Bing has launched a new version of their search engine complete with user interface and functionality changes, and boy is there a lot to talk about. There is so much to talk about and consider that I almost don’t even want to write this blog post, but it’s a duty. So let’s begin, and out of respect for everyone’s time I will try to be brief.
Social updates are not present in the search results. Bing has done this to keep the results clean and not jumble them up with updates from people in your social communities. This is much different than Google Search Plus your World, which is social update heavy.
According to Bing, “Beautiful, relevant, results are the first thing you see. Instead of cluttering your results with social updates, we’re honoring the purity of the core web results making it easier to focus on the links you need to get things done.”
Interestingly, in this same section of the blog post they mentioned that they conducted tests that removed any trace of Google and Bing branding. When they did this study in January of last year, 34% people preferred Bing, while 38% preferred Google. The same unbranded study now shows that Bing Search results now have a much wider lead over Google’s. When shown unbranded search results 43% prefer Bing results while only 28% prefer Google results.
Personally, I think Bing will continue to catch on. Google has really made some questionable moves. I think they have been pushing out changes too fast. And that is coming from a guy who wants everything done yesterday.
The New Interface
The new interface is welcoming. You have what they call the Snapshot in the middle, a sidebar to the right with a few ads and another far right sidebar with your social elements. That far right sidebar is very similar to the Facebook Ticker in look and feel, but the functionality is directly related to search. So now we can jump in and talk about the elements.
Bing Social Sidebar
Bing had an interesting lead in to this section stating “90% of those asked said they prefer to listen to their friends when making decisions. Whether it’s making a purchase, deciding on a vacation destination, choosing a great restaurant, or figuring out which movie to see this weekend, the new Bing focuses on bringing friends, experts and enthusiasts into your search experience through a dedicated social ‘sidebar.’ With sidebar, Bing brings together the best of the web, with what experts and your friends know, giving you the confidence to act. This new way to search lets people share, discover, and interact with friends like they do in real life.”
Sounds a lot like the same jibber-jabber all the search engines are pushing, but I’ll bite for now. Here are some notes on the sidebar:
Sidebar is Always There
The sidebar will be present after each query but will remain off to the right. You decide if you want to use it.
Element 1: You can Interact with Friends
The sidebar lets you interact with your friends on Facebook. You can post a question to them, tag friends that Bing suggests may know about a topic and you can share information to your friends on Facebook directly from Bing. Total mind blower, right? But seriously, the level of integration they have achieved is very cool. Bing is able to recommend friends who are an authority on a search topic based on their updates. If they shared a post on Costa Rica, and you have pictures of Costa Rica on Facebook, you will appear in their sidebar when they do a search for a Costa Rica related item.
Element 2: You Can Interact with “People Who Know”
You can also interact with people who are an authority on a topic, as decided by Bing. “You will see top experts and enthusiasts from leading networks like Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Blogger.” These people become authorities by writing and updating on these topics. Bing will let you follow these people and/or even ask them questions.
Element 3: Activity Feed
The last element at the bottom of the sidebar is the activity feed. Again, this is really like the Facebook Ticker, it basically shows you posts, queries and questions from your friends who are using Bing and are your Facebook friends. These activities show up in Bing and in Facebook, so you can comment on either site and it will cross pollinate.
Not Live Yet
This update will be going live in the United States the week of May 14th. Bing also intends to launch a mobile version of this amazing new integration.
There are many, many SEO implications to consider here. What does the algorithm entail to make these social profiles an authority for search queries? What will the traffic look like that results from a social profile showing up next to a query? Will Bing be displaying company profiles in this area or only people? How will they determine this?
In this case of all new things with the Internet, we will just have to wait and see. This will be a fun one to test.