Google’s John Mueller announced they are making a major change in the search results around authorship. Specifically, Google is dropping the profile photo and circle count from the search listings where authorship is assigned to a web page.
Google said that the “click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.” For some reason, I highly doubt that, but webmasters can be the judge of that, as this gets rolled out.
Here is the new design for authorship, notice all you see is a clickable author name:
Here is the old format, where normally having an image next to a search result would lead to more visibility and click-throughs:
Note, authorship has also been updated in the Google News results. They contain a smaller profile image, but the Google+ Circle count has been dropped from there as well.
This new design for authorship in the search results is rolling out to both desktop and mobile results.