There was once a boy named Bing who was rich. However, there was a more popular boy named Google who was notably richer. Bing strived to reach the opulence that Google had attained and became known for, but all of the new toys Bing bought did little to bring him closer to the eminence of the beloved Google. Bing eventually got weary of being unsatisfied with the return on his investments, and took the bravely modest step of becoming a minimalist.
You’ve heard the maxims: less is more, money can’t buy happiness, the best things in life aren’t things, get rich or die trying. Well that last one is a bit different than the others, and one that Bing has rescinded from its favorite quotes section on Facebook. The Microsoft owned search engine is moving away from the feature heavy, everything-you-could-ever-need-in-your-face approach, and embracing a cleaner, less cluttered version of its search engine results pages. This is a drastic change in direction, evidently with the purpose of completely differentiating from the highly decorated Google SERP.
The most salient changes are concerning the evisceration of the left sidebar, which previously hosted related searches and search history, as well as a simplified and more subtle logo and top navigation. The related searches have been relocated and now reside beneath the ads on the right sidebar.
Compare that against the old Bing results page:
What kind of impact will this have on paid search ads? Ads could potentially benefit from this change, as there is really nothing else to look at other than search ads and organic search results. The previous Bing design, and the current Google design, included various options above the fold that essentially competed with search results for the eye’s attention. I could see Bing ad click through rates improving due to less overall click options.
Perhaps Bing is coming to terms with the stark realization that their algorithm will never be as technologically advanced as Google’s, so the logical strategy is to now rely on display aesthetics to win over searchers. Interestingly Bing is not providing the option to revert to the old format, but is instead fully embracing the uncluttered cleanliness of the new design. There is backfire potential here, as some Bing loyalists that may have been in love with the old display are now feeling forced into this new design that they didn’t ask for.
Time will tell if the minimalist spirit will manifest and amplify Bing’s market share to lofty new heights. It will also be interesting to see how Google reacts, if at all. Bing has claimed that they are not yet finished with the design, so we will likely see more alterations soon. It is now the time for us searchers to choose what we prefer, more or less.