Web

Bing blocks holiday deal sites and then creates its own [UPDATE: Bing responds]

bing cyber mondayThe SEO world took notice last week when Bing performed something of an undercover update on its search algorithm. Apparently this overhaul is the search engine’s version of Google’s Panda update, although it may have made even more sweeping changes than its competitor’s content-farm crackdown.

According to Search Engine Land, Bing has taken a more comprehensive approach and is flat out removing sites from its index that are deemed insufficient. Google’s go at this critically hurt page ranks for many, but didn’t remove any.

So what’s being punished? It appears that holiday deal sites by and large are the victims. Dedicated Cyber Monday sites are difficult to come by, as were Black Friday sites (with the exception of Bfads.net). Google these terms and you’ll find pages like GottaDeals, BlackFriday.info, and CyberMonday.com—which are