-)

  • Paul Gailey

    this is a can of worms.

  • John Vantine

    I think the issue is spotty coverage. Authorship works in some instances, but not across the board. I’ve seen this on several sites – Google has crawled and indexed all applicable authorship pages but only displays author thumbnails for a small number of those pages.

  • Gerald Ferreira

    I am also in the automotive industry and my site is doing good… also lost my author image

  • Christian Thomson

    Ohh! this has happened to my site as well. And I just tested it on the Structured Data Test and it’s pulling our company logo from our G+ page instead of my face and name!

    And from the comments looks like it is way more than a few websites!!

  • Ken Morico

    Correct. Google doesn’t guarantee the picture will display all the time. That said, it is broken. I used to have pages it would display for. Now it doesn’t.

  • Durant Imboden

    I’ve witnessed the same phenomenon for a while now. I was one of the very early authors to have a byline and photo in the SERPS, but the rich snippets stopped being rich a while back–at least most of the time.

    Oddity: When I did a search for “venice vaporetto” a few days ago, my photo and byline were missing from my listing on page 1 of the SERP. BUT, if I clicked the first result’s inverted green arrow and chose “similar,” I saw my photo and byline on one of the five listings from my site in the similar results. Its hard to see any logic in that, so I’m happy to read that Google has acknowledged an “authorship bug..”

  • Ben

    I set up authorship code for several bloggers on my company site and when it went live, I tested it for all of the bloggers. I was able to get all but one to show up with their author pic in the search results. I couldn’t figure out why that one blogger’s picture would not appear, especially since he is the most active one.

  • NED

    what is going on with google, promoting directories, such as yellow pages. these are phone books. not well structured content filled websites that google says will be rewarded with high ranking search results. my traffic has dropped 50%.
    i have invested large amounts of time and money into my website.

    yellow pages dont spend their own money on SEO it is paid by the subscriber.

    like to hear what other website owner or SEOs think of this.

  • 4u2discuss

    Thanx for a great article on the Google Rich snippet issue.

    This has been discussed at great length in a number of areas, and the Video in the article was really enjoyable from my perspective.

  • 4u2discuss

    Yo Ned
    The user experiences and the value of a site to it’s intended target market are variables The G machine uses. These two particular SEOVI ( Search Engine Optimisation Value Indicators) have great influence over SERP’s and should not be over looked.

    The income from their subscribers is their money, as what your customers pay you is your money, so I think you need to evaluate what you say or what you mean.

    When people are looking for contact information I believe that sites like “the Yellow Pages” are very relevant and should feature high in the SERP’s for a request on contact information.

    Just my opinion…

  • 4u2discuss

    Thanx for your input here as well as on G+ relating to these issues of the Google SERP’s rich snippets

  • Jason Crawford

    My about me and categories seem to be showing up fine on SERPs where I taylor my search to find them, but they are not where I’m targeting my traffic. Other pages and posts aren’t showing any authorship in SERPs. Rather frustrating and I’ve been working on this for months. Google structured testing tool says all is just peachy.

  • Hammy Havoc

    Similar issue. The most unknown writer we have is appearing for Previous Magazine, yet the rest of us aren’t, it’s been this way for a year and a half, we’re all verified contributors on Google+ as well.

  • Durant Imboden

    Barry, have you heard any more about this? (It’s been more than a month since you wrote your SEL post.)

  • SavingFreak

    any updates on this problem? My site randomly dropped authorship about a week ago and we don’t see any issues other than this potential bug.

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