If you counted on Microsoft’s Live Search” search engine to drive online conversions to your website, you’re in for a rude awakening.

How Bing Search Engine Will Reduce Online Conversions - Design Marketing Firm Phoenix AZWhy?  Microsoft launched Bing, their new search engine a little over a week ago – they’re actually calling it a decision engine, as Aaron covered recently.

The decision factor is certainly something that Microsoft thinks will give them a leg up on Google and Yahoo (more so Google).  Some of the usability features in the new Bing search engine which help the user make a decision are:

  • Related keyword search results, along w/ (only) the Top 5 results of the user’s original query.  This doesn’t happen for every query used, but Bing does attempt to “guess” what you’re searching for and expands on the search w/ 3 search results for approx. 5 related queries.
  • Bing utilizes AJAX scripting to show a “preview” pane for most search results.

The Bing interface utilizes AJAX scripting to showcase the website previews and was discussed by Scott Grizzle of NeXplore Corporation a developer of web tools and interactive advertising products:

“Bing is purported to have some pretty interesting features that make search more efficient such as a website preview pane, video preview, and helpful groupings of search-results by category,” said Scott Grizzle, chief marketing officer for NeXplore Corporation. Continue reading in AJAX World Magazine (6/1/09)

Sample screenshot of Bing preview pane (click image to view larger size):

How Bing Search Engine Will Reduce Online Conversions - Design Marketing Firm Phoenix AZ

Sample preview pane in Bing search results

Ok, so Bing likes to provide a variety of useful results and a preview… How does that affect you?

Reduced Visitor Traffic
There are two points to make regarding reduced traffic:

  1. The related query matching and limited search results for query will require you to be ranked in the Top 5 search results if you expect to be found for the primary search phrase, and in the Top 3 results for the related queries.  The work required to get your site in the Top 5 versus the Top 10 previously, puts a lot of added pressure on SEO companies and marketing directors.  Do you increase your budgets to accommodate the changes in Bing or just continue down the same path trying to get in Google and being happy w/ the Yahoo and Microsoft results you acquired?
  2. If a visitor can preview content from your website, get your phone number and/or email off of the preview window, the likelihood of them continuing on to your website is decreased. They already have the info to contact you. If the visitor is already aware of your product/service (e.g. a cyclical customer), they probably just need your phone number and you lose a visit to your website.

Lower Online Conversions
If the visitor can get the information to contact you and or complete their transaction by telephone (vs. online), then you could see a reduction in online conversions.  For sites that offer online reservations, the reduction in online conversions could be even more evident.

It is still to early to say w/ 100% certainty that Bing will prove less effective for online marketing strategies, but if you aren’t able to measure the offline conversions from the web, you’re certainly going to have a harder time tracking ROI from Bing.

How Bing Search Engine Will Reduce Online Conversions - Design Marketing Firm Phoenix AZ