If you’ve recently checked the search results for your website, you might be wondering why your smiling photo isn’t showing up next to the link.

Don’t worry. This is all in line with Google’s latest changes.

When you are trying to get noticed on the internet, you’re in the ring with Google. As a matter of fact, Google is the ring. And they are also the gold-belted champion. But even though they are fighting for all of us to get the best search results, they can sometimes feel like our greatest opponent.

For the last two and half to three years, Google has been aggressively making changes to their search engine algorithm. Some of these changes have been fairly drastic and sudden, and they really keep marketing firms on their toes.

Their latest feint and jab is that for several years, Google has requested to have a link from blog posts to the author’s Google+ page. This link would then display a photo of the author right next to the search results. It was likely an attempt to get more people to sign up for Google+.

Regardless of its original intent, Google has now changed its mind. Just recently, the search engine giant announced that they are no longer going to be showing the images in their search results. Google claims that the change was to help clean up the visual look of search results.

Oof. Didn’t see that one coming. But this is hardly the first time Google has suddenly shifted gears with no warning.

Last year, Google made it clear that they liked blog posts linked back to websites, but when they discovered that people were writing posts specifically to link to those sites, they devalued the practice and potentially penalized people for doing it.

For “White Hat” firms who play by the rules like Firm Media, it is a challenge keeping up with this constantly changing playing field. We do our utmost to refine our practices and get the best possible results. Yet what might have gotten us high rankings just a few months ago, could now actually result in a penalty from Google.

Because of this, we take a less aggressive approach to implementing changes, so that when Google suddenly evades and throws an uppercut, we are able to follow quickly, dodge the blow, and keep our sites ranking high.

So forget about those author photos for now. They are a thing of the past.

As for next year—maybe even next week—who knows? But rest assured, we’ll be dodging and weaving with the best of them to get you the highest rankings possible.

– Curt Sautter (Chief Operating Officer)