This week has seen some big news from Microsoft’s new search engine Bing. On Monday Bing launched their new and improved visual search feature. To make it work you need to have Silverlight installed, but I’ve played with it and it is really cool. It operates like a Rolodex of pictures and once you click on a picture you like it brings up a page of search results based on that picture. So say you scroll through their celebrity pictures and click a picture of Natalie Portman (a very attractive lady IMO). Bam, you get the search results for Natalie Portman. Same for movies (District 9 looks intriguing) or dog breeds.
Then yesterday I came across the most recent Nielsen report on search market share. Low and behold Bing has over 10% all by itself. Add in Yahoo’s additional 16% and Bing effectively has over a quarter of the market. Not to shabby for an engine still in its first year of existence. What was the last search engine with this type of growth? Oh yeah, Google!
What Does It Mean Though?
You may be thinking “So What?” Well, in the SEO world we now have a legitimate contender to Google. There will be two mysterious algorithms to guess at and we may even find areas where the tactics to improve rankings in one engine will hurt you in the other (not likely, but possible). For PPC this means that the Big 3 just became the big 2, a la Coke v. Pepsi, which I’m fine with since I’ve never been a fan of Yahoo’s interface and they don’t have an off-line desktop editing tool.
Where Does Bing Go From Here
First, they need to keep pushing their image search because right now they are way ahead of Google in that area. While everyone loved Google for getting rid of the clutter that portals presented, Bing can get traction by making search results “pretty” (yes it sounds lame, but ask people what they like about Bing and the cosmetics are almost universally top of mind).
Second, they need to improve their algorithm. Results are good, but not great. I know they’re making tons of changes already but the only way to win over new users is to present great results when people inevitably visit Bing and run a regular old text search.
Lastly, Microsoft needs to stick with it. Over the last couple years Microsoft has changed the name of their search offering too many times. MSN, Live Search, Bing. Now that they have some traction they need to stick it out (and likely keep forking over millions in advertising, but that’s a given. This is Microsoft after all).
What else would you like to see from Bing?