Continuing to experiment with ways to change and improve the search experience, Bing has introduced a new experiment called Bing Boards. Resembling a sort of inline image slide show, you find it in the Bing Social Sidebar for certain searches.
Here, you can see the positioning of the Bing Boards area, located in the second column of the search results page between related searches and the side ads.
When you click the Bing Boards area, a modal window pops up atop of the results page. This one contains a link to the blog post that inspired the images in the Bing Board.
So what exactly are Bing Boards?
Quite simply, it's an experiment with putting Pinterest-like boutique content front-and-center in search results, or at least complementing them from a sidebar next to search results. From the official Bing Boards page, it's Bing's way of "trying something new ... to see what happens."
It's quite the interesting experiment. Since its inception, the Bing Social Sidebar was used to connect you with friends and other social network connections to see relevant things your network is sharing and talking about related to your search. Bing Boards are not (necessarily) being created by people you follow or are friends with.
However, this isn't part of the Social Sidebar. It actually replaces the Social Sidebar, presumably only for certain search queries.
Bing is working with a small group of featured contributors, mostly food and lifestyle bloggers who Microsoft considers passionate thought leaders in their respective lifestyle topics. Bing is careful to point out these are individual bloggers, not companies. They even provide a link if you want to signup to contribute to Bing Boards.
At best, this looks like a positive, link-building element rewarding those applicants with unique original content. It could be the silver bullet on Bing for content marketing links. However, will this provide a boost other search engines? Will it help create conversions for the content providers?
In the post announcing Bing Boards, Program Manager for Bing Experiences, Chen Fang, said the content experts creating the boards have helped evolve the Bing Boards experience to its current release.
"As more people create and interact with Bing Boards over time, we’ll evaluate and determine how to broaden and evolve the offerings," he said.
This is clearly an experiment, as it pushes down ads and removes the social sidebar Bing has worked so hard to promote for the past few years. I went through the listed content experts and tried searching for various items from each of their blogs, but could not find additional Bing Boards. Is it worth the time and effort?
"This is the first of several upcoming social and community experiments," Fang stated. "If you see something new, play with it and see what happens – your interest might help make it a permanent part of Bing."
So, if you see it and interact with it, Microsoft may add it permanently. But will you use it? Sound off in the forums below.