Google confirmed its ranking signals have been updated and 15 percent fewer Authorship snippets are showing in results pages.

Google is staying true to its course, and updated Authorship ranking signals to keep publishers from getting ahead by making basic changes to their sites. Author rich snippets were the latest target, and brands are no longer guaranteed stronger SERP presences when adding schema markup to their digital content, reported Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz. Schwartz said Google’s Search Engineer Matt Cutts confirmed fewer Authorship rich snippets are making it into results, and moving forward, this feature will be reserved for highly authoritative publishers.

The search engine reduced Authorship rich snippets 15 percent, and low-quality sites are the intended targets of this change. When Google originally introduced Authorship signal, it became easier for internet users to identify web content written by highly credible individuals, improving overall transparency. However, any site that connected published articles with author’s Google+ profiles could reap the benefits: a clickable byline and photo in SERPs.

Now the search engine aims to reserve this SEO benefit for publishers who are industry authorities, and only content writers deemed credible will get images next to their content.

Writers may need to become more competitive to score rich snippets in SERPs because Google is reducing their presence.

To secure a spot in this upper-echelon of content producers, writers must be in the right social circles (on Google+). Google looks to social signals on the network to identify industry leaders, and individuals who are in more circles and the circles of influential members are considered authorities. This two-pronged system is meant to weed out celebrity sway, sussing out individuals who have massive followings (the Justin Biebers) from those who are trusted figures in technology, politics, news, etc. (the Katie Courics).

Marketers who want to hold onto their Authorship rich snippets in SERPs must take the time to build industry influence on Google+, and other social networks for that matter. The message is the same as it’s always been: Search presence isn’t something that brands can achieve overnight. They need to put strategies in motion that build momentum and generate results over time.

To learn more about the benefits of Authorship, download Brafton’s free resource.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.