Anyone notice the new search engine tool on MSN today?

Microsoft launched its new search tool “Bing” today, earlier than expected, and apparently it has refueled the search engine war!

And if you use MSN as your home page you may have noticed the new search bar at the top of the page today. I did, and then later today, I found an interesting article from a link on my Technology and Software News page that talked about the new tool.

What does it mean to us, as small business owners, though?

Well, the new search tool’s design goals were to deliver great results and a more organized experience for the user, added to which it’s supposed to help users make decisions more confidently by simplifying tasks and providing insight.
If the new search tool lives up to its design expectations, helping users make decisions more confidently will definitely be a bonus, considering that 66 percent of people use search engines to make complicated decisions.
What I think it also means is Google and Yahoo will no doubt follow suit with even more powerful search engines, which will not ony help users find what they are looking for and help them make more informed decisions, but it is also good news for the small business website owner.
The benefit of deep searches, that the new Bing search engine will carry out, will be an increase in traffic to small business websites from search engine results pages… provided these websites are professionally designed using web-standard code, updated regularly with well-written and relevant content and search engine optimized.

So, what’s so different about this new search tool?

I checked it out and noticed a couple of cool features: one will enhance the users search experience; the other will definitely help users decide whether a site’s worth visiting or not.
Firstly, when you carry out multiple searches, a list of all previous searches you’ve made appears to the left of the main search results list, so you don’t have to hit the back button to find them. You can also click to view a page of all the websites you visited during your search session.
Secondly, to the right of each search result is a little icon that appears as you hover over the result. At first, I thought this was only aethetics but then realized when you hover over it a pop-up appears with snippets of information derived from the website’s content. The pop-up also includes a few links to other pages on the website. What a great feature!
Of course, it only worked for websites with text-based content and I also noticed there were no additional links to pages on websites with image based links in the menu bars.
Now, I’m not too sure how it picks and chooses which snippets of information to display as it seemed to be fairly random, sometimes headings and content near the top of the page, sometimes content from further down the page , but one thing is for sure… if there’s no content, because it’s a flash website for example, there’s nothing to display on the pop-up.
Given the choice between two sites, one which lets the user know what they’re going to find if they visit, versus one that doesn’t, I know which one I’d be more likely to click to!
Furthermore, even the best search engines out there won’t find a dormant website that uses badly written source code, has little to no text-based content and which has not been search engine optimized.
Read article on Yahoo News about how Bing is escalating search engine wars and then contact Kaz Design Works to have your out-dated website redesigned and search engine optimized.
PS: Another thing I noticed: This new pop-up feature only works on unpaid listings… I think that gives smaller businesses who can’t afford PPC advertising an advantage over the “sponsored” websites!