Omi Sido asked: So, what were the benefits of Google authorship in the search results really? Thinking now, it was more of a disadvantage because people had the opportunity of clicking through to my Google plus page, rather than going to my actual website.
Mark Traphagen: Omi, I saw the primary advantage for building my personal brand and reputation. If I was consistently writing valuable content in my subject area, and that content was attracting links and other good SEO signals, then people who searched that subject area would start to see my face and name more and more often. I think that helped reinforce my recognition and authority.
Although we have no stats on clicks on the Google+ links, my instinct is that they were minimal (which may be why they removed those links along with photos in June). Think about it, anyone clicking that link would have to be interested in learning more about you, something they were unlikely to do unless they’s already seen your content and found you interesting.
Omi Sido asked: Does this sudden and unexpected change signify the acceleration of a trend by Google to sacrifice organic search visibility in favour of paid ads?
Mark Traphagen: A number of people jumped to that conclusion. I think it’s based on a faulty assumption that search features seriously rob click from ads. In addition, remember that the final removal decision was taken a month after they had removed photos. Do you seriously think the bylines were a threat to ad clicks?