If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the folks at Bing Local are paying Google a very nice compliment with a new display for local search results that looks quite a bit like what Google often shows.
As first spotted by BrightLocal.com, Bing’s new local search results no longer consistently show a “pack” of businesses listings and map at the top of the page, above all of the regular organic links. Instead, with the new display, Bing shows a mix of local results:
- The “pack” of listings may appear anywhere in the search results, not just at the top of the page. The map appears with the pack in this display.
- The “pack” may be replaced by blended listings — organic listings with local data blended in as part of the search snippet. The map appears in the upper right of this display, but floats as the user scrolls down the page.
A Microsoft spokesperson gave us the company’s standard reply about search result tests:
“We’re constantly updating and refining the Bing search experience, and before any changes are implemented they undergo intensive testing and experimentation to ensure the best possible user experience. We have nothing further to share at this time.”
Here’s how the new display looks in action, with comparisons to the old/existing local search display:
Old Bing local results: “seattle restaurants”
An 8-pack of listings shows at the top of the search results page.
New Bing local results: “seattle restaurants”
The pack is still together, but it’s smaller and merged in as part of the search results page, not at the top.
Old Bing local results: “richland wa real estate”
A 6-pack of results shows at the top of the page.
New Bing local results: “richland wa real estate”
This is the most similar-to-Google look that Bing is testing. There’s no “pack” anymore. The local listing information is blending in with organic results, and the map in the right column floats as you scroll down the page.
In this screenshot, note that listings 1, 3 and 4 in the organic results point to a Bing Local listing, while listings 2 and 5 point to the business website. Listing four also includes a rating/review from Bing Local; in other searches, Bing shows ratings/reviews from Yahoo Local, Yelp, etc., in that spot.
What’s unclear to me is how widely this test has already rolled out. I emailed a handful of friends who pay attention to local search and several – but not all – are seeing the test.