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Bing “Subjectship” Explained

Subjectship (image via

The search engineers at Bing wake up every day to an impossible job – compete with Google, without seeming to copy Google. That’s why Bing seems to be experimenting with “subjectship,” its own version of Google’s “Authorship” tags.

Bing Subjectship Revealed

Search engine watchers first spotted the phenomenon back in March when Bing results began returning results with what looked to be authorship tags. SEO brains quickly discerned that Bing’s version of author tags was a different animal entirely.

Though many of the Bing SERPs in questions contain an author photo, they’re actually driven by subject tags. As Danny Sullivan over at pointed out, more often than not, the people depicted in those photos aren’t the authors, they’re the subjects of the story.

Besides creating a much-needed distinction between themselves and Googles, what’s the advantage of subject tags for Bing? That’s a subject that’s creating plenty of discussion on SEO forums across the Web.

One likely reason behind subjectship is that Bing may be creating a knowledge base similar to Google’s Graph to enhance search returns. The ability to link authors and subjects would be pretty valuable in such an effort.

It’s also possible that the tags are a precursor to an actual Bing version of authorship, but even two months after the fact, no one really knows.

If you’re looking for answers from the big brains at Bing, you’ll find that they’re definitely taking after Google when it comes to murky answers.  When asked by Sullivan about the situation, here’s what they had to say:

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.

Matt Cutts couldn’t have said it better himself.

Bing’s Big Picture

Bing is a long ways from truly competing with Google (they’ve currently only got about 17% market share) but it’s clear that they’re gearing up for a long battle against the entrenched giant. Expect to see a lot more moves like this from Bing in the months and years ahead.

Do you have any experience with Bing subjectship? Share your experiences in the comments section below.