Bing It On Holiday Search Challenge: Search, Compare & Win

Starting today, we’re inviting people in the US to take a new holiday-themed Bing it On Challenge for a chance to win a ‘Microsoft Box of Awesome’ (Windows Phone 8, Xbox 360 with Kinect, Windows 8 device) or a chance at the grand prize:a $10,000 paid trip to any place in the U.S. Test it out by searching for your favorite holiday activities such as “how to make homemade eggnog” or “ice skating rink” and pick your preferred results. clip_image001 To enter the sweepstakes or learn more, visit the challenge site at, Official rules can be foundhere. Launched earlier in the Fall, the Bing It On Challenge is an online tool that makes it easy for you to compare Bing and Google’s web search results. The challenge is simple – within the tool you search for five search queries of your choice and compare unbranded web search results from Bing and Google side-by-side. For each search result, you choose a winner, or declare it a “draw”. After you complete your five search queries and vote for each one, we show you the final score. You can then share the Bing It On Challenge with others via Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Good luck! – The Bing Team

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Bing Search Quality Insights: Friends and Experts

The foundation of web search has been built on keywords, links and clicks pointing to pages. This approach is great for finding web sites but search is more than about simply finding pages. With the help of social networks, people are able to share nearly everything they do in digital form and offer their opinions on almost every conceivable topic. From real-time streams to social conversations, connections are created that present the opportunity to bring people into the search equation. Today Paul Yiu, Principal Group Program Manager for Bing Social, provides an overview of how we incorporated people into our latest release. No matter what query you submit to Bing, you may be amazed that some of your friends, influentials or experts often know something that you are searching for, in addition to high quality web documents that you always count on.

– Dr. Harry Shum, Corporate Vice President, Bing R&D

people sqi

The goal here is to bring you a list of people that might be able to help you get more done. For instance, here is an example of how the Sidebar might help you plan the perfect adventure in Hawaii.

Friends Who Might Know

Depending on what your friends have been paying attention to, and their profile information, Bing will recommend them as people that might be able to help. Let’s look at the Hawaii example. For me, when I search for “Hawaii,” I see the following:

– Two friends that have shared beautiful photos of Hawaii

– A friend who likes the Hawaii page on Facebook

– A friend who likes a couple of topics related to natural aspects of Hawaii, and

– A a friend who lives in Honolulu, who could help me plan a trip

Another example of how this works is with general category search. For example if you search for movies or restaurants, you may see things your friends have liked, as potential recommendations. I was delighted to find out how much I have in common with friends in terms of our taste in movies and food.

In terms of how we order these friends in the sidebar, it’s a combination of how many activities and attributes match your query, the type of activities and attributes that made the friend relevant, and how likely our ranking system thinks you will find that information useful. Since we launched the feature a month ago, the system is learning quickly which types of information inspire the most engagement from users. The more you use the product, the more accurate that Bing gets at recommending friends that might be able to help.

People Who Know

Beyond friends, Bing can help you find people who are influential about the topic you’re searching, based on what they’ve publically blogged or tweeted about. In a glance, you will see top experts and enthusiasts from leading networks like Twitter to quickly check out what they have to say about the topic you’re searching for. You can follow them, ask them a question or see what they have shared in the past. While results may vary when it comes to Friends Who Might Know, in the People Who Know section of the Sidebar, for now, Bing displays the same results for each user. The idea is to recommend people that are influential or popular in the context of your query or topic.

There is some similarity here to how we think about ranking documents. There are signals that are relatively static, and there are signals that are more dependent on the query. In terms of static signals, we look at:

– Followers in Twitter, and how many there are

– How influential the person is in general, i.e., how much does he or she get re-tweeted

– Who he or she follows on Twitter

– The likelihood that the Twitter user is a spammer based on peculiarities in his or her connectivity graph.

When it comes to query-dependent signals, we look at a user’s influence, i.e., how well does his or her content get retweeted around this particular topic. In a way, a retweet is like “social anchor text.”

Here is an example. I was interested in finding out more about a new HBO show by Aaron Sorkin, so I searched for “The Newsroom.” I see that Emily Nussbaum, a TV critic from the New Yorker, has been engaged in interesting conversations on Twitter. The content on Twitter supplements really well the news articles and reviews I can see in the web search results.


