Bing Local Notes

Tonight, I spent a little time on Microsoft’s new search engine (or as they call it, decision engine), Bing. For the past couple of weeks, industry news has been spangled with discussions about whether Bing has the power to give Google a run for their money and Greg Sterling has even pointed out some compelling reasons why big Google might not mind little Bing having a bit of success. I’ve read a handful of the articles that have been making the rounds, but my own interest is more geared to how Bing is handling local-type queries. Here are a few things I’ve noticed.

– Bing’s 10-Pack is an 8 Pack. I wonder why they chose to show 8 results instead of 10. Maybe just trying to be a little different.

– Bing appears to be following Google’s lead in regards to IP targeting non-geographically-modified searches. In other words, if I do a search for ‘Chinese restaurant’, Bing is showing me local businesses.

– I did a bunch of searches in Bing’s Organic and Maps results and it appears that all Ratings are being pulled from just 3 sources: Judysbook, CitySearch and Yelp. I like the fact that Bing is transparent about that.

– In addition to pulling all of the ratings from those three sources, it appears that Bing is only showing reviews from those sources, too. This makes their review portfolio much less diverse than Google’s, but they are doing something else of interest:

Bing is giving local searchers the option to click on information snippets from further outside sources such as Frommers and Dine.com. That’s an interesting approach.

– Now here’s the part where I’m seeing something pretty nifty and un-Google-like. Look at this review score card with the option to see reviews that pertain to specific qualities of a business, in this case, a hotel:

Mike Blumenthal was recently explaining to me his theories on how the use of adjectives in reviews may affect Location Prominence. Google appears to be taking descriptive words from user reviews and utilizing them to present results for searches that are refined with adjectives (clean hotel, dirty restaurant, helpful therapist, etc.)

Bing is taking a somewhat different, yet reminiscent, approach to anticipating users’ more refined needs by presenting them with scores on the types of data they might want to know (cleanliness, atmosphere, quality of stay, etc.) I like the care for the user’s needs that is apparent in this score card.

– Bing is offering a Report Abuse link with their reviews, but I was not seeing any easy way for a community-type edit as is featured in Google’s wiki-like Maps. I came across a local restaurant with an incorrectly listed business title, but I saw no way to edit it. If I missed it, Bing needs to make it more obvious.

Will Bing Best Google In the Local Game?
I doubt it. Not any time soon. I like much of what I see them doing after my first real sit-down experience using Bing to search for local businesses, but I’ve got the Google habit so deeply ingrained in my blood now, I can’t really picture myself choosing to use Bing over Google for this type of search. I can only come to the conclusion that I’m hypocritical sometimes. I am uncomfortable with Google’s massive power and I strongly believe competition is healthy, but my conscience isn’t urging me to storm out of Google’s domain and give my support elsewhere. Not while Google matters most to my clients. Not while the services offered elsewhere remain equal to or less than.

Has anyone else turned up anything interesting about how Bing is handling Local? I’d like to know what you’ve seen.

5 Responses to “Bing Local Notes”

  1. on 13 Jun 2009 at 8:31 am LeadLocal

    Thanks a lot for the detailed summary. Very interested in the way how Bing will develop their local search in the near future and if they are able to come up with some new features Google has not even thought about yet!

  2. on 14 Jun 2009 at 12:47 pm admin

    Welcome LeadLocal, and I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

  3. on 18 Jun 2009 at 1:25 pm earlpearl

    Nice write up Miriam. Its an interesting set of comments and contrast.

    Ultimately I’m less concerned with Bing, and bing local until they start seeing more traffic. In fact from my perspective, traffic from bing on my main phrases is sort of like long tail or 2ndary or tertiary phrases from Google.

    On the other hand, Google’s combination of massive usage of maps inserted into google.com searches…and the combinations of spam, hijackings, and the vagueries of how google maps presents information suggest that alternatives such as Bing must be publicized and even touted.

    How else might the big guy, Google improve? Alternatively, how might another engine that is doing things better and merits more traffic get the publicity it should receive.

    thanks for the analysis.

  4. on 19 Jun 2009 at 1:08 pm admin

    Hi Dave,
    I guess there is spam in Bing Local as well as G. Maps, the difference being that Bing’s local results have to be accessed rather than being given front page prominence…which, frankly, may be a better route to go with such imperfect data. As we both know, Google has put a mess at the top of their SERPs for many, many searches. And is apparently happy to let it sit that way, even in their own home town of Mountain View.

    MS has launched an expensive advertising campaign for Bing, which should trickle some users down to their Local feature, I’m guessing, whereas Google has left knowledge of Local up to word-of-mouth and close encounters with the 10-pack in their Universal SERPs.

    I’d love to see Google do an ad (or even a YouTube video!) introducting their Local product to the masses.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dave. It’s always a real pleasure to see you here.
    Miriam

  5. on 29 Jun 2009 at 5:30 am Shagun Vatsa

    This is a very insightful write up on Bing Local. It’s interesting to see how Bing local search evolves and compares to Google’s local platform. Bing is definitely a step ahead with their review score card!

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