Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, announced on Google+ that they are making a major change in the search results around authorship. Particularly, Google is dropping the authorship profile photos and circle counts from the search listings where authorship is assigned to a web page.
Google has reviewed the click through rate on the authorship visibility in the search results but webmasters can be the judge of that, as this gets rolled out. However, click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one. Muller explains that removing authorship pictures from search results has not had a notable effect on click-through rates.
John Mueller says,
We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results… 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.
Here is the new design for authorship; the updated look will simply feature the author’s name in light grey as shown in this example:
Here is the new look for authorship in Google News contains a small profile photo. However, the author’s Google+ Circle count has been removed.
The new look for authorship in News and regular search results is rolling out to both desktop and mobile.
For more information about Google authorship, see this help document.