While general authority matters, our machine learning techniques try to surface the people who are Influential or Popular for the particular query topic at hand. As a result, people who are generally influential on Twitter (i.e. have a large general following) may not be guaranteed to appear for a query or topic where he or she has little influence. For example, Kim Kardashian is influential on Twitter but probably won’t appear for the query “machine learning.”

More to Come

We are working feverishly to enhance the content and improve the quality of people results. We’ll let you know as soon as new capabilities are available. Many thanks for your helpful comments and suggestions. Please keep them coming!

– Paul Yiu and the Bing Social Search Team


Bing Redesigns Image Search: Trends, Filters, Suggestions & More

SEO Bing Image Results

Just a day after a completely redesigned Yahoo Image and Video Search experience came out, Bing has announced their own new Image Search, complete with larger thumbnails, hover-over previews, search filters, search suggestions, and trending searches.

Image searches account for 7 percent of all Bing searches. Now the experience is more immersive, beautiful, and fun, according to the Bing Multimedia Team Program Manager, Jon Noronha.


A small icon depicting three squares of different sizes allows users to find different sizes of any given image. Once on the sizes page, users can hover to see a larger preview as well as the URL where the image is hosted. Choosing a picture and clicking through allows users to preview the entire page it came from (see details below).


Clicking on an image from this page takes users to a second preview pages, with different image sizes arranged in a horizontal bar across the top of the page. A warning box lets users know that selecting an image will take them away from Bing and to the site at which the image is hosted.

Bing Image Search Filters


Users can filter Image Search results by the following parameters:

  • Size: All, Small, Medium, Large, Wallpaper (default)
  • Color: All, Black & White, Color Only, or choose specific tones
  • Type: All, Photograph, Clipart, or Line drawing
  • Layout: All, Square, Wide, or Tall
  • People: All, Just Faces, or Head & Shoulders

Filters can be combined to drill down to specific image types, and reset, as necessary. SafeSearch controls still appear in the top right and can be used to set Strict or Moderate search safety levels on Image Search.

Other Image Search Page Features


Related searches are suggestions that appear in a vertical right sidebar, as thumbnail images with the query in text beside them. Users can also link to See All Trending Searches (which is also the default view for the home page, as seen above) from the bottom of this list.

Below Related Searches, users can view their search history, which can also be cleared or turned off from this area.

At the bottom of the page, users can find links to Privacy & Cookies, Legal, Advertise, About Our Ads, Help, and Feedback, but infinite scrolling means they move down the page too fast to actually catch them and click on them.


The infinite scrolling issue corrects itself once users click through to an image. On the actual image page, users can preview the entire page on which the image is hosted before clicking through, as seen above.

Image Search Latest Component in Bing Redesign

“We hope the new look will entertain, inspire, and inform you about the world,” Naronha wrote in the blog post announcement. “Give it a spin, and then come back to see all the new features,” which seems to indicate more changes are in the works.

The Image Search redesign is the latest is a number of aesthetic changes at Bing. On May 2nd, they launched their new, simplified search results page layout. Shortly after, Bing introduced a new three-column layout, with snapshots and a social sidebar.

The new Image Search didn’t revive Visual Search, which Bing began phasing out last fall.


Bing Adds More Yelp to Local Search

Bing and Yelp are teaming up to provide more local information when you search. Starting today, Bing’s U.S. users will see significantly more Yelp data included directly on Bing search results pages in the center column.

This information is now being provided using rich data markup and includes images, reviews, star ratings and more. Bing Local searches also include even more information powered by Yelp on local place pages.


Yelp is one of the leading resources on the web for local restaurant information and reviews. Bing previously contained some public information gleaned from Yelp’s firehose.

“Bing’s approach is to partner with leading content providers and services from across the web to provide people with more relevant results from the websites they trust,” a Bing spokesperson told Search Engine Watch. “By teaming up with Yelp, Bing is able to provide searchers with richer local data – including review snippets, photos and business attributes – from one of the web’s leading local listing services.”

The increased Yelp information is being provided to Bing is clearly labeling content provided by Yelp’s data. While no details are available about the partnership, it is apparent Bing is looking to not reinvent the wheel and utilize the expertise of other sites in their respective verticals.


New in Bing Search Results: It’s Qwiki-pedia!

