This week Microsoft announced that it was rolling out an update for Bing, which would not only add a new logo for the search engine, but would also be making a few significant changes to the layout of the SERPs and even the speed with which instant results are generated.
This is potentially good news for both web users and site owners, at least if it means that relevant results will get more clicks and generate increased traffic, as a result of the changes.
Bing’s minimalistic new logo is designed to be in keeping with Microsoft’s other products, giving it greater consistency with Windows 8. The landing page for the search site has been altered to reflect this, although the rest of the design is fairly similar to what was seen before, with a big focus on bold photographic imagery and top links located at the bottom.
Once a search term has been entered, however and the main SERP appears, the significant differences will be apparent for any regular users of Bing.
Images no longer appear clustered in a group, but span an entire bar running along the top of the screen. Below this and to the right is Satorii, which is Microsoft’s take on Google’s Knowledge Graph, taking up a much bigger area than in previous iterations, to draw the user’s attention to the links it contains.
Bing’s biggest new feature is the ominously titled Page Zero, which is effectively the autosuggest service, but on steroids.
As soon as keywords are being typed, it will come up with automatic suggestions for what the user might be seeking, which is no big change. But alongside this, it will also display a photo of the person, place or object, along with tabs for the latest news about it or them and even gossip, which ties into the power of celebrity and pop culture.
Images and videos get included in the content available through Page Zero and this could completely change the way users click on links, or at least the way in which content is accessed and aggregated, so it will be interesting to analyse whether this has any impact over the next few weeks and months.
Microsoft has also taken a stab at recreating the features of Google Now, in a service called Pole Position, which automatically pulls up information relating to weather, or other context-sensitive data, so that it appears directly under the search bar for certain results.
Bing’s rebranding and updating has not been purely carried out to target the desktop market, as Microsoft said that it has been fully optimised for portable devices with touchscreen displays, with correctly displayed content easier to browse, irrespective of the operating system which is being used.
This means Windows Phone fans will be joined by Android and iOS owners in being able to better use Bing while out and about.
Microsoft has established a preview of Bing’s new form, which can be toyed with before the rollout has been completed.