Google Serp drops profile photos and G+ circle counts. This has been announced by John Mueller, webmaster trend analyst at Google in his recent G+ post.
Reading within the lines, they have been testing this “new” step back for a while, finding that the click-through behavior is similar in both pictures and not pictures. Also they say that cleaning up the visual design of the search result, it creates a better and consistent mobile experience among different devices.
What do I think about removing the pictures from Google Serp?
This “new” layout is better and I believe it is not a Google’s reaction to the risk of loosing Adwords PPC Revenue, as some people commented.
I think that before, users in front of a Search Result were in some cases more attracted by the profile pictures rather than the snippets or at least influenced by them. This could have generated a bad user experience. The fact that I could see a good looking face in the profile picture, was a good excuse to click, so Google probably found this as an exploitable SEO factor: attractive picture vs unattractive one. This wasn’t related with good or quality content, so they decided to focus on a clear and tidy serp, without any visual distraction.
Is Google Author Rank in still valid?
Despite this visual change in the Google Search Results, the Author Rank is still valid and alive as never been before. So I advice you to read this article on How to increase Author Rank on a daily basis.