Bing Expands Rewards Incentives to UK Users

August 2, 2017

We learn from the Verge that Microsoft is expanding its bribery, I mean, rewards program to the UK in, “Microsoft Is Now Paying People to Use Bing in the UK with its Rewards Scheme.” Referring to points a user accrues by using Bing, writer Tom Warren details:

The points can then be transferred to a number of different rewards, including Xbox digital gift cards, Groove Music passes, and Skype credit. Microsoft is also partnering with a number of UK charities so you can donate points to these organizations instead. Microsoft Rewards works almost identically in the UK as it does in the US. You’ll get 3 points per Bing search, and this is doubled (until August 15th) if you’re using Microsoft Edge. You can obtain a maximum of 30 points per day (60 points using Edge) through searches, or participate in quizzes to gain more. Microsoft also gives out 1 point for every pound spend at the UK online Microsoft Store. If you manage to hit 500 points in a month, there’s a second level with better rewards and the ability to earn a maximum of 150 points a day.

Is this program enough to pull a significant number of Google users Bing’s way? Perhaps the expansion overseas is an indication that it has been a success in the US. Either way, it is too bad Bing must stoop to buying traffic and click love.

Cynthia Murrell, August 2, 2017

Bing Introduces an Image Feed

June 30, 2017

Here’s a short write-up about a notable addition to Bing —On MSFT reports, “Bing Image Search Updated with Image Feed, Taking on Pinterest.” After noting that the Tools menu has been renamed “Filter” and moved to the right of the screen, writer Jack Wilkinson explains:

A new feature has also appeared, known as Image Feed, which replaces where Tools originally used to be placed. Image Feed allows you to choose a feed of images…. When selecting an image feed to look at, it allows you to follow it as an ‘interest’, so that you can see new images in a feed. Your personalised image feed can be accessed here. By the looks of it, it appears as though Bing’s new image feed is taking a hit at Pinterest – bringing all the images you could want into one place via a feed, in similar fashion to Pinterest.

Yes, this could certainly replace Pinterest for many users, especially ones who already frequent Bing. I had noticed the refine-by-keyword list at the top of Google’s image results page is formatted much like the one on my Pinterest account. Will that online search platform, still number one by far, also implement a Pinterest-like image feed? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, June 30, 2017

Scadarlia Refines Internet Search Results

June 27, 2017

You can add a touch of arts-and-crafts to your online searches with a third-party preview-and-notation app—“Scadarlia: New Approach to Search Engines Using.” The promo page includes a video and is full of illustrative screenshots. What interests us is the way Scadarlia evaluates the relevance of each result. The Softpedia download page goes into the tech behind the folksy-looking add-on:

The program prompts you with a main window that is split into two sections, which should reinterpret your approach to search engines. While the left section is dedicated to keywords as well as the list of results the search engine considers suitable for your inquiry, the right panel shows the URL you want to analyze in detail. While this may look like a program packing ordinary browser-like capability, it is not. In fact, the application differentiates itself through its ability to follow a series of rules when displaying the results of a Google or Bing search. It can analyze the position of your keywords within your page, making sure that they are as close to one another as possible, since this is what makes them more representative for what you have in mind.

Other features include the color-coding sites by usefulness and the abilities to blacklist sites and to create stop words. The full version can be downloaded for $9.95 from its Softpedia page.

Cynthia Murrell, June 27, 2017

Bing Focuses on Chatbots

June 21, 2017

Chatbot enthusiasts may want to turn to Bing, because now “Bing Makes it Easier to Find Chat Bots,” according to SearchEngine Journal.” Writer Matt Southern reveals:

Bing has released an update designed to make it easier to find chat bots for instant messaging platforms. Searching for a command such as ‘travel bots’ will return a dedicated answer box where you can browse through chat bots for Facebook, Skype, Slack, and Telegram. Bots can be added to messaging platforms directly from search results by clicking on the ‘Add bot’ button. Bing is piloting a test program which allows searchers to interact with chat bots on Bing itself. Searching for specific restaurants in the Seattle area can return a dedicated bot which you can chat with for more information about the restaurant.

Bing hopes to expand the restaurant service to more cities “eventually.” Meanwhile, they have been developing an InfoBot to answer users’ questions with entries from Wikipedia and, later, from other information sites like WebMD and AllRecipies. We’re also told that developers can use the Microsoft Bot Framework to design Bing chatbots, which may be made available to users after a review process.

