Significant new features from Bing

The Bing Search Summit was held yesterday in San Fransisco, and Bing announced a significant list of new features. Much of Bing’s strategy builds on the same principles as those presented during their 2009 Search Summit. In this post we’ll review the highlights of last year’s Bing Search Summit and take a look at the new features introduced this year.

The keynote for the 2009 Bing Search Summit was Satya Nadella, SVP of Microsoft’s Online Services Division. At the time, Bing demonstrated its current state of search through the following graph, highlighting the problems people were having with Bing search (and even being apologetic for it):


This data comes from Bing search and toolbar logs. Search sessions can also be quite intensive, with 5% of search sessions lasting longer than 30 minutes. Knowing this information means Bing knows it needs to improve. In its role as a decision engine, Bing’s job is to make a variety of information available in as few clicks as possible. Current features on the search engine, such as related searches and authoritative answers, are all ways the engine is trying to surface a variety of information in order to broadly meet searcher intent. This, along with Bing’s stated focus on the verticals of product purchases, local, travel, and healthcare, form the basis for Bing’s focus on improvements.

Turn to 2010. Bing has kept its focus on its key verticals by introducing new features that assist with all except for healthcare. There are improvements to Bing Maps so that local landmarks and local transit information are improved, in addition to interface improvements. Functionality features for local tickets and from local restaurants helps to assist in purchasing those products. Bing has really improved the amount of information available around travel, providing flight details, airfares and destination pages for various cities within the SERPs, depending on your search query. There’s also been a strong focus on mobile; many of the new mobile features have specific local functionality, which makes sense as Microsoft has found that 53% of mobile searches have a local interest. And Bing has not just kept social in mind: new features allow for greater integration with Facebook, including seeing what search results your friends have liked on the Bing SERP. With the recent information that social can influence organic search results, expect to see more SEOs paying greater attention to the integration of search and social in the upcoming year. Plus, with such a strong focus on a few key verticals, it will make sense for businesses affected by those verticals to keep a close eye on Bing – it may not have the same market share as Google, but its functionality may help to draw in more customers in those particular areas.

Charlotte Bourne is a Search Marketing Strategist with Mediative.