Bing has never really been perceived as a search engine to rival Google, but lately they've been showing us that they're set to change that perception. Their latest release started rolling out on 17 September 2013 and has shown a clear leap towards offering stiff competition for Google encased in a beautiful interface. Not only are they offering features that mirror Google's offering in terms of search experience, but they're also adding some great features that Google has since taken away.
In their words, "At Bing, we understand that search is more than simply finding information, it's about taking action and gaining knowledge." With features like Page Zero and Pole Position, they're definitely starting to show us that they understand what a user wants from a search experience.
Changes To The New Bing
Bing has updated their old Snapshot - which details their intelligence about a certain subject - and their social sidebar - which details what friends in social circles know about your given search query. Both of these have been combined into one comprehensive, eye-catching sidebar that is not unlike Google's Knowledge Graph. It offers the user detailed easy-to-find search information at a glance, with social information residing below.
Another advance that ties in with similar features that Google offers is something that Bing calls Page Zero. It works in the same way as rich snippets do on Google, whereby marked up data can be represented in search results as deep site links. These links are basically a direct route to popular, useful information within websites that has been identified as important by site owners.
Pole Position is another new feature that offers an extremely intelligent return on queries typed into the search engine. Bing has adapted their algorithm to provide a richer return on information for subjects or search queries that they are confident they've interpreted correctly. User intent can mask a query substantially, but based on data from millions of search queries, they're able to deliver premium content and results at the top of your search results page that tie in directly to your query.
New Design For Any Device
In line with the massive transition to more mobile search, Bing has delivered a deliciously appealing responsive design that has been built from mobile and tablet screens up to your larger desktop screens and laptops. It renders with different screen designs and layouts offered per device, taking touchscreen functionality into account.
Keyword Research Tool
Since the Keyword Tool has been removed from Google Adwords, there has been a lot of hype about how the Bing keyword tool offers you more tangible information in terms of keywords and search volumes. I found it to be a little vague and lacking in precision, however, it does give you the option to search within the last month, or a custom timeframe, which is especially beneficial if you're looking at trends during a particular timeframe. On the plus side, it's really easy to use and it offers data that is not only specific to paid search volumes, but rather to organic volumes.
The conspiracy theorist in me likes to think that Bing is trying to make up for prominent SEO aids and tools that Google has rendered ineffective, and perhaps they are trying to fill that gap in a bid to get site owners to optimize for Bing as opposed to Google?
What are your thoughts?