Bing Introduces Conversational Search

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Google’s main competitors have a problem of perception. Despite their best efforts, most consumers see any improvements by Yahoo, Bing, and others to be mere copies of the most recent advances by Google. This is untrue because every search algorithms different. But more importantly, Bing has recently introduced a change that may revolutionize the way people use search.

conversational-understanding_12Search engines have been answering queries provided in the form of a question. So when someone asks “who was the tallest president?” the search engine knows to provide information on Abraham Lincoln and not something about Dr. Who. The new advance from Bing takes it a step further. It gives the first answer directly in the search results, but the search engine will remember and continue the conversation.  So following the first search about the tallest president, the searcher can simply ask, “who is his wife” or “how tall is he”  and  Bing maintains the context and keeps the conversation moving forward by provided the relevant information about Mary Todd and President Lincoln’s 6 ft. 4 in. height. In the Bing example, they did a search on President Obama.

“These improvements build on extensive work we have done to build out the Bing platform including investments in entity and conversational understanding,” wrote Yan Ke, the Principal Development Lead, Bing Relevance Team. “This is a long journey, and we expect to deliver a number of additional improvements in the days ahead.”

In essence, Bing knows what you talking about when you ask questions in a row. The effect is like having a conversation with a person who is very knowledgeable about the Internet. Did have the potential to make internet search easier and more intuitive for a lot of people.

There’s a chance that the radical nature of this advance may also be what leads this feature to obscurity. Internet searches have become accustomed to thinking of search queries as individual things. It would take some time and a show of practical value to convince many to adopt conversational searching. When Google first started, it took a long time for them to break searchers of the habit of using certain Boolean logic such as “or” and “and” and their searches since these terms are already included in the algorithm. The change Bing is implementing is far more in depth they’re removing a word or two from searches.

Conversational and entity search features are just some of the changes the number two search engine in America intends to unveil this year. As Ke noted in his earlier quote, Bing has other features related to this advance coming out soon. And as was mentioned in another article on this site, Bing has also updated their ad user interface to make it easier for marketers to reach audiences searching on through the Bing network.

While certainly interesting, Bing’s new conversational search feature maybe more flash than substance. It will take time to see if it has a direct effect on the way people use search engines and which one do you prefer to use. All the same, internet marketers should keep an eye on this trend. It may in fact be the start of something big,or at least, the start of something Bing.


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