Alex Butzbach

While Google is the undisputed champ of the search industry, it doesn’t mean other companies aren’t innovating. And though there’s no indication Bing is going to unseat Google anytime soon, it has been tinkering with some ideas that could one day bring it to the top – or at least inspire Google to adopt the same practices.

This year, Microsoft introduced Cortana, a search assistant in the mold of Apple’s Siri. Recently, people who use Cortana started seeing personalized SERPs and other features on Bing based on their previous preferences and settings. This is another stage in the development of semantic search and indicates how content marketing is changing to be more personalized and complex.

Contextual search clues

As Brafton reported, search is increasingly being affected by context. Mobile use and app availability, for example, determine what kinds of SERPs users see. Now, query language is changing to provide better results, at least where Cortana is present. According to Search Engine Land, Bing users who have Cortana on their phones can make highly specific searches, such as “where is the closest hardware store?”

This is an important insight into the semantic web, demonstrating how quickly search engines are sprinting away from keyword-dependent strategies. Rather than “hardware stores in Lexington, KY,” users are trying to find hardware stores relative to their locations. This means that specific phrases aren’t going to cut it when it comes to targeting certain users. Rather, registering on Google Places, using the right schema markup and offering geographically relevant content is paramount.

Search becomes customizable

Another Cortana feature with SEO implications is interest management. People who want to be continually updated about particular subjects, products or services can tell Bing and Cortana what sorts of things they want to see in search results more often. This gives brands even more reason to be highly specific when it comes to content production. Casting too wide a net may cause Bing and other engines to discount the usefulness of certain articles – especially if readers get granular when listing their preferences.