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What is this Bing thing?

Bing is Microsoft’s newest search engine, which took the place of Live.com early Monday morning (Live.com now redirects to Bing). The video introducing Bing insists it is “not just a search engine. It’s a decision engine.” This rebranding positions it to snatch some of Google’s market share. Although it may be second nature for you to Google, here are some of the features that make Bing interesting.

Video Previews
The video search is one of Bing’s most impressive features. Google and other search engines have offered video search for years, but Bing has the unique functionality of in-page previews. If you were to mouse over any of the videos in the screenshot below, that video would play right in the thumbnail space. So it’s probably a good idea to make sure your brand’s videos are search engine optimized for these results.

Search Categories
Broad search terms bring up category suggestions to try searching under. For example, searching for a movie like “Star Trek” brings up categories like Cast, DVD, and Images. Searching for a product like “laptops” brings up categories like Shopping, Brands, and Buying Guide. Only the broadest of searches will bring up these suggested categories, and some only result in one category suggestion. Still, this looks like a promising feature.

Bing’s shopping feature has merged Microsoft Live’s Shopping and Cashback sites. Its search results include filters (brand, category, price), keeping you on Bing as long as possible during your purchasing decision. The cashback feature gives you a percentage of the item price you buy, but only for certain items. Apply the cashback filter to see which items apply. You can also sort by the products’ popular features. For example, when searching for laptops, these include affordability, speed, and ease of use.

Local Results
Bing’s local listings let you filter by categories, so you wouldn’t even need to visit sites like Yelp. For example, when searching for “Italian restaurants in Boston,” you can sort by rating, price, cuisine, and even parking. Reviews are brought in from sites like Yelp and Citysearch. Individual restaurant pages include a restaurant scorecard, one-click directions, and reviews from the third-party sites.

Other Notable Features:

  • Related Searches: As opposed to narrowing down your broad search with categories, related searches provides ideas for what else to search for.
  • Popular Searches: The homepage displays 3-4 search terms that are popular now.
  • Search History: Bing’s search history lets you see what you’ve searched for over the last two days.

Bing is still a product in the making. Several important features are missing that Google has, such as misspelling recognition. It doesn’t return results or offer suggestions/corrections in these cases. The some of the functionality doesn’t exist internationally yet. Even so, Bing looks like a promising search—err, decision engine.

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