Over the past year, Microsoft and its Bing search engine has seen a marked traffic increase thanks to the introduction of several innovative technologies. In the latter part of 2013, Bing was seeing a steady gain on Yahoo in terms of search percentage results, and more search tools are on the way. Some of the newer technologies include Satori, full web search support using Xbox One, and the cleverly designed Snapshot feature.
The Search Engine War Heats Up
Not long ago, all one did was to go to Google and try to find a favorable match to a search term. The algorithms used were much simpler, and web designers, web host consultants, and marketing strategists focused on the idea of keyword stuffing. This was of particular interest to bloggers, marketing affiliates, entrepreneurs, and small business wanting to increase their exposure to a targeted audience.
Things have changed considerably over the past couple of years. The new algorithms in place are much more efficient in deciding the intent of the browsing individual. Synching posts between different networks means that supposedly relevant search terms are now being published to multiple sites at once. This has caused many webpage developers to rethink how they can best help their client achieve maximum exposure no matter what is being published. Image descriptions, infographics. and even the total page layout has been given a new look.
If an individual is looking for a specific product such as a replacement alternator for an automobile, he or she might type in a search phrase that contains the words Chevrolet, Malibu, 2009, and alternator. A few years ago, this was just fine. It really didn’t matter what words were used to fill in the rest of the phrase. Nowadays, the entire phrase is important to search engines. Terms such as head, middle, and tail end are now important. This is because search engines now use algorithms that take the entire sentence into account.
Social media sites are getting involved as well. For example, searching for a person that is of a certain age, who once lived in a certain town, and has the last name of McCambridge will result in a huge stream of data. Unless a person has their privacy settings adjusted to prevent exposure, there is no telling where their photo might pop up.
Bing uses slightly different search algorithms than Google, but the idea that one can use an entire phrase to find a particular organization, person, product, or service has meant some drastic changes for Microsoft. It is really about using strategies that are unique, different from what is being used by the competition.
Satori is Bing’s knowledge index. There is a timeline section that contains facts about individuals. The newest updates to this software are making this a very fast, reliable tool. One of the features that allows for more efficient web searching is the way in which Satori extrapolates useful link information. It is much like an historical database. Searchers are finding it much easier to see immediate results when they are looking for company data and statistics, old newspaper articles, famous speeches, and past sports scores.
One of the most innovative search features developed for Bing, Snapshot is an integral part of the Satori software. Snapshot recently added more than 150 million entries including everything from doctors and dentists to lawyers and real estate firms. In the United States, tax season is in top gear, and there are thousands of search terms added so that individuals and companies can find answers to tax questions more quickly than plowing through the government sites. The idea is to guide the user to a specific site rather than just show a number of results. Snapshot is therefore taking the search results in a new direction. Instead of letting the user decide which sites to click on, Snapshot pushes the search directly to a particular website, or more specifically, to a particular landing page on a website.
Alternative Search Engine Results
Bing is currently testing an alternative method for showing numerous search engine results. This is a bit similar to what Google is doing, but Bing’s efforts focus more on geographically favorable results. For example, alongside the top organic results, a new box opens that shows results from CityScape, Yelp, and Open Table. The idea is to create an easier way for consumers to find results that apply to their nearby vicinity. Whether typing in an actual city or neighborhood location matters is still unclear. Most likely, the search results will be based on the use of the browser chosen. If the user is browsing with Internet Explorer, the results for local search will probably be much quicker and more accurate. Overall, Google remains at the head of the pack, but because of their high market share it is apparent that pressure is building to ensure that alternative search results are highly visible.
Driving Directions From Search Results
Bing recently announced a new driving directions search feature. All one has to do is search with abbreviations such as “sea to cheyenne” and a search result will immediately pop up that includes the average driving time, the total miles, and a detailed map that includes turn-by-turn directions for various routes between Seattle and Cheyenne. The search results are the same whether it be instigated from a laptop, iPhone, or Android.
One of the problems with searching for images is trying to find a photo or reproduction that is of the proper size for whatever purpose the individual requires. Image Match is a new Bing Feature that automatically searches for alternative sizes, pixel count, and resolutions of the same image.
Outlook for The Future
Bing still holds a relatively small share of the search market, currently at about 18 percent. However, considering the ongoing lawsuits that seem to plague Google, there is every reason to believe that Microsoft will continue to inch closer in 2014. There is a new focus on cloud computing as well as semantic search and the inclusion of social media as part of search results. Bing is headed by Satya Nadella, someone with plenty of marketing strategy experience.
One of the best qualities of Bing is that companies and their web designer friends do not have to do much – if any – tweaking to make their online content optimized for Microsoft. Bing does have a few interesting webmaster tools including crawl control and Bingbot fetching. Crawl control allows webmasters to create custom high crawl rate hours. Bingbot fetching is a tool that ensures that the bot is not blocked by other servers, which would otherwise keep a user’s site hidden from search results.
Bing also has a new SEO Analyzer, a tool that scans a single page and makes suggestions for how wording should be changed in order to maximize attraction by alternative search engines. The tools mentioned here may be why Bing continues to creep slowly up the market share ladder, because all of them are easy to understand and use.
Maybe Google, Maybe Not
Businesses are trying every means at their disposal to come up with better-looking pages for the search engines to analyze. Because businesses are owned by people, and because these people employ other people, it hasn’t taken long for the public in general to become familiar with alternative search engines. It is really a matter of taste for most individuals. Some people search casually, others do it for educational research, and others can’t get enough of authentic Spanish-American War photos. Bing is carving a new niche in the search and query market. How far it takes Microsoft in terms of market share is anyone’s guess.