Cynthia Murrell, June 21, 2017

Microsoft Offers Android Users a (Weak) Bing Incentive

May 4, 2017

It looks like Microsoft has stooped to buying traffic for Bing; that cannot bode well.  OnMSFT reports, “Set Bing as Your Search Engine on iPhone or Android, Get a Microsoft Rewards $5 Gift Card.”  Paradoxically, they don’t seem terribly anxious to spread the word. Reporter Kareem Anderson writes:

Sleuthers over in the Reddit forums have dug up a neat little nugget of savings for iPhone and Android users. According to a thread at the Xbox One subreddit, iPhone and Android users who set their default search engine to Bing can receive a Microsoft Rewards $5 gift card. The details were originally pulled from a Microsoft site instructing users on how to make the change from Google to Bing on smartphone devices. We should note that the redemption process hasn’t been without its issues as several Android users have mentioned that it has not worked or appears delayed in confirming the release of gift cards.

So, they’ve created an incentive, but are not promoting it or, apparently, fulfilling it effectively—talk about mixed messages! Still, if you use an Android device and are inclined toward Bing, but haven’t yet set it as your default browser, you may be able to profit a little by doing so.  Anderson shares a link to the Microsoft Rewards page for our convenience.

Cynthia Murrell, May 4, 2017

Bing Improvements

February 17, 2017

Online marketers are usually concerned with the latest Google algorithm, but Microsoft’s Bing is also a viable SEO target. Busines2Community shares recent upgrades to that Internet search engine in its write-up, “2016 New Bing Features.” The section on the mobile app seems to be the most relevant to those interested in Search developments. Writer Asaf Hartuv tells us:

For search, product and local results were improved significantly. Now when you search using the Bing app on an iPhone, you will get more local results with more information featured right on the page. You won’t have to click around to get what you want.

Similarly, when you search for a product you want to buy, you will get more options from more stores, such as eBay and Best Buy. You won’t have to go to as many websites to do the comparison shopping that is so important to making your purchase decision.

While these updates were made to the app, the image and video search results were also improved. You get far more options in a more user-friendly layout when you search for these visuals.

The Bing app also includes practical updates that go beyond search. For example, you can choose to follow a movie and get notified when it becomes available for streaming. Or you can find local bus routes or schedules based on the information you select on a map.

Hartuv also discusses upgrades to Bing Ads (a bargain compared to Google Ads, apparently), and the fact that Bing is now powering AOL’s search results (after being dropped by Yahoo). He also notes that, while not a new feature, Bing Trends is always presenting newly assembled, specialized content to enhance users’ understanding of current events. Hartuv concludes by prompting SEO pros to remember the value of Bing.

Cynthia Murrell, February 17, 2017

Bing Gets Nostalgic

January 25, 2017

In my entire life, I have never seen so many people who were happy to welcome in a New Year.  2016 will be remembered for violence, political uproar, and other stuff that people wish to forget.  Despite the negative associations with 2016, other stuff did happen and looking back might offer a bit of nostalgia for the news and search trends of the past year.  On MSFT runs down a list of what happened on Bing in 2016,“Check Out The Top Search Trends On Bing This Past Year.”

Rather than focusing on a list of just top searches, Bing’s top 2016 searches are divided into categories: video games, Olympians, viral moments, tech trends, and feel good stories.  More top searches are located over at Bing page.  However, on the top viral trends it is nice to see that cat videos have gone down in popularity:

Ryder Cup heckler

Villanova’s piccolo girl

Powerball

Aston Martin winner

Who’s the mom?

Evgenia Medvedeva

Harambe the gorilla

#DaysoftheWeek

Cats of the Internet

Pokemon Go

On a personal level, I am surprised that Harambe the gorilla outranked Pokemon Go.  Some of these trends I do not even remember making the Internet circuit and I was on YouTube and Reddit for all of 2016.  I have been around enough years to recognize that things come and go and 2016 might have come off as a bad year for many, in reality, it was another year.  It also did not forecast doomsday.  That was back in 2000, folks.  Get with the times!

