Thoughts on search quality

This morning, I will be on a panel at the Farsight Summit with some of the
industry’s thought leaders to talk about search quality as we look into the
future of search. Farsight is about looking 10 years into the future to explore
the big industry challenges and opportunities ahead of us as we work to deliver
the next generation of search.

We woke up to an interesting (and interestingly timed) article
by Danny Sullivan about some complaints Google has about how it says Bing ranks
results. I wanted to take a moment to make a couple of points in advance of this
panel so we can stay focused on the original intent of the Summit.

The Bing engineering team has been working hard over the past couple of years
to deliver the best search relevance and quality in the industry and for our
users. This is our top priority every day.

We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A
small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who
opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us
improve the experience for all users.

To be clear, we learn from all of our customers. What we saw in today’s story
was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking.
It was a creative tactic by a competitor, and we’ll take it as a back-handed
compliment. But it doesn’t accurately portray how we use opt-in customer data as
one of many inputs to help improve our user experience.

The history of the web and the improvement of a broad array of consumer and
business experiences is actually the story of collective intelligence, from
sharing HTML documents to hypertext links to click data and beyond. Many
companies across the Internet use this collective intelligence to make their
products better every day.

We all learn from our collective customers, and we all should.

From its inception, we have had what we believe is a distinct approach to
search, and the features and innovation in Bing – from our new user experience
and visual organization approach to our focus on inferring user intent and
helping customers complete complex tasks, Bing has added a new voice and new
experiences to search. We never set out to build another version of an existing
search engine. We believe search needs to do more for customers. This is the
guiding principle in how we approach our work each day and it is why we are here
today engaging in discussions at Farsight, an event we are proud to have helped
bring about.

This is why I am excited to mix it up this morning with some of the best
thinkers in the search business.

We all have lots of work to do to get search to be everything we want it to
be, and everything our customers deserve. Let’s get to it.

Harry Shum, PhD, Corporate Vice President, Bing

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