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Bing Revamps Search, Introduces Three-column Design

On May 10, Bing unveiled the company's most significant improvement to search in three years, a revamped version of its search engine. In essence, the new Bing introduces a fresh take on social search. The updated search engine will be accessible to U.S. users in the coming days, and will reach a global audience in a few weeks.

What's New, Bing?

Social information will be removed from Bing's organic search results, something that Google still practices. According to Bing, "We're honoring the purity of the core web results making it easier to focus on the links you need to get things done." As a result, the new look is "clear, more organized, and to the point," says Arbi Alexandri, Director of Operations at Submit Express.

Bing's Makeover

The new Bing features a three column design, offering users three different search results on one page: core search, snapshot, and sidebar. Core search is Bing's main search algorithm, or search engine, while the snapshot, the center column, features additional information related to the query, such as maps, reviews, and restaurant reservations, so that users can take action. Since social information is no longer included in Bing's core search results, it has a new hangout: the third column, or sidebar on the right hand side of the page.

The new social sidebar is completely dedicated to social search, featuring social results directly related to a user's query. It features four interactive elements: Ask Friends, Friends Who Might Know, People Who Know, and Activity Feed.

While the social information in the sidebar will always be available, users have the freedom to choose when and how they react to it. For example, when Ask Friends is activated, users can post a question about a product or service on Facebook as they search the web. When Friends Who Might Know is activated, Bing can suggest friends on Facebook who might know about your inquiry based on what they "like" in their Facebook profile information.

Why the New Look?

According to Bing, search is about more than finding information; it's also about "taking action," such as booking a hotel, purchasing a new dress, or reading an article. The new Bing aims to help users successfully get something done online by providing them with not only relevant information about their queries, but also connecting them to friends or experts so they can make a well-informed decision.

- Melanie Saxe

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May 11, 2012