Whitney Grace, January 25, 2017

Searchy Automates Your Search Parameters

January 25, 2017

The article on FileForum Beta News titled Searchy for Windows 0.5.1 promises users the ability to gain more control over their search parameters and prevent wasted time on redundant searches.  By using search scopes, categories, and search templates, Searchy claims to simplify and organize search. The service targets users who tend to search for similar items all day, and makes it easier for those users to find what they need without all that extra typing. The article goes into more detail,

Your daily routine consists of lots repetitive searches? With Searchy you can automate that. Just write a template for similar search queries and stop typing the same things over and over… Search using Google’s and Bing’s web, image, video and news search engines. Often performing searches on same websites? Spending much time on advanced search filters in Google or Bing? Searchy will simplify that too. Just add scopes for the websites and search filters, and use them like a boss.

Searchy was developed by freelance developer Alex Kaul, who found that entering the same phrase over and over in Google was annoying. By automating the search phrase, Searchy enables users to skip a step. It may be a small step, but as we all know, a small task when completed one hundred times a day becomes a very large and tiresome one.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 25, 2017

Microsofts Researcher Feature Offers Shortcut to Finding Sources

January 23, 2017

The article titled Microsoft Launches Researcher and Editor in Word, Zoom in PowerPoint on VentureBeat discusses the pros and cons of the new features coming to Office products. Editor is basically a new and improved version of spellcheck that goes beyond typos to report back on wordiness, passive voice, and cliché usage. This is an exciting tool that might put a few proofreaders out of work, but it is hard to see any issues beyond that. The more controversial introduction by Microsoft is Researcher, and the article explains why,

Researcher… will give users a way to find and incorporate additional information from outside sources. This makes it easy to add a quote and even generate proper academic citations for use in papers. Explicit content won’t appear in search results, so you won’t accidentally import it into your work. And you won’t find yourself in some random Wikipedia rabbit hole, because the search for additional information happens in a panel on the right side of your Word document.

Researcher pulls information from the Bing Knowledge Graph to provide writers with relevant connections to their topics. The question is, will users rely on Researcher to fact-check for them, or will they make sure that the suggested source material is appropriate and substantiated? In spite of the lessons of the Republic National Convention, plagiarism can get you into big trouble (in a college classroom, anyway.) It is easy to see student users failing to properly cite or quote the suggested information, unless Researcher also offers help in those activities as well. Is this a good thing, or is it another way to make our children dumber by enabling shortcuts?

Chelsea Kerwin, January 23, 2017

Ten Search Engines That Are Not Google

December 13, 2016

Business-design firm Vandelay Design shares their 10 favorite alternatives to Google Search in their blog post titled, “Alternative Search Engines for Designers and Developers.” Naturally, writer Jake Rocheleau views these resources from a designer’s point of view, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the list. The article states:

New intriguing search engines frequently pop up as a replacement to the juggernaut that is Google. But it’s tough to find alternative search engines that actually work and provide real value to your workflow. I’d like to cover a handful of alternatives that work well for designers and developers. These aren’t all web crawler search engines because I did throw in a few obscure choices for design resources too. But the sites in this list may be better replacements for Google no matter what you’re searching for. …

All 10 of these search engines are viable choices to add into your workflow, or even replace existing sites you already use. Designers are always looking for new tools and I think these sites fit the bill.

Rocheleau describes his selections and gives tips for getting the most out of each. He leads with DuckDuckGo—come for the privacy, stay for the easter eggs. StartPage also promises privacy as it pulls results from other search engines. Designers will like Instant Logo Search, for locating SVG vector logos, and Vecteezy for free vector designs. Similarly, Iconfinder and DryIcons both offer collections of free icons.

For something a little different, try The WayBack Machine at the Internet Archive, where you can comb the archives for any previously existing domain. Rocheleau suggests designers use it to research competitors and gain inspiration, but surely anyone can find interesting artifacts here.

We are reminded that one can get a lot from WolframAlpha if one bothers learning to use it. Then there is Ecosia, which uses ad revenue to plant trees across the globe. (They have planted over four million trees since the site launched in December of 2009.) The final entry is Qwant, another engine that promises privacy, but also offers individual search features for categories like news, social-media channels, and shopping. For anyone tired of Google and Bing, even non-designers, this list points the way to several good alternatives.

Cynthia Murrell, December 13, 2016

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