Just recently, Google shocked the online marketing and SEO community after it announced that it will remove authorship photos and circle counts from search engine result pages or SERPS. The announcement was met with mixed reactions. While others, including Google, believed that the removal of authorship photos will help streamline search results and make them look more organised across different platforms, some said it will reduce the credibility and integrity, as well as affect the click through rate, or CTR, of certain content pieces.
Despite warring opinions, it seemed that Google’s decision to remove authorship photos and circle counts from SERPs did have some merit, at least on the tech giant’s end. According to Larry Kim, CEO at Mobile Monkey, the CTR of paid search ads significantly went up after the tech giant implemented the changes several weeks ago.
Before and after Google’s announcement, Kim conducted an experiment and examined the CTR of a paid search ad using the keywords “negative keywords.” This is to prove if the rumours stating that the tech giant wanted to remove authorship photos from search pages because they are distracting and preventing people from clicking on paid search ads are true or not.
After conducting the study, he found that the CTR of the test ad went up by 44.8% after the authorship photos were no longer displayed in the search results. According to Kim, he and his team tested the data “rigorously” and the difference they have observed was statistically significant. He added that the difference also has 99% confidence due to the thousands of ad impressions the keywords have received during the test period.
Kim also discovered that in the search for the term “negative keywords,” their paid search ad is the only ad displayed. According to him, this eliminates any possible ambiguity resulting from the variance in CTR based on ad position. The two articles he created were also prominently included in the search result page.
“We know that product listing ads draw attention and clicks because of the images, so it would stand to reason that the removal of author photos from organic search results would have the opposite effect. Many suspected that this was the case.Now we know for sure,” Kim said in a statement.
He also stressed out that with the results of the experiment, it is no longer realistic to say that the removal of authorship photos from search has no impact on the CTR of other elements on the SERP, as earlier stated by Google.