The anatomy of Bing search results

Microsoft recently published Bing White Paper for Webmasters and Publishers. While offering little in the actual SEO sense, it does provide other interesting viewpoints, especially for usability guys and web site developers.

The anatomy of a Google and Bing SERP (Search Engine Result Page) are definitely different. Google’s result on “Helsinki” is reasonably simple:


On the other hand, the Bing result provides a bit more context (note that Bing still requires certain locale settings for full experience):



In this particular example, Bing certainly manages to give me a better impression of Helsinki and also a more meaningful search result. However, this is not to make a statement on which one is better – Google certainly seems to win some cases hands down. Also, in the above example, Google has 50% more results, although I’m not sure on the relevance of the numbers here.

Bing also seems to focus more on providing decision-making context and less on directing traffic, hence the label of a decision engine. The document preview extraction feature (see the picture below) is probably one of the most useful features I have so far encountered in Bing. When searching with technical terms, the context is often difficult to grasp, and browsing through long forum pages is sometimes painful. The document snippet is sometimes bogus, but much of the time saves me from actually following the link. This is markedly different from Google, which does create far more passthrough traffic for sites.



Anyway, the white paper gives a nice view into the design principles that go into search engine result page. While the battle between Google, Yahoo and Bing doesn’t touch most of us directly, a few ideas on how to improve search results might be quite useful even for searches spanning your local web application.

In technical sense, the only new thing in the white paper is the nopreview rel keyword for links (disabling the preview feature described above). But the merits of the white paper lie more in its general readability and thought-provocation, some of which also applies outside the field of search. So, recommended reading for web developers!


PS. Regarding my Bing trial, I’m still wavering. I always Bing first and am happy for most of the time, but Google does better when searching for things in Finnish – perhaps due my forced locale configurations with Bing. Also, Google seems to index new content a bit faster and provide more results with obscure keywords such as rare error codes. Yet still, Bing would seem to give me better satisfaction on searches related to casual life. Well, I’ll keep on testing!

June 29, 2009 · Jouni Heikniemi · One Comment
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Web

One Response

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