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Does anyone know what causes the exclusion of a profile picture in the authorship information in the Google SERPs?

For some reason, my profile picture has disappeared from the author information in the Google SERPs. The 'by author name - in xxx Google+ Circles' is still showing, but without a head-shot. I'm having this issue for all websites I post content on.

For some of these websites I claimed authorship using the rel="author" attribute, for some of them I did so through email verification. For others I verified authorship by adding ?rel=author to the Google+ URL.

Just to be clear, authorship information is set up correctly for all these sites. I tested the ones that were verified with author markup with the rich snippet testing tool.

Also, as mentioned before, the author name is still showing up in the search results and the articles are showing up in the author statistics in Google Webmasters Tools. Everything was still working perfectly a while ago, and I didn't change anything before this issue started.

I've searched for a fix, and did find others that have the same issue as of recent, although no solutions yet.

Troubleshooting steps I've taken:

  • Replaced profile picture with a more clear headshot on Google+
  • Replaced <a href="https://plus.google.com/9999999999/" rel="author">Google+</a> with vanity link: <a href="https://plus.google.com/+ExampleVanityLink" rel="author">Google+</a>

I have also read somewhere that disappearing author pics could be caused by a lack of activity on Google+. I've however seen profile pictures from other authors appear in SERPs that were way less active on the networking site than I am.

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R u using Blogspot? –  Sathiya Kumar Dec 31 '13 at 12:17
All websites I have this issue with are managed by Wordpress or other CMS'es. Haven't used Blogspot for about half a year now. My old blogspot site is 301 redirected to one of the sites that the issue arises with though. –  Edward Touw Dec 31 '13 at 12:19
Have you checked the search result by logging into Google? –  Sathiya Kumar Dec 31 '13 at 12:21
Actually this is a common issue and these kind of questions has been asked so many times. Check webmasters.stackexchange.com/… for more related questions –  Sathiya Kumar Dec 31 '13 at 12:27
Thanks. I have checked the related questions, but none of them are about this same issue. Most are about authorship information not showing at all. In this particular case, authorship information is showing, however without a profile picture. I have indeed checked by using Google when logged in, when logged out, in incognito mode and by clearing cache/cookies/search history. –  Edward Touw Dec 31 '13 at 12:47

2 Answers 2

It is a common action taken by Google at the end of last year (December 2013). Others are reporting the same issue, so I think you just need to wait for Google changes.

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If this is a link to your site or blog, please disclose that, and try to elaborate on your answers a little so they're not viewed as a link only answers. –  dan Jan 4 at 1:26
Hi Yac, thank you for your input. From what I can gather from the information on the page you link to however, it's about authorship not showing up at all. In my situation however, authorship is showing, but without a profile picture in the SERPs. –  Edward Touw Jan 4 at 21:53
Other people in the the Google Product forums are reporting loss of picture too from around the same time as you: productforums.google.com/d/msg/webmasters/muvbBvRuy_Y/… It does seem to be somehow tied to Google tightening the requirements for authorship in general. –  Stephen Ostermiller Jan 22 at 11:56
up vote 0 down vote accepted

As it appears, this is caused by the way Google is changing the way it shows author info. On his Google+ page, Google’s John Mueller says: “we're simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count.”

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