When it comes to search engine results, there has typically been a clear distinction between the organic search results and the paid search results. The former is decided through various factors, while the latter is provided by companies wishing to use pay per click to get more visitors to their websites.
However things look to be changing – at least they could be when it comes to using the Bing search engine. Bing is currently experimenting with mixing the two different formats together, making it a little more difficult for the searcher to easily distinguish between the two.
Here are some of the key facts to bear in mind concerning this change:
1. Instead of having panels above and to the side of the organic search results featuring paid adverts, Bing is mixing them together
2. The adverts appear within the organic listings
3. They are discernible only by the small word ‘ad’ that appears to the right hand side of the advert
It has been reported that this is a test and nothing more, but it remains to be seen whether it is rolled out in a wider sense or whether it is dropped completely. It is something that has been tried before by Yahoo and also to a certain extent by Google. But this is the first time that Bing has tried it.
What does it mean for people using the Bing search engine?
The answer to this depends on whether the test is rolled out on a wider scale. At the time of writing we performed a few searches to see if we could find any ads placed within the organic results. Nothing came to light, so perhaps the test has already come to an end. However it remains to be seen whether this is the case or whether other testing will take place in the near future.
But it also has potential issues which could arise for people who are relying on a good SEO company or PPC consultant for their website’s performance to get them ranked highly in the natural search engine results or getting traffic through their paid ads in Bing. One screenshot of a search page using the technique had the top three organic results shown first, followed by a couple of paid ads. Clearly the remainder of the organic results on page one would be pushed down as a result of the adverts appearing. This is not something that would be desirable for many people looking to do well organically.
The general feeling towards this kind of layout of the organic and paid search results doesn’t seem to be very positive. This could therefore mean that Bing will ditch the experiment and go back to showing their results in the same format as the other major search engines do.
Bing is placed third in the list of search engines with the highest volume of searches each month. Google is way out in front but undoubtedly Bing is trying to make more of a name for itself. The question is whether this is the way to do it – or not.