Have you felt the influence of Google authorship on search engine optimization? Since the company integrated Web content writers' photos in search engine results pages, the impact hasn't been crystal clear.
In fact, John Mueller, analyst for Google Webmaster tools, explained there wasn't a significant difference in click-through rates between pages that show an author's picture and those that don't (1). The characteristic that increased CTRs 30 to 150 percent was the use of rich snippets, which would encompass author pictures but can include other information as well. For instance, many companies include ratings or reviews underneath the landing page title text in search results.
The updated version of Google authorship removes the photo and replaces it with straightforward information, including name and date (2). Also gone is the number of circles a person belongs to in Google Plus. Mueller suggests this design will be less jumbled, giving potential customers a clearer view of SERPs. However, another explanation may be the fact that Google is putting a much greater emphasis on mobile search, which would benefit from fewer diminutive pictures that readers attempt to discern.