Bing’s search results now feature Qwikis – short, captioned videos that turn text on Wikipedia pages into words that are spoken by a robotic female voice, as you’re treated to a scrolling slideshow of related images, videos, and maps.


After you conduct a search, let’s say for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, look below the Wikipedia entry. There, you’ll see a play button next to a link to “Steve Ballmer – Watch the Qwiki”. Click on that and your interactive presentation begins.


Bing’s deal with the startup company will be initially limited to appearing beneath millions of Wikipedia results, but Bing promises “deeper integration” in coming months. The company also released a video demonstrating Qwiki on Bing, featuring Bing Director Stefan Weitz.

Bing described the addition of Qwikis as “a gateway for further exploration that offer a unique, visual experience to help you quickly get information and do more.”

What say you?


Bing Offers Up a Free Link Graph

Bing refreshed their webmaster tools offering & now allows you to look up link data for 3rd party sites.

We recently interviewed Bing’s Duane Forrester about the new SEO tools & their product roadmap.

Here is a screenshot of their new link explorer, but I highly recommend setting up an account and checking it out firsthand.

For a long time Yahoo! provided great link data, but most other search engines were more reserved with sharing link data for competing sites. What were some of the driving forces behind Bing opening up on this front?

Bing values the power of strong partnerships as one way to spur innovation and deliver compelling experiences for our users. For any partnership to be effective, remaining as transparent as possible is critical, including those we forge with agency and publisher partners. Sharing link information was something very clearly asked for by tool users, so after doing the internal work to see if we could provide the information, it was an easy decision to build this tool when the answer came back positive. You wanted it, we had it and could share it. Done.

As a search engine your web index is much much larger than most SEO tools. On Twitter Randmentioned that the index size of Bing’s new Link Explorer was fairly comparable to Open Site Explorer. Is the link data offered in the tool a select slice of the index? Were you trying to highlight the highest quality link sources for each site?

We see the entire index, or at least “can” see the entire index and link ecosystem. We’re limited to the actual number we can show at any given time, however.

Currently it appears as though the tool lists link source URLs & page titles. Will the tool also add anchor text listings at some point?

On the list – sometimes we run into data sourcing issues, so when we hit those walls, it takes us longer to add features. Bing WMT pulls data from all the sources available within Bing Search, and sometimes those have limits imposed for other reasons. In those cases, we must abide by those rules or seek to influence changes to increase our own access/capacities. A search engine is a complex thing it turns out… J

There are filters for “anchor text” and “additional query.” What are the differences between these filters?

Anchor Text is pretty clear to most SEOs. “Additional Query” allows you to look for, as an example, a page with “N” text appearing on it. So text not just as “anchor text”, but simply appearing on the page.

Currently if I search for “car” I believe it will match pages that have something like “carson” on it. In the future will there be a way to search for an exact word without extra characters?

I’m going to split this answer. Users can enable “Strict” filtering to only see “cars” data by selecting the “Strict” box. To your point, however, this is what some of our tools are Beta. We will continually refine them as time goes on, adding features folks find useful.

Will you guys also offer TLD-based filters at some point?

First time anyone’s mentioned it, so I’ll add this to our list for consideration.

A few years ago my wife was at a PPC seminar where a Bing representative stated that the keyword search data provided in the tools matched your internal data. Is this still the case?

Bing Advertising is completely separate from Webmaster Tools. I’m not sure if that rep was meaning data within the adCenter tools matches data or what. Bing WMT does import CPC data to showcase alongside keywords which sent traffic to your site. That data matches as we pull direct from adCenter. The data we show through our tools comes direct from Bing Search, so that’s a match if this is what you’re referring to.

Bing’s Webmaster tools offers an API with keyword research & link data. Bing’s Ad Intelligence is easily one of my 3 favorite SEO tools. Will Bing eventually offer a similar SEO-oriented plugin for Excel?

No plans on the roadmap for an Excel plugin.

At SMX Derrick Connell suggested that there was a relevancy perception gap perhaps due to branding. What are some of the features people should try or things they should search for that really highlight where Bing is much stronger than competing services?

