Over three years after Google decided to link to authors' Google+ profiles in search results, the search giant has scrapped the feature. Referred to as authorship markup, the feature had been used by nearly all of the world's top news websites - most of which rely on traffic from Google search results for revenue.
Google's official support page for Authorship in web-search has a succinct description of the move. It reads, "Authorship markup is no longer supported in web search." It points readers to the support page for rich snippets and structured data, suggesting that it be used instead to improve search results.
The search giant had earlier removed Google+ profile pictures of authors from search results, and has now also removed links to author profiles. John Mueller from Google's webmaster tools said in a Google+ post that the company found "the information isn't as useful to its users as it hoped, and in some cases even distracts from the overall search results".
Mueller says Authorship markup didn't reduce traffic to sites and also didn't increase clicks on ads. He adds that this change was made to "improve our users' experience".
An important point is that Google hasn't completely removed Google+ from search results. Mueller says Google search users will still see Google+ posts from pages and their friends "both in the main results, and on the right-hand side".
When this feature was first unveiled in June 2011, Google had called it an "experiment" to help people "find content from great authors". The original blog post (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2011/06/authorship-markup-and-web-search.html) reads, "We know that great content comes from great authors, and we're looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results."Looking back at the post, one thing is certain - the experiment didn't proceed as planned.