A search engine can return tens of thousands of results for a query. As such, almost all search engines choose to use a process called ‘pagination’ to cut up their results into manageable chunks. ‘Pagination’ refers to dividing search results into multiple pages, each containing a set number of results. However, most of the time users only look through the first few pages.
Now it seems that Bing may abandon paginated results for certain search queries. Instead, the search engine will only show users the results that it deems most relevant; the results that would be on the first page under paginated system. Instead of offering users a ‘next page’ button, Bing plans on displaying a message: “We think that these are the most relevant results for your search. We’ve omitted some lower quality results”.
This is a daring piece of marketing for Bing. Microsoft’s search engine is attempting to project an air of unassailable confidence in its results. Abandoning pagination equates to offering users a guarantee that the site they want will be available through the first page of results.
However, the plan has a chance to drastically backfire. If the desired results for some queries often fail to show up on the de-paginated results page, Bing’s reputation could take a significant amount of damage.
Of course, Bing is still planning to allow its users to activate pagination for their results by clicking a “see all results” button. However, this only resolves the practical issues surrounding de-pagination: it doesn’t help Bing recover its dignity if their confidence in their results proves to be unfounded.
But how might this affect your own online marketing strategies? If your site doesn’t rank on the first page of Bing’s results for certain key terms, the de-pagination project could cause you to lose a substantial quantity of pageviews. While Bing is only planning on dropping pagination for a few, specific searches at present, it’s likely the new system will be rolled out to a greater extent at a later date. With this in mind, it’s worth accepting that the world of online marketing is likely to become a fair bit more competitive and aggressive under a de-paginated system.
However, neither Google nor Yahoo are currently positing similar schemes. As such, online marketers may prefer to simply focus on obtaining a respectable ranking with these search engines.