Without doubt people should be logging in and using the Facebook integration when searching. This feature is tremendously helpful when you’re researching something, for example, as you can reach out directly to friends for input during your research process. While searching, keep your eyes open for the caret that indicates there is more data about a specific result. Hovering over that activates the “snapshot” showing the richer experience we have for that result. Businesses need to make sure they focus on social and managing it properly. It’s not going away and those who lag will find themselves facing stiff, new competition from those getting social right. Businesses also need to get moving adopting rich snippets on their sites. This data helps us provide the deeper experiences the new consumer interface is capable of in some cases.

You have wrote a couple books & done a significant amount of offline marketing. One big trend that has been highlighted for years and years is everything moving online, but as search advances do you see offline marketing as becoming an important point of differentiation for many online plays?

In a way yes. In fact, with the simplification of SEO via tools like our own and many others, more and more businesses can get things done to a level on their own. SEO will eventually become a common marketing tactic, and when that hits, we’re right back to a more traditional view of marketing: where all tactics are brought to bear to sell a product or service. Think of this…email marketing is still one of the single best converting forms of marketing in existence. Yet so many businesses focus on SEO (drive new traffic!) instead of email (work with current, proven shoppers!).

In fact, neither alone is the “best” strategy for most online businesses. It’s a blend of everything. Social happens either with you or without you. You can influence it, and by participating, the signals the engines see change. We can see those changes and it helps us understand if a searcher might or might not have a good experience with you. That can influence (when combined with a ton of other factors, obviously) how we rank you. Everything is connected today. Complex? Sure, but back in the day marketers faced similar complexity with their own programs. Just a new “complex” for us today. More in the mix to manage.

What is the best part about being an SEO who also works for a search engine?

On Wednesday, June 6th at 10AM PST, I was part of the team that brought a new level of tools forward, resetting expectations around what Webmaster Tools should deliver to users. Easily one of the proudest moments of my life was that release. While I’m an SEO and I work for the engine, the PM and Lead Engineer on the WMT product are also SEOs. 😉 To say Bing is investing in building the partnership with SEOs is no mere boast. Great tools like this happen because the people building them live the life of the user.

What is the hardest part about being an SEO who also works for a search engine?

Still so few people around me that speak this language. The main difficulty is in trying to understand the sheer scope of search. Because everything you thought you knew as an SEO take son an entirely different dimension when you’re inside the engine. Imagine taking every SEO conversation and viewing it through a prism. So many more things to consider.


Bing Webmaster Tools Announces New Features, Tools and Ways to Access Data

We’re excited to announce a major change to the types of data and depth of guidance found in webmaster tools with our Phoenix update to Bing Webmaster Tools. This update includes a new, fresh user experience, a range of new tools including Link Explorer (beta) and SEO Analyzer/SEO Reports (beta), and updates to current tools such as our Keyword Research Tool (beta), and our URL Removal Tool, among others.

Read more below to get some details about our update and sign into your Bing Webmaster Tools account today to explore on your own! We’ll be back in the coming weeks with detailed looks at each feature and tool, but let’s take a quick walk through the system now.

New User Experience

Bing Webmaster has introduced an entirely new look and feel designed to be fresh and simple, allowing for easier access to data, enhanced discoverability of information and improved account management. Right away you’ll note the cleaner header and improved left-side navigation across the suite. Your profile is easily managed from any page in the space from a link at the top of the page.

In the image below you can see the central My Sites area in the new interface which will include top-line data for your verified sites. For each, you will immediately see key statistics and you can customize the date range with the handy date drop downs.


If you only have a single domain in your account, you will not see the page above as we will direct you straight to your dashboard page, saving you a click. Here’s a view of the dashboard page for a website.

A useful date range selector allows you to quickly change your view of data to any of the presets, or to a custom range you select. Below each dataset on the page is a link to more data of that type. In the Sitemap area, you can easily submit a sitemap by simply clicking the button and filling in the URL.

Viewing your site’s activity data just got a whole lot easier as well. As you will see below, today’s new user experience enables a single graph with user-selectable data displayed. You can drag your mouse over any point on the graph to see the hover pop with information from the date you are hovering over.

New: Link Explorer (beta)

The ability to explore link information for any domain is here! Dive deep with this beta tool which allows you to explore links associated with any domain. Simply enter a URL and the tool will supply a list of known links pointing to the specified destination. The default setting will be to display external links pointed at the specified URL, though this can be switched to show internal links as well.

Users can also change the scope to show links pointed to either a domain, as shown below, or an individual URL. Other refinements can help you search by anchor text and by keywords found on a page pointing to you.

