Does the Google+ markup confuse the Googlebot?

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This morning while trying to have a play with the Google author search I ended up on the image search results for my name and was surprised to see friends and colleagues of mine appearing in the results with our own Anna Francis even appearing before me.  On the first page of results there are three pictures of me (orange) from various sites, three pictures of people who have me in their/are in my google plus circles, and one image that was previously my Google Plus avatar (but is out of date as I changed my profile picture about a month ago).



Image results for “John Hickling”

Clicking the images confirmed my suspicions that they were coming from my google plus page and were being seen as relevant as the images where located in markets next to the words “In John’s circles” or “has John in circles” and seemingly Google is seeing their proximity to the word John as making them more relevant then the actual profile picture of me on the page and the countless repetitions of my avatar next to my posts.

Obviously being a nosey web developer I couldn’t resist having a peak about at the HTML on the Google+ profile page and make some suprising discoveries.


  1. The main profile picture has no Alt text (the avatars next to the posts do)
  2. The page does actual use the Google recommended hcard microformat, however it fails to make use of the photo property which would surely have made it more obvious to the Googlebot which image on the page is most relevant.
  3. There is a lot of repetitive inline styling bulking the code (I’m just being picky now).

One would think if anyone would be getting the markup correct on their page then surely it would be Google but it seems even they have some work to do.

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