SEOs have been saying that authorship markup and other rich snippets are the future of SEO. The underlyings of authorship markup on Google link directly to Google+, where your identity has been verified.
However, now Bing is showing signs of what appears to be some sort of rich snippets markup. But the images aren't linking just to authors.
As you can see, miniature images of the president appear next to links to whitehouse.gov and Wikipedia. These pages, while not authored by Obama, certainly are about him. Scroll further and you also see different images of the president beside links to The Huffington Post and Biography.com.
Again, neither of these images indicate the author. Rather, they seem to highlight the search term. This leaves the questions: from where is Bing pulling the images and why?
Using Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to look at the page's markup, you can clearly see the page does not contain authorship markup. So Bing is not scraping from Google or Google+.
The only microformat data on the page is rdfa information for admins, document title and image. That image URL is the same image listed in the Bing results page.
However, a check of the Wikipedia page does not bear the same fruit. The Washington Post, Fox News and Time pages also have mixed results.
A quick look suggests a relationship between Bing's images and rdfa markup. When an image property appears for relationship or page property objects, it seems the image can be pulled, but isn't always.
In another search, different results appear. While one small image is still present, the whitehouse.gov page no longer has one.
"We’re constantly updating and refining the Bing search experience," a Microsoft spokesperson told Search Engine Watch. "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.”
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