Bing is making more strides. Last week they redesigned the Bing search experience. They continued on that enhanced search experience continues with the release of iOS 7 last week. One of the little-reported new features of iOS 7 is Bing has now become the back-end for web searches using Siri.
Bringing the "outside the search box" experience to the latest version of Apple's operating system is exactly what Bing is about. Results appear right within the Siri screen. There's no need for an external browser.
There's also a new Bing app for iPhone. With homepage tiles, the Bing for iOS experience becomes more natural and user-centric. Buttons enable quick sharing to Facebook or Twitter. You can even take a quick screen-shot of a search result, image result or the Bing homepage image. A new menu allows you to quickly tap for other Microsoft products like Office Mobile, SkyDrive and OneNote for iOS.
The Siri integration and new iPhone app are part of Bing's larger initiative to provide useful doing, instead of just searching.
One of the new features released in the redesigned Bing is a feature called Page Zero. Page Zero truly sums up the Bing mantra of "Bing is for doing." Combining autosuggest with Snapshot information and action buttons, Page Zero allows you to find what you want and take next-level actions right from the search box.
Powered by its Satori back-end, Bing suggests auto-completions as you type, returning suggestions in 400 milliseconds. Some of those autosuggestions contain a right-facing caret. Hovering over that caret icon displays snapshot information and – in many cases – action items.
For example, a search for sports teams turns up a brief description, logo and links to news, videos, tickets and recent scores. Searches for celebrities yield similar results, replacing actions with images, videos and biography information. Some actors even have a link for their filmography. All of these results happen without even clicking. In some cases, the first suggestion contains the Page Zero experience when you haven't even completed the query.
As webmasters, this becomes a powerful tool and makes that ranking for that "first page" all the more challenging. Bing's Page Zero takes SEO to a whole new level. Search Engine Watch reached out to Bing asking if anything webmasters can do to see their brands and products get included for the Page Zero experience.
"Bing selects content which consumers have proved to find trusted and engaging, and the best way for brands to be found by Bing and connect with consumers is to provide good, relevant content," said a Microsoft spokesperson.
But what about Schema.org and other microformat data? The Microsoft answer was straightforward.
"While schema.org helps us understand entities, it does not play a role in rankings," Microsoft's spokesperson said.
Webmasters should take note. Various schema/microformat markup has been sometimes called a "magic bullet" for SEO. In the Bing world, this clearly isn't the case.
What is certain is that Bing's Page Zero experience will change the way users search. Bing market share is increasing and is now the back-end for web searches on Siri, Facebook, Xbox 360, and soon Xbox One. The impact on SEO might not be as instant as a Page Zero result. But Bing's reach is spreading slowly and steadily. Are you ready for it?