Google’s Got Logos, But Bing’s Home Page Images Attract Too

Fast Company has a fascinating article on Bing’s background images and how they are used to market the Bing service. While Google updates their logos to be fun and creative on special birthdays or occasions, Bing revamps their background with an image that stands out and leaves users asking for more.

If you haven’t noticed, Bing updates their home page background graphic daily (sometimes more often), with images and photography that are real eye catchers. They even add interactivity behind the background graphic by adding hotspots to the image, which lead to useful search queries.

Stephanie Horstmanshof, managing editor of Bing and the so-called “queen of the homepage” told Fast Company, “we thought it was a way to differentiate–to make things come alive and more approachable.”

How does Bing select which photo they want on their home page? Bing has a meeting every few weeks with a group of decision makers who review tons of user submitted photos and other photography and then pick the best to show on their home page. They don’t just look for pretty and interesting photos, they look for images that “makes you want to find out more about it,” said Horstmanshof.

After the photos are selected, a Bing writer adds the hotspots over the images and the background is scheduled in. The hotspots, along with the image, purpose is to drive more queries and show off Bing’s search capabilities.

The key here is to bring searchers back daily to use Bing more and more. I should note that Bing had the backgrounds and hotspots well before Bing was even a brand. Microsoft launched these background and hotspots under the “Live Search” brand, which failed to help Microsoft capture much market share. Bing, on the other hand, has been successful in increasing market share over the years.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Logos | Microsoft: Bing | Microsoft: Marketing


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • kevint

    Those great images, do nothing for their search quality.
    The brighter packaging does not necessarily mean a better product.
    When will people figure out that just because something stimulates their senses
    does not make it a great tool, or product, or person. Its just marketing.

  • Bradd Libby

    I think kevint is missing the point. One thing that search engines do poorly is serendipity – That is, showing you something interesting that is not what you have indicated you want. Bing’s images are one way to address this.

    My biggest gripe is that this feature does not go far enough – There should be more than one image per day and in many different categories (Science, Nature, Art, History, etc.)

    Google tried to copy this feature with their ‘Change background image’ link on their main page, but missed all of the important aspects. I wrote a blog post about Google and Bing’s images a while ago.

    Kevint is right – these images do not affect the quality of search results – but to me they do affect the quality of the search process.

  • jlibrizzi

    As both a web enthusiast and amateur photographer I’m torn on this story. But really it boils down to one thing – the purpose of a search engine visit. Most users visit a SE with a query in mind and expect that SE to get them an answer quickly. Offering them a detour from that objective is, for me, harmful. That’s why Google has such strict rules about what it does and does not put on its homepage. Asking a user to process more information – whether it be too many words or pictures of squirrels – incrementally adds to the total time on site and thus detracts from my original objective.

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