Some say Google is God. Others say Google is Satan. But if they think Google is too powerful, remember that with search engines, unlike other companies, all it takes is a single click to go to another search engine. – Sergey Brin, Google co-founder
A war began on June 1, 2009 and it has been raging ever since; this is the date that Bing was launched. All throughout the current decade, Bing has been struggling to cover ground and convert users from Google to the Microsoft-owned and operated platform. By and large, the company’s attempts have been futile — Google still holds nearly 64 percent of the marketshare. And while this number is slightly down from previous comScore reports, Bing still has a long way to go before it can become the dominant platform.
There are some, however, who think that this shift in authority is a feasible outcome. Douglas Rushkoff, author and media theorist, has noted that, “In spite of my own reservations about Bing’s ability to convert Google users, I have to admit that the search engine does offer a genuine alternative to Google-style browsing, a more coherently organized selection of links, and a more advertiser-friendly environment through which to sell space and links.”
It is also worth noting that from 2008 to 2015, Microsoft search engine properties are the only sites to continuously grow in market share each and every year; a feat not even Google can claim. In that time, Microsoft search engine sites more than doubled their share of the market, starting at 8.3 percent and since leaping to a respectable 21.1 percent. And, as many have predicted, Bing has been busy testing new features in an attempt to capture more of the market.
On May 9, it was first discovered and reported by Ruben Gomez of All Google Testing that Bing is currently experimenting with displaying tweets in the search engine results pages. This was later confirmed to be true by a Microsoft spokesperson. The individual was quoted as saying, “We’re constantly updating and refining the Bing search experience. We’ll share more information when available.”
Bing is tentatively introducing tweets into SERPs via carousel formatting; in near identical fashion to how Google displays tweets in its SERPs. For screenshots on the potential new layout and information on how to conduct this experiment for yourself through Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer browsers, check out the original posting from Ruben Gomez.
If you find yourself strangely perplexed and experiencing a bit of déjà vu, you’re not crazy. Way back in 2009, when Bing first launched, the company announced in an official blog post that it would be integrating with Twitter:
“There has been much discussion of real-time search and the premium on immediacy of data that has been created primarily by Twitter. We’ve been watching this phenomenon with great interest, and listening carefully to what consumers really want in this space. Today we’re unveiling an initial foray into integrating more real time data into our search results, starting with some of the more prominent and prolific Twitterers from a variety of spheres. This includes Tweets from folks from our own search technology and business sphere like Danny Sullivan or Kara Swisher as well as those from spheres of more general consumer appeal like Al Gore or Ryan Seacrest. Starting later today, when you search for these folks names in association with Twitter, you’ll see their latest Tweets come up in real time on Bing’s search results.”
While this was never a full-blown integration and only catered to a select few, Bing must not have found the mixture to be worthwhile; over the years, the feature quietly slipped out of existence. With Bing bringing back the forsaken feature, what exactly does this mean for businesses and marketers?
Bing is Back on, Baby!
Considering that Google has become a completely ubiquitous force and staple in most people’s daily lives, many businesses and marketers pay little attention to boosting their site’s prevalence on Bing and other less-used search engines. While it has been noted before that this is a dire mistake, the potential inclusion of tweets within the search results immensely amplifies this blunder.
This decision is likely to have little, if any, impact on your SEO efforts with Google — there are other ramifications to consider. As the competition on Bing is far less fierce and cluttered than with Google, it is substantially easier to rank with the Microsoft-driven engine. And with social media postings appearing on search engine results, there must be a correlation between social signals and SEO. While it is still quite muddled and secretive as to how exactly social signals impact SEO, as Larry Alton noted in his recent Entrepreneur article, is seems to be more than just causation at play.
Armed with this information, it could be implied that business and marketers can greatly make up for what they are lacking with Google in the Bing SERPs. If Bing does ultimately incorporate tweets into its rankings, this means that social signals will effectively be playing some sort of role in regards to Bing SEO as well. What this boils down to is that if your company is not already utilizing Bing for its SEO efforts, now is the time to start; before tweets are officially integrated.
While Bing may not seem significant in comparison to Google, don’t forget that Bing’s 21.1 percent of the market share equates to millions of people that you can be reaching through the engine. And these folks will ultimately find your social channels, website, blog, and whatever other properties you have online, through a single tweet ranked by Bing.
What other implications might Bing’s integration of tweets have for marketers and business owners? Do you think the feature will stick this time around, or fade like it did in 2009?