Google Rich Snippet Updates Announced, Author Stats Go Missing

Chris CrumSearchNews

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Update: A Google spokesperson tells WebProNews, "We’ve currently disabled the experimental ‘Author stats’ feature in Webmaster Tools Labs as we work to fix a bug in the way stats are attributed."

Google announced that Product Rich Snippets are now supported on a global scale, so businesses around the world can take advantage of them, and stand our more in search results for the products they're selling - those, which searchers are looking for. Product Rich Snippets had only been available in certain locations until now.

"Users viewing your site’s results in Google search can now preview information about products available on your website, regardless of where they’re searching from," said product manager Anthony Chavez on the Google Webmaster Central blog.

Chavez also announced that Google's Rich Snippets Testing Tool has also been updated to support HTML input. "We heard from many users that they wanted to be able to test their HTML source without having to publish it to a web page," he says.

Rich Snippet Testing Tool

There's some interesting discussion in the comments section of Google's blog post announcing these changes. Some are clearly happy to see the HTML suppor for the tool.

Coincidentally, this is the second time I've written about the Rich Snippets Tool in the last 24 hours. I wrote a big piece on Google's Authorship Markup and what it means for both authors and Google. In that, I referenced a recent interview Google's Sagar Kamdar did with Eric Enge at Stone Temple Consulting, as Kamdar had suggested using the Rich Snippets Testing Tool to make sure you have authorship set up correctly.

As mentioned in that other piece, Google has been providing author clicks and impressions data in Webmaster Tools. Now some are finding that author stats have gone missing. "Thanks for the upgrade 😉 But now the author stats are disappeared," one user commented on Google's blog post.

Some are complaining about it in the WebmasterWorld forums. Sally Sitts, who started a thread, writes:

I went to check my "Author Stats", under the "Labs" tab in Google Webmaster Tools. GONE!

Anyone else?

In the past, they only gave me credit for about 50% of the pages that I have "fixed up with Google-required special authorship tags", according to their specifications.

At the bottom of the "Labs" page, their disclaimer prevails -

"Webmaster Tools Labs is a testing ground for experimental features that aren't quite ready for primetime (sic). They may change, break or DISAPPEAR AT ANY TIME."

Nothing about the probably of return, however. (sic)

This was followed by a couple of interesting replies. Lucy24 writes:

They never got as far as crediting me with anything, although the Rich Snippets Testing Tool (under More Resources) still comes through with "verified author markup".

:: mopping brow ::

The author function definitely still exists. Saw it within the last 24 hours while doing a search. (Not, alas, a search for my own pages.)

Sgt_Kickaxe writes:

Lots of changes going on still.

Did you know that after you verify your authorship with G+ you can UNverify it by removing the markup (you can even close your Google+ profile!) but Google will still give you special search results (including picture)? They forget nothing. That's something to think about if you're running a plugin of any sort to handle markup, save your resources and shut it down 🙂

With regards to the Product Rich Snippets, one reader commented, "WHY are adult-related products not supported for rich snippets ? What is the problem, since there is no picture displayed?Are loveshops, selling perfectly legal items, not worthy of having nice SERPs displayed too ? I find that really unjust."

We've reached out to Google for comment regarding the missing author stats. We'll update when we know more.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.