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Bing copies Google, again!

You’d think that after being caught red handed copying Google (or not), the engineers at Bing would come up with something original. But copying Google is just far too easy.

Sarcasm aside, Bing announced yesterday that it has added new personalization and localization features closely resembling similar features Google has had in place for some time.

When performing searches that may be location-specific, Bing is now taking into account the searcher’s location. For instance, if you do a search for “restaurants” and you’re based in New York, Bing may display results that are more relevant to you location (eg. websites for restaurants in New York).

In addition, Bing is personalizing results for “navigational” queries based on past searches. Bing’s Aidan Crook and Sanaz Ahari explain:

…if a user issues a query such as {acs} the most relevant result
for that user is not necessarily the same as that for the majority of people in
the U.S. To numerous users with an interest in pursuing a career in chemistry,
the most relevant result may be the
American Chemical Society, but to
someone interested in how they can get involved in the fight against cancer, the
most relevant result is more likely to be the
American Cancer Society.

According to Bing, “research shows that users commonly re-issue such navigational queries and the
intent of that user rarely changes
,” so Bing thinks that looking at past search behavior and incorporating it into results can assist in making sure that Bing is offering up the most relevant SERPs. In cases where Bing has personalized results, users are notified via a message indicating that their search histories have been used.

As Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land notes, Google has been offering local and personalized results for years, albeit with some minor differences. But while Bing hasn’t added anything entirely unique or innovative here, that doesn’t mean that this news isn’t important.

With Google and Microsoft (thanks to its partnership with Yahoo) controlling the vast majority of the search market, most users are now liable to see search results that are personalized in some fashion. This, of course, has significant potential implications for SEOs, who increasingly find themselves dealing with a much more complicated landscape given that different users are seeing different results.

Over time, as personalization becomes more advanced, SEOs may find that they’ve been brought full circle to a place where the basics — things like quality content and solid markup — are once again the best and most obvious investments.

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