The Curious Case Of Bing Search Results In Google Search Results

Over the weekend, Bill Hartzer noticed that some Google searches returned Bing search results. As of last night, Google search results are once again Bing-free. What happened?

Taking a closer look, the Bing search results weren’t www.bing.com/search URLs, which are correctly blocked by Bing’s robots.txt file. They were coming from www.bing.com/entities/search. This pattern is not blocked, which is how the related URLs ended up indexed by Google. As for why those URLs are no longer indexed? Google may have noticed and pulled them.

But what are these /entities URLs? They seem to be a hybrid of map results and search results. Take a look, for instance, at this Bing search for [cable television seattle].

Bing Search Results

The first few listings (after the ads) are web results, with a map on the right. The link to “cable television” (circled above) is to an /entities page.

Scrolling down below the fold are local listings and a link to “see all business listings”, also a link to the /entities page, followed by more web results.

Bing Search and Local

That /entities pages is slightly different from the regular web search results (a larger map, more local listings, web search results above or below the business listings, and yet not exactly like the Bing Maps page. A “Local” tab is highlighted (which isn’t an available tab in the regular web search or Maps search).

Bing Entity Search

For reference, here are the web results at the bottom of the page (missing from the regular maps results page).

Bing Entity Web Listings

Arguably, these pages are basically Bing search results, which Google doesn’t want to index. As Google notes in their webmaster guidelines:

“Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don’t add much value for users coming from search engines.”

Google wants to send searchers to an answer, not to more search results (for that matter, that’s what Bing wants to do too). Google (and not to make it weird or anything, but by Google I mean, in part, me) started talking about this back in 2007. In this case, Bing hasn’t yet added /entities to their robots.txt file, but Google appears to have removed the pages (and fairly quickly; yesterday, over 30,000 URLs were indexed). Google has noted before that they may remove these types of pages from their index if the pages don’t provide additional value beyond the aggregation of listings.

How do you add value to search results pages? Give the user a reason to visit that page first. Do the Bing pages do that? The yellowpages.com listing just above where the www.bing.com/entities result was is still there. Isn’t it a search results page too?

Google Bing Listings

It’s hard to say. Both pages include data beyond the web listings, including address, phone number, and ratings.

Yellow Pages Example

The question of how to add value to these types of pages is an ongoing challenge and it’s clearly a work in progress for search engines too.

Related:

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: SEO | Microsoft: Bing | Microsoft: Bing Maps & Local | Top News

Sponsored


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



SearchCap:

Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  

Share

Other ways to share:
 

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • http://www.jaankanellis.com incrediblehelp

    Well Bing needs some traffic from someone that has it right?

  • Ed Carbery

    Paid search ads also show useless ads for other search engines which is bad for usability too. Both AdWords and Bing Ads do this.

  • Pat Grady

    I thought site owners are supposed to noindex their site search feature?

    mattcutts.com/blog/search-results-in-search-results/

    Haha!

  • bhartzer

    Yeah, I agree with you, Pat. Turns out that Bing had the /search and /Search folders disallowed in robots.txt but not the /entities folder disallowed in robots.txt.

    Kind of ironic that Vanessa Fox was the one responding back on that 2007 MattCutts.com blog post. ;)

    What I find more interesting is that about 48 hours after I originally wrote my blog post the /entitles folder is no longer indexed in Google. How many times have site owners had issues getting URLs removed from Google search results…but when Bing search results show up in Google those pages are removed very quickly? Hmmmm….

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest

 
 

Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States

Europe

Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech


Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!

 


 

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide