“Transparency” is the new watchword in the search engine blogosphere as companies strive to demonstrate their willingness to share their rankings secrets … without giving away the golden goose in the process.
Microsoft’s Bing search platform, which struggles with Yahoo for a distant second place to Google, has started a new blog called “Quality Search Insights” in an effort to keep the public, policymakers and critics informed about its updates and what it is doing to improve its search engine results pages (SERPs).
The blog debut is written by Dr. Jan Pedersen, Bing’s Chief Scientist for Core Research, and discusses concepts like “Whole Page Relevance” and “Answer Ranking.” These are two key concepts driving Bing’s SERP design and layout as well as the content contained in them. Dr. Pedersen refers to Bing’s results as “answers” rather than results as a way to emphasize his department’s goal to deliver a precise block of relevant content rather than a series of best guesses.
Some pundits believe Bing’s move will take some of the pressure off of Google, which began lifting the curtain to show the wizard’s shoes a year ago in its “Search Quality Highlights” blog. Bing’s admission that Whole Page Relevance uses the exact same strategy as Google’s Universal Search, which blends results across many vertical functions (images, maps, news, video, etc.), puts the two on the same controversial playing field.
It’s no secret that Bing is losing the search engine war. Everyone is losing to Google, and it’s a blowout. An argument could be made that Bing’s only real advantage in revealing its methodology is to show people that Google doesn’t have a monopoly on cutting-edge search strategies, and to perhaps curry favor with search engine optimization (SEO) specialists and other Web professionals who are helped by knowing such details.
Competition is good for any market, especially for one so lopsided as search, and it would be unfortunate to find that Bing’s attempt to gain a bigger share only succeeds in validating what some are calling the increasingly suspicious methods of the reigning champion.
James Madeiros is a staff writer for Sparkplug Digital, a Seattle SEO company providing SEO campaign management and link building for technology companies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org