There has been some notable changes in the SERPs of late as Google continue to adapt the appearance of the SERPs, and as always, we are left to speculate as to why. And as always, the view is a cynical one.
For some time, if you linked your Google+ Profile to the content you created, you’re bio photo would appear next to your work in the SERPs - and whilst it was adopted by many of those in the tech arena, it wasn’t so widely adopted across all niches.
As one of the plus points of adopting Google Plus, it was then a surprise that they decide to remove bio pics from the SERPs – Authorship isn’t gone completely, the bio details still appear, and Author Rank may yet play a part in search if it doesn’t already, but the question remains, why did they make this change – for the good of the SERPs, or to drive more traffic to ads?
The official word via John Meuller was:
“We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we’re simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count. (Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.)”
Whilst this article gives great insight into how exactly CTR has changed, and it would suggest that paid ads get more clicks when there are no bio pics appearing…
So while content authors who, for vanity or CTR reasons, lamented the loss of their face in the SERPs, it would seem then next step in cleaning up the SERPs would be to remove video snippets as reported by SEER…
For me, the next step could well be removal of star ratings from the SERPs given that Google already removed them when implemented on a site’s home page. It wouldn’t surprise me, considering how much we know they affect CTR and the fact they appear on paid ads, so it’s really a question of “when”.