On April 24th, Bing announced that they have begun testing search pages that will begin to show search results pages with as few as 4-8 results. Bing dynamically generates these results pages based on CTR data, which showed that users don’t find the bottom results click worthy. More direct (branded) queries will most likely get the shorter results page and more exploratory searches (example: “looking for insurance”) will receive more. There are a number of important points to consider as to what this change really means from a strategy and reporting standpoint.
Your Success Metrics
Do you currently look at priority keywords that are in the first page of search results as a key performance indicator? A majority of the enterprise level reporting suites calculate the first page as positions 1-10. If the Bing result page is dynamically changing between 4-12 results, it would be a good idea to re-evaluate those success metrics for your Bing data.
Positions 1-4 (The New First Page)
In light of these changes from Bing, there needs to be some adjustments to goal setting in reporting on natural search positions. Instead of looking at the first page (1-10), you need to begin looking at positions 1-4 as the new first page, especially for branded terms which should receive high click-through rates. You want to ensure that you’re in one if not two of those top four positions or run the risk of not even showing at all.
Updating Your Success Metrics
Search is a reactive and organic industry. Staying on top of changes in search results and user interaction is vital to offering the best recommendations to increase search engagement. Bing has stated that this change has been rolled out as of April 22nd and that we will begin to see it affecting search results pages quickly.
Currently, most enterprise reporting suites are not accounting for Bing’s new dynamic search engine result pages. It is essential to re-align reporting best practices and success metrics to reflect these changes so search professional are making decisions on correct information. If Bing’s change creates happy users and higher amounts of qualified traffic, we might expect Google to follow in the near future.