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Is Bing Testing “Subjectship” Rather Than Authorship In Its Search Results?
Some are spotting new author images appearing in Bing’s search results today, similar to the way Google shows author images. Except, they’re not really author images. They’re what I’d call subject images, something that might be coming more formally to Bing.
Author Images At Google
Here are two examples of authorship images as they appear on Google:
The first is a picture of Kara Swisher, next to a search that brought up an article that she wrote on the new season of Game Of Thrones. The second is for myself, for an article I wrote about a test I ran to see if my two boys would change from the iPhone to Windows Phone.
In both cases, Google has figured out that we are the authors of these stories, so our pictures are shown next to them.
Subject Images At Bing
Bing is doing something that can seem at first glance to be author images, but as you drill down deeper clearly aren’t, something spotted on Webmaster World and then highlighted by Search Engine Roundtable.
Consider these Bing results for a search for Kara Swisher:
The two arrows point to stories that are about Kara Swisher, with her picture shown authorship-style. But she’s not the author of these stories. She’s the subject.
That wouldn’t be too remarkable if Bing were simply pulling a prominent picture out of these stories, similar to what both Google and Bing do for news stories. But, with the latter example from Gawker, the image shown doesn’t actually appear on the page.
A Subject Knowledge Base?
Is Bing perhaps building a knowledge base of people, so that it can, in turn, link people or subject images back to stories? Perhaps. AJ Kohn explores this more in his Bing People Snippets post. It could be that Bing is trying to extract and apply this type of intelligence.
However, there are other examples where a subject’s image isn’t being used. Consider this for New York Times writer Nick Bilton:
In the first and last examples, Bilton’s picture is also shown on the page. In the middle example, his image doesn’t show for a story he wrote. Instead, it’s an image about that story that is shown.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bing does rollout some form of authorship similar to what Google has. As our SMX West conference last week, Bing’s Duane Forrester said this was something the service was considering.
As for “subjectship,” we’ll see. Certainly something is happening. Even Bing confirmed that to us, though it wouldn’t say exactly what:
“We’re constantly updating and refining the Bing search experience, and before any changes are implemented they undergo intensive testing and experimentation to ensure the best possible user experience. We have nothing further to share at this time.”