Google+ used to allow search engines to display the author’s face next to a post, as well as the number of followers that they have. Yet after testing the CTR (click-through rating) on top of these sites, Google has now determined that this profile / author picture does not make a significant difference when dealing with a sites CTR.
Google is moving in a new direction with their search engine interface, and it appears this is just one of many major changes happening to the search engine results in the coming months.
Why make the change?
While there are various opinions on why the change is being made, most experts seem to agree it comes down to one thing; mobile traffic. With smart phones, tablets and other hand held devices; mobile search traffic has skyrocketed in the past few years.
The advancement of smart phones in particular has been astounding, and this technological bubble does not look like it will be bursting soon. The difficult thing is that on these smart phones, the web browsers do not nearly look as nice as their counterpart versions on desktops / laptops.
While mobile sites have come a long way since the beginning, there is still much left to be desired aesthetically about web based browsers on hand held devices. The compact screen is already a deterrent, but if the site isn’t using a responsive theme; sites could look very jumbled and confusing when viewing from a mobile device.
Google is not one of the largest companies in the world without reason; they are jumping ahead of the curve and trying to create their search engines pages to look just as good on a mobile device, as they do on a desktop monitor. By taking away the Google+ profile picture for authors, this change is allowing the web pages for Google’s search results to appear cleaner cut and more user friendly on mobile devices.
In a recent study, mobile traffic now takes up over 30% of all web based search traffic in 2014. While mobile traffic online sales account for 15% of all online purchases, you can bet that number will be rising in the near future.
Google realizes that more and more people are searching for items on their hand held devices, and can make even more money off of these consumers. This is an untapped marketplace, because Google is used to making money off of paid Adwords ads on the side of your search engine. Yet if their ads are not showing on mobile devices, that means they didn’t reach out to over 30% of their audience this past year. I would try and guess what that monetary amount would equal, but I doubt I have enough space in this article to attach enough zeros to that number.
By creating a cleaner, user friendly web browser, this now allows Google to prominently display their paid mobile ads; creating another revenue stream for the company. Getting rid of the authors picture in the search results may just be the first change of many to come, in Google’s quest to simplify and organize their mobile search engine pages.
Is getting Google+ followers still worth it?
Short version? YES! Trying to add to your Google+ following is still very important. What many people do not realize, is that Google+ will show your sites more often to members who follow you. So if you ran an ecommerce store, getting customers to sign in and follow you on Google+ will have a few great rewards.
First off, when this customer searches on Google for a new product (one that you sell in your store) your store will show up on the first page of their search engine, because they followed you on
Google+. Since you are “friends” on Google’s social network, the search results for anything you two may have in common is now brought to the forefront of Google search results.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it is a great way to get repeat customers without ever having to spam them constantly with email marketing tactics. Also, this customer may have bought from a single eCommerce store you own, but did not know about the blog you currently run. Another great way to drive traffic to a site of yours, without having to spend any money on advertising to do so.
If you do not already, I highly recommend getting a Google+ profile. It also would not hurt to get the other social media marketing profiles as well in Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram and Twitter. Bonus reward is that Pintrest links actually give back a bit of SEO juice, so it helps your sites organic rankings as well.
So if you are dying to see you face next to a post you recently made, Google that post now, and take a screenshot of it. Within the next few months that pretty face will no longer be on the first page of Google, but your author picture will live on in that screenshot forever!