New: SEO Reports (beta)

Get SEO analysis direct from Bing! The SEO Reports (beta) will run an SEO report every other week for any domains verified in your account. Using approximately 15 SEO best practices to scan against, it prepares a report to tell you if you are in or out of compliance with the noted best practices. These reports provide aggregated counts of all the issues found, across each of the websites scanned.

You can find these reports by periodically logging into your webmaster account. Please make sure your domains are verified, though, as we can only provide data on Bing Webmaster verified domains.

By clicking any link in the list shown in the image above, you see a deeper view of the details for that individual page.

New: SEO Analyzer (beta)

Using the same SEO best practices as the new SEO Reports (beta) feature, this tool goes well beyond what you’re used to from webmaster tools. It will scan any URL you enter from one of your verified domains and build a report to let you know if the page scanned is in or out of compliance with each best practice.

This is an on-demand tool which can scan a single page at a time – making it great for checking new pages to understand where more work may be required. Using this tool is simple: enter the URL you want scanned and hit the Analyze button. In a moment, you’ll see the results of the scan appear on the left hand side of the screen, noting compliance issues and their severity. ON the right, you’ll see the webpage appear with icons hovering over the problem spots. Click on a hover button and it will expand to explain the issue. Click Expand and it will open to fully explain the issue and why it’s an issue. The hover buttons are color coded to match the compliance issues seen on the left.

You can also toggle the view of the page through the Page Source and the Original page view, without the compliance issue hover buttons.

New: Fetch as Bingbot (beta)

See your page as Bingbot does! This will allow a webmaster to request Bingbot to crawl a specified page and display the page as the crawler sees it. This could help a webmaster to understand if Bing is actually reaching a page and, since we supply the code we see when we retrieve it, the tool makes troubleshooting easier.

To use this feature, you enter the URL you want crawled, and click the Fetch button. In just few seconds, the crawl will complete and you will see Completed to the right of the URL you requested the crawl for. Clicking onCompleted will open a code view lower on the page showing the code we found when we crawled the URL.

New: Canonical Alerts

Canonical Alerts have been enabled because we see a lot of misuse of the rel=canonical tags. Consequentially, this new alert can help protect you should you make a mistake implementing your canonicals.

An example would be a situation where all canonicals point to your home page, essentially telling us your entire website is now a single page. In such a case, we’ll send you an alert in your Bing Webmaster account, and email it to you if your Bing Webmaster Tools communication preferences are set to receive alerts. Because we’re pretty sure you didn’t mean to suggest to us you now only have a single page on your site.

Updated: URL Removal Tool

The updated URL Removal Tool allows webmasters to quickly block a page from appearing in a Bing SERP and will work much the same way as before. The main change involving this tool is that the block applied will now expire in 90 days. Within that 90 days, we’ll have recrawled the website several times, seen the 404 code on the old URL and naturally let it fall from the index. Eight days prior to the block expiring, we will email the webmaster (at the email provided in their account) to alert them and give them the option to renew the block for another 90 days.

Updated: Keyword Research Tool (beta)

Back in March we launched our organic Keyword Research Tool (beta). We’ve heard the feedback and were able to squeeze a couple refinements into this update. Before, you were limited to a single keyword or phrase per request. We’ve expanded this to allow multiple entries which will all run at the same time, helping to speed up your keyword research projects

We’ve also made updates so that the tool will now allow the selection of multiple countries under a common language – this means you can now perform research for the US, Canada and the UK under, for example, English.

A quick hover over the currency symbol brings up cost per click data from adCenter, as before, allowing you to understand costs associated with purchasing paid ads on the phrase.

Updated: URL Normalization

We’ve heard from folks that they wanted a simplified interface, and we noted some confusion from people when using the old tool, so our new version was built to address those concerns. It might have a new name, but it does the same great work as before.

A quick hover over the +More in the Suggested space will show you a drop down with even more URL parameters we’re suggesting for your site.

As we noted at the beginning of this post, we’ll take a deeper look at how to use each tool and feature in upcoming blog posts.

The update is global and you can start using the news features today by signing into your webmaster account. If you don’t have a webmaster account, sign up today.

Let us know what you think of the new tools and redesigned user experience.

Thank you,
The Bing Webmaster Team