Bing Wants Mobile Friendly Websites Using Semantic Zoom

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There has been a lot of buzz in the SEO community about Google releasing an update that might cause sites that aren’t mobile-friendly to not rank well against sites that are.

You can test your site with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Page. Another way you can tell if Google thinks your site is mobile friendly is to search the site on a smartphone, and see if the words “Mobile Friendly” appear at the start of the snippet for the site. Interestingly, some predictions are going around that Bing might impose a mobile-friendliness update as well on sites, and people are recommending that search results snippets in Bing be checked to see if they also indicate that a site is mobile-friendly, like the following:

The search snippet for 'SEO by the Sea' includes a mention that the site is 'Mobile-friendly'

The search snippet for ‘SEO by the Sea’ includes a mention that the site is ‘Mobile-friendly’

If you search for your site in Google and get a message that your site is mobile-friendly, that supposedly is an indication that your site should be OK after Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update. A Techcrunch article titled Are The Fortune 500 Ready For Mobile Search? sets out the question of what happens to some very large sites if they aren’t ready for the update; it doesn’t look well for many of those sites. They performed a study to see how ready sites might be for Google’s update, and this is what they found:

This survey reinforces just how pervasive this issue is – 44% of Fortune 500 web sites failed the test and another 4% of sites did not produce a response.

A recent WebProNews article tells us Bing Wants Your Site To Be Mobile-Friendly Too and reassures us that changes you make for Google should help with Bing also.

Bing’s Semantic Zoom Push?

But what if Bing had a slightly different approach towards mobile-friendliness? A Microsoft patent Granted last week introduces some potential mobile search interface changes at Bing that are echoed in Bing’s Developer pages as well. Here are those Developer pages that discuss a Semantic Zoom interface for mobile devices:

The “Semantic Zoom” patent granted last week is:

Semantic zoom for related content
Invented by Daniel Marantz, Aaron Yuen; Chun-Win, Priya Vaidyanathan, Mark Blelock Atherton, Parthasarathy Govindarajen
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent 9,002,174
Granted April 7, 2015
Filed: October 1, 2012


Among other things, one or more techniques and/or systems are provided for displaying a related content view within a search interface. That is, a search interface, such as a search application, may provide search results that are relevant to a query submitted through the search interface. For example, a main search engine results view comprising one or more search results of the query may be presented within the search interface. Responsive to a semantic zoom operation (e.g., a touch gesture), the search interface may be transitioned from the main search engine results view to a related content view comprising related content that corresponds to the query and/or an (e.g., supplemental) search result for the query. In this way, the user may explore supplemental content, such as query suggestions, images, entity descriptions/profiles, videos, and/or other content, that may be related to a query submitted by the user.

Bing does likely want to feature mobile-friendly pages in its search results. Under this Semantic Zoom approach, it sounds like Bing will want to provide a way to make those search results richer for searchers who want additional information within those results. The diagrams that accompany the patent show off several examples that are worth looking at for more details.

A touch of the Semantic Zoom interface feature would appear to show lots of related content to a mobile search at Bing.

A touch of the Semantic Zoom interface feature would appear to show lots of related content to a mobile searcher at Bing.

The images also show how different advertisements might be associated with mobile queries and also points out how mobile apps might be shown in search results as well:

The Semantic Zoom interface could reveal links to related apps, too.

The Semantic Zoom interface could reveal links to related apps, too.

Take Aways

Bing wants a mobile-friendly site in its index as much as Google does. The Semantic Zoom interface feature for mobile devices shows that they are interested in showing a richer mobile interface to searches as well, which is an interesting place to be, to a degree piggy-backing on Google’s announced mobile-friendly algorithm approach to maybe arrive at something much more than just an index full of mobile-friendly sites.

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