Bing has been a bit ‘quiet’ over the past few years, we were all wondering whether the people at Microsoft had given up on the battle with Google and if they might even consider selling the engine to Facebook. Then last week Bing suddenly came out with a new whiter design. Much more like how Google used to be. Was this a move which was a response to Google’s more and more cluttered search results? Maybe a little, but yesterday it became all clear why: Bing ‘relaunched’ into “The New Bing”, “a brand new information architecture with a three column design”. Bing integrates social into search as well as what they call a ‘snapshot’, a column which helps you ‘do’ things a lot faster, like instantly booking a hotel. Unfortunately I am not seeing it myself yet, but Bing has made the below video to show you which changes they made: Let’s take a look at some of the changes
So the ‘redesign’ was the first sign that things were changing at Bing. They needed to create more space for the two columns which are now added, the snapshot and the sidebar. If they wouldn’t have done that it would have been way to busy on the site. The new design will also make searching on Bing much more nice and calm which will maybe help people moving over to Bing.
A big change off course is the ‘snapshot column’. On the right of the search results (pushing down ads!) you are getting information related to the search you’ve done. This can be maps, reservations, reviews and other similar information. Here Bing’s “searchers intent” efforts really comes back, it has the ‘decision engine’ written all over it. It is a nice feature which gives you some great extra information.
The sidebar however is the biggest change. I won’t go into detail on all the changes there, because that for example has been covered in a very good way by Danny Sullivan over at Searchengineland. The essence however of the sidebar is that you can communicate with your social network (remember, Bing is connected to Facebook) about your search. You can ask friends what their opinion about a topic is, you get suggestions on which of your friends might know more about the topic and there is an actual activity feed of what your network is doing around that specific search. This is high value because Bing tries to figure out which of your friends might be best suitable to give you more information on the topic. It goes A LOT further than what Google is doing with Search Plus Your World and the images next to the results, maybe not on the backend, but certainly in what you are seeing. In the video below Stefan Weitz of Bing explains:
Do we like this and will it help Bing?
So, the big question: do we like this? And will Bing benefit from it? Personally I am quite enthusiastic about what Bing is showing here. It looks great and it seems to be working well as well. So that is one “yes” right there. But will Bing benefit and take some market share from Google? Well for once I think their timing is spot on. Google is not going through the best time ever and has a lot of issues, also with the social elements they are implementing in Search Plus Your World and all the legal issues against them popping up. This could just get people to move over, also because Bing has one big advantage: they are connected to Facebook and Twitter, where Google ‘only’ has their own social network Google+.
The big “BUT”
There is one big “BUT” however. One thing which has held back Bing all these years I think: the roll out. They are saying they will be rolling this out in the next few weeks, US only at first (off course…) But I hope this time we will be seeing more things more quickly here in Europe. I think its essential to be honest to get this out to everyone as quickly as possible. They need to move NOW. If not everything they do will have little effect on their market share. What do you think?