On May 10th, Microsoft unveiled a significant update to Bing. The “new” Bing is rolling out over the next few weeks and will be broadly available in June (users can sign-up here). It features a three-column interface meant to help searchers act quickly. Results are organized into columns, and friend/expert input is given high visibility. According to Bing, “[T]he 10 blue links that search has been predicated on for the last decade no longer makes sense. Simply put, that’s not how you get things done.”
In addition to the core listings (in the left-hand column), Bing now features two new columns:
- Snapshot: This middle column highlights information on specific places or topics. In the below example, the snapshot shows—for a hotel query—reviews (Yelp, Citysearch, etc.), a map, photos, rates and check-in/check-out dates. For a restaurant, snapshot may show additional content like phone, directions, hours and the menu.
- Sidebar: This right-hand column displays recommendations/advice related to your query from friends, experts and enthusiasts—with emphasis on Facebook and Twitter. Sidebar also features a box for searchers to pose questions to their Facebook friends, who can respond on Facebook or Bing. Over time, Foursquare, Quora and LinkedIn content will also appear in sidebar. These social results are now completely separated from the core results.
IMPLICATIONS for PAID & ORGANIC SEARCH
As the new Bing rolls out to more searchers, we’ll pay close attention to the potential impacts on paid and organic search. Snapshot and sidebar are very eye-catching and may—at least initially—draw attention away from the core paid and organic results. Furthermore, snapshot pushes down right-side paid listings, thus increasing the importance of appearing in the top-sponsored listings. We’ve noticed that Bing is testing the number of top-sponsored listings for some queries; traditionally there’s been a maximum of three listings, but—in some instances—we’ve seen four.
And with snapshot and sidebar now occupying prime search engine results page (SERP) real estate, it’s critical for brands to achieve visibility in the new columns. No longer can search, social and PR teams be siloed; on the new, integrated Bing, these teams must work together to holistically manage the SERP, where all of a brand’s assets are interconnected.
Snapshot is perhaps the greatest opportunity for brands on the new Bing. Snapshot is a big step for Bing in local search; historically Google has done a better job than Bing at integrating local. Initially, snapshot will show for local, task-oriented searches (i.e. find a restaurant, book a hotel, see a movie). Over time, snapshot will expand to other searches on places, things and people. For local searches, snapshot is a one-stop shop. Users can read reviews, get directions, view photos and book reservations in one place without clicking through various listings. Snapshot is front and center on the SERP; it really draws searchers’ eyes. Additionally, whether someone walks through your door is often dependent on a review they read on a search engine; with snapshot, customer reviews now occupy a prominent position on the Bing SERP. Thus, snapshot is critical for any brand that has physical locations. Brands should:
- Take Control: Claim your business listings on sites that snapshot pulls content from (like Yelp and Citysearch)
- Ensure Accuracy: Ensure all information is accurate and up-to-date for each business location
- Optimize: Help search engine spiders easily access and understand native site content that could show in snapshot. This includes on-site content like your restaurant’s menu, your hotel’s rates or photos of your bar’s outdoor seating area.
- Monitor: Designate someone in marketing, customer relations or public relations to monitor your brand’s reviews on sites like Yelp
- Report: Report false and malicious reviews (or spam) to the site where the review originated from
- Participate!: Quickly respond to negative reviews to solve people’s problems. Answer questions, thank positive reviewers and give special attention to advocates who might continue to talk positively.
Sidebar comes on the heels of Google’s Search Plus Your World. And Microsoft—with its powerful Facebook partnership (something that Google lacks)—has certainly taken social search to the next level. Sidebar is positioned to help searchers easily find what they’re looking for, with a little help from their friends.
So how can brands influence sidebar results? The key is to encourage participation at the source—on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. The more people that are talking about your brand in social (and the more “likes” you have on Facebook), the more likely your brand name will appear in the sidebar results. For example, if a Bing searcher queries “flat-screen TVs,” your flat-screen TV brand could be visible in sidebar if the searchers’ Facebook friends have mentioned or liked your brand. To encourage participation at the source, advertisers should:
- Create Sharable Content: Content like coupons, deals, contests, videos and articles is likely to be shared and talked about in social and is thus more likely to show up in sidebar
- Encourage Sharing: Make sharing easy by adding sharing buttons (like, tweet, pin it) to all your brand’s content
- Build a Fan Base: Employ Facebook Engagement Ads to encourage social media users to “like” your page. Because “likes” show up in sidebar, brands now have incentive to collect more fans. But brands shouldn’t just gain fans; be sure to engage and activate those fans.
- Focus on Advocates: Give special attention to people who talk positively about your brand, link to your content and comment on your posts. Encourage them to keep spreading the good word about your brand.
- Activate Influencers: Keep in mind that sidebar will also show subject matter experts who may not be friends with the searcher, but may be a good resource. This means that your PR department should focus on engaging influencers in your vertical to get them to tweet about keywords related to your product. Brands also now have more incentive to encourage their own employees to become influencers in their verticals on Twitter.
- Participate!: Don’t just listen to what your customers are saying in social, do something about it! Ask them questions, solicit feedback and consider their advice. They’ll then be more likely to recommend you to friends.
The new Bing has the potential to be a game-changer for search marketers. Bing has given high prominence to local content in snapshot, and it has given participants all the control in sidebar. Brands that are focused on (1) local optimization and (2) encouraging social participation are the most likely to benefit from the new Bing.
For more information, see Bing’s video:
&amp;amp;lt;A href=&amp;quot;http://www.bing.com/videos/browse?mkt=en-us&amp;amp;amp;vid=806a5bbb-addf-4039-bbeb-8578edffae4c&amp;amp;amp;from=shareembed-syndication&amp;amp;amp;src=v5:embed:syndication:&amp;quot; _mce_href=&amp;quot;http://www.bing.com/videos/browse?mkt=en-us&amp;amp;amp;amp;vid=806a5bbb-addf-4039-bbeb-8578edffae4c&amp;amp;amp;amp;from=shareembed-syndication&amp;amp;amp;amp;src=v5:embed:syndication:&amp;quot; target=&amp;quot;_new&amp;quot; title=&amp;quot;Bing Originals: Search goes social&amp;quot;&amp;amp;gt;Video: Bing Originals: Search goes social&amp;amp;lt;/A&amp;amp;gt;