Recently, you may have noticed a change to Bing search results. Images are starting to appear next to results, much like Google shows the face of the author of the content. This was first noticed 2 weeks ago on Webmaster World. Is Bing attempting to add it’s own “authorship” markup to match Google’s?
Take a look at the above image, or punch in a keyword into Bing. Some results seem to have images of the author next to the result. I ran a search for Matt Cutts and sure enough, his image appears next to his personal website. How could Bing be mining authorship information? Bing could be leveraging their new business partner Facebook for author images, and somehow tying authors to web pages, but I don’t think they are there yet.
I ran a few more searches, one of them being Barack Obama. Take a look at this.
Some of the results do show images of Obama, but the weird part is that the images are not the same. Not only that, but it’s not as if Barack Obama himself is the author of any of this content. So Bing isn’t putting images of authors, but rather the subject of the content, or perhaps someone mentioned in the article.
The reality of the situation is actually much more simple than that. Bing isn’t crawling each page, finding a mention of a name, and linking the person to an image. Rather the image you see in the search results is actually an image that appears on the page itself. Take the Barack Obama search results for example, click on each page that has an image next to it, and you’ll find that image on the page.
What is interesting about this is that it seems as though Bing is using facial recognition to product only results that are actually people. Bing also seems to be programmatically cropping these images around the face (in general).
Can we take advantage of this
Google Authorship has proven to increase click-through-rates, so could we get the same results with Bing? The reason CTRs are increased when Google Authorship is being utilized, is because the image of the author draws the users eyes, and is a more visually appealing search result. I don’t see any reason why this same technique wouldn’t translate to Bing and have the same increased results.
The problem is, as it currently stands, the image of a person needs to be on the page for it to show up in search results. Even then, I’m finding inconsistent results. I’ve found several pages that have images of peoples faces, yet the cropped image does not appear in the Bing SERPs. That is beside the point I’m trying to make here, though. If you wanted to replicate the results you get from Google Authorship, you would need to have an image of yourself on every single page you have written.
I’ve also noticed that Bing doesn’t seem to be considering smaller images, so it must have some minimum dimension requirements before deciding which (if any) image to crop for the SERPs. My blog, which you are currently reading, has my face in the author section at the bottom of each blog post, yet Bing has chosen not to include this image in the SERPs for keywords that I rank for.
So it would seem that Bing is experimenting still, and changes are likely to be made in the future. What do you think about all this? Is there something I’m missing? Leave a comment below!