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Microsoft's new Bing search engine: what it means for your site

This month Microsoft launched its new Bing search engine (www.bing.com). In this article, we look at the new search engine and what it means for you as a website owner.

What is the new Bing search engine?

Bing replaces Microsoft's previous search engine, Live Search.

Microsoft calls Bing a 'Decision Engine' and describes it as being the first step in moving beyond search with the aim of helping people make informed decisions more quickly.

In its design of Bing, Microsoft says it identified three goals to guide the development: displaying good results, providing users with a more organised experience, and simplifying tasks.

It should be noted that Bing is still described by Microsoft as being in 'Beta' form.

Microsoft is investing heavily in promoting Bing. At the time of writing (26 June 2009), Alexa already ranks Bing as the 80th most popular site on the Web. Google in comparison is ranked in 1st place and Yahoo is in 2nd place.

It therefore makes sense to take Bing into consideration when planning for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Bing's search engine algorithm

Many users have reported that Bing's search results are similar to those of its predecessor, Microsoft Live Search. It is therefore likely that Bing uses similar search algorithms.

If your site already performed well in Live Search, it is therefore possible that it will also perform well in Bing.

Despite this, all search engines update and change their search engine algorithms regularly, so it makes sense to continue monitoring your site's performance in Bing for important keywords, particularly when the search engine moves away from its 'Beta' stage.

What makes Bing stand out from the rest and what it means for you

One of the key distinguishing features of Bing that sets it apart from other search engines is the way that it displays results. One of the most notable of such features are the information boxes that appear to the right of search results when the cursor hovers towards the right margin.

The information boxes include extracts from each webpage's content and a selection of links found on the page.

Since Web users will often skim the information boxes prior to deciding whether to visit a site, as a website author, it is important that you always writing your page content concisely and use important keywords throughout.

The links displayed in the information boxes are often sourced from the website's navigational tier or one of the first links found in a sentence towards the top of the page. Including links on your navigational tier that are sorted in order of importance and ensuring that the first link in your webpage's content is descriptive and points to an important webpage is therefore recommended.

The number of search results that Bing returns will also vary. For example, in some cases if it is clear what is being searched for, only one search result may be returned (with the exception of possible associated news stories). You can see an example of this if you search for "Yahoo" or "Facebook".

If searches are performed on a large website's name, such as media sites that are spread over multiple subdomains, an entry for each subdomain might be displayed.

The quality of Bing's search results

Some people have reported that Bing returns more accurate search results than other search engines, while others have found the opposite.

Test searches have also shown that in some cases, accurate results are not shown until several items into the search results. The accuracy of search results is likely to improve over time, particularly once Bing moves out of the 'Beta' phase.

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