Yesterday Bing launched Linked Pages which allows you to "have more control in how you show up on Bing." Is this Bing's answer to rel=author? If it is, it's not a very good one. Here's my experience and analysis.
Bing Linked Pages
Linking Pages on Bing is very easy.
To start you simply go to www.bing.com/linkedpages and click the blue Get started button.
That will take you to a Facebook login page.
That's right, Bing is using Facebook as their identity platform, much like Google is using Google+ as an identity platform.
One last step to give Bing permission to your first born child and then you can finally get to the Linked Pages interface.
From here you can see Bing results for your name and select which ones you want linked to you by clicking the Link to me button under that result. Here's where I think things get a little strange.
I can link any of these pages to me. The LinkedIn page actually is me while the Myspace profile is actually my skateboarding doppelgänger.
After linking a few pages I did a search on my name and sure enough the Linked Pages show up. The problem here is that there's no bidirectional link to confirm that I really should be linked to this content. They're trusting users (and their ego I suppose) to link the correct content.
What could go wrong?
Not only can you link yourself to any of these results but you can also link them to friends.
I asked my friend Jeremy Post to link something crazy to me just to see how this process works.
Sure enough I was told that Jeremy had linked me to Ke$ha. This immediately shows up in my News Feed and on my Timeline. Action must be taken swiftly! So I click on the 'Linked AJ Kohn to' link and it takes me to the Linked Pages interface on Bing.
I never even saw the notification for the Honey Badger which is a bit scary. (Honey Badger don't care!) I can unlink both offending links here but when I return to Facebook I realize that the Timeline entry is still there. It does eventually get removed after a 20 minute+ delay, but that might be too long for some people.
This is simply wrong. I should be able to accept or deny links before they go live.
I understand this is an attempt to let friends curate the pages that link to you but is this really wise? I don't want to play a game of whac-a-mole and continually unlink pages.
Linked Pages seems like the newest way to prank your friends on Facebook.
Profiles versus Pages
One of the interesting things about Linked Pages is that it is linking other profiles and individual content.
If Bing is interested in extending the value of Linked Pages you'd think they'd want to understand which Linked Pages were other profiles versus simple content. A profile would allow Bing to confidently attach authorship to the content under that profile. Perhaps Bing is doing this in the background but the free-for-all nature of the results makes me wonder.
Content versus Mentions
Another oddity if you're thinking about Linked Pages being used for authorship is that I can link pages to content produced by someone else.
Maybe I want people to know about these pages when they search for me. I get that. But this is not my content. It's simply content in which I was mentioned and/or linked. Again I have to wonder how this would be extended into a real picture of authorship.
Certainly Bing could look at the graph each person creates, determine intersections (and overlaps) with other people and trace it all back to source material. But that seems incredibly messy, particularly since the data is self-reported meaning there's a limited set to work from and little confidence that it's accurate.
Impact of Linked Pages
Linked Pages doesn't do much right now. People may see my Linked Pages when they search on my name. (This actually isn't happening yet but I'm guessing it takes a little while to propagate. I'll update this post when it does.)
However none of the pages I linked are given any type of additional treatment in normal search results.
So the impact of Linked Pages, at least for now, is limited to (at a maximum) vanity searches.
Bing Linked Pages is an attempt to let you control what people see when they perform vanity searches. However, the lack of bidirectional confirmation and inability to easily determine profiles, content and mentions severely limit the impact and application of this feature for authorship and opens the door for a new form of Facebook prank.