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Bing updates focus on accuracy

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Bing responds to human errors

Microsoft search engine Bing has announced the latest changes to its service, including improved handling of web addresses, more accurate use of recourse links and better related search suggestions.

In March 2012, Bing started to share news of its service updates; something which Google has been doing since late 2011. However, Bing’s approach is different to Google’s, as it focuses on key areas rather than detailing lots of minor changes.

In Bing’s latest report, one of these areas is the way in which the search engine handles URLs, colloquially known as web addresses. When people type queries into search boxes which resemble URLs, they often make spelling or typing errors, which search engines attempt to correct.

Dr Harry Shum, Bing’s corporate vice president of research and development, said in Bing’s blog post: “Because we’re all human, people use countless spelling variants. For instance, ‘facebook.com’ has over a thousand different variants such as ‘facebookc.om’, ‘facbook.com’, and ‘ww.faceboo.omc’. On top of the spelling errors, people don’t always know the correct URL. For example, Southwest Airlines is ‘southwest.com’ but some people attempt ‘swair.com’ expecting to arrive at Southwest’s homepage.”

More streamlined results

Dr Shum explained that his team has analysed billions of sessions to identify patterns. The findings have informed the latest update, which aims to provide the most likely resource sought by the user as Bing’s top search result.

Bing has also looked at its use of recourse links, which are suggestions made by the search engine which don’t entirely match the user’s search query. Sometimes, these results have been off-topic or unnecessary – as the topic sought has yielded plentiful relevant results on its own – so Bing has made changes to reduce superfluous suggestions.

Finally, Bing has updated its relevance scoring method to provide better related search suggestions, to ensure they direct the user to the most helpful choices. For example, when someone enters ‘aol.com’, they will be presented with a list of AOL service options all beginning with ‘AOL’, such as ‘AOL Download’ – rather than a list of more wordy options which might create confusion, such as ‘Free AOL 9.0 Download’.

Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: “If effective, Bing’s changes will certainly reduce frustration for the user and help produce a more streamlined, accurate experience. Simplicity has always been key to Google’s success and it seems that Bing is picking up on this.”

Written by Liane Baddeley

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