It seems that Google is messing up a lot lately in terms of attaching the right names to their corresponding content in search results. This is not good, considering that Google seems to be placing a lot more emphasis on who you are.
About two months ago, Google announced authorship markup, which is essentially a way that you can associate specific authors with their content, which is supposed to make it easier for searchers to find content by said author.
This seems to be such a big part of Google's vision for search that it is the only search feature Google CEO Larry Page mentioned when he was talking about the company's innovations in search during the conference call for the latest Google earnings report.
“Even in search … which we’ve been working on for 12 years there have never been more important changes to make,” he said. For example this quarter we launched a pilot that shows an author’s name and picture in the search results, making it easier for users to find things from authors they trust.”
That's all fine and good, but Google seems to be struggling with author names otherwise. Does Google require all publishers on the Internet to make diligent use of this new markup in order to display accurate author names on search results, and otherwise run a high probability of showing false information?
We've noticed a couple of Google mistakes with our own articles just within the last few days by accident. There may very well be more, and I'm betting that it's not just our stuff. For example, here's Google's display of a search result for an article by Josh Wolford:
Notice that it lists "Moses Hightower" as the author. This is the name of a fictional character played by actor Bubba Smith, whom Josh mentioned in a different article altogether. Why would this appear as the author's name for a completely different article (or an article at all for that matter)?
Another example shows Google displaying "Selina Kyle" as the author of an article, which was actually written by Jeremy Muncy. Selina Kyle is also a fictional character (Catwoman's alter ego), which again was not mentioned in this particular article. It was mentioned, however, in another WebProNews article, written again by Josh. Remember, he did not even write the article that Google is displaying this for.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land pointed to some screwy results in a recent article as well, but these were in a different element of the search results altogether. He looked at Google' display of social search results, in which Google was displaying weird names for the people who shared content.
For example, one result, Google said, was shared by TechCrunch writer Jason Kincaid with "Michael Arringtonon on TechCrunch" in parentheses. Another showed Matt Cutts as "Googlewebmastercentral on blogspot.com". Another showed David Harry as "dannysullivan on sphinn.com".
I don't know that any of this is related to Google's authorship markup, but it's interesting that with Google looking so heavily at WHO is writing content, that it seems to be having trouble determining who is who altogether.