In case you missed it, I outlined how Microsoft had patented an invention of mine in 2008 regarding web search history being displayed on a search results page (SERP). The move to simplify Bing search results that they rolled out today shows their move to a simpler, more ‘clean’ interface.
In 2007, Google launched their own ‘search history’ feature, if you read this article from Softpedia. Yahoo launched My Web in 2005, if you read the article here. At the time, Ken Norton, a former Director of Product in the Shopping, then Search, teams at Yahoo was heading up a team dedicated to leveraging social signals in search (sound familiar?) and the goal was to create a similar, delicious esque experience. Eventually, Yahoo bought delicious then sold it again for reasons that are probably only known to the board or perhaps Carol Bartz. The concept of web search history has been around at least since our invention in 2000, but it only gained significant traction as a search feature following Yahoo’s launch of My Web in 2005, then Google’s launch and then finally, the search centric integration that Microsoft won a patent for dated from 2008.
To see Bing today remove the potentially ill advised module from their search results and instead launch a retro cool, Google esque experience feels incredibly good to me as a visitor. I’ve started using Bing more recently, as Google has descended into social schlock and for multiple reasons, Bing just incentivized me in a way their points system never could to use their search technology more.
What else could Bing do to gain some share?
Selfishly, I want real competition in the search space. To do that, Bing needs to get a few things right:
* Invest in expanding their index – their coverage is still abysmal compared to Google
* Showcase and prioritize link related features for marketers – this data is gold, and you’d have the most vocal online contingent loving you if you delivered
* Create a better, more crisp delineation between advertising and natural search results – think retro Google. Sure, CTR might drop slightly, but merchant conversions go up, which enables them to spend more to reach more customers…it’s a virtuous cycle and waiting for Bing to make the right moves.
Shameless plug – Bing could also consider buying FunAdvice, or another Q&A platform, to start grabbing more long tail traffic from both Yahoo and Google. Their implementation previously wasn’t as scalable as it could be (Windows Live QnA?) and lacked a number of social features to ensure stickiness and growth. Though if they are serious about Q&A, they should buy StackExchange, as those guys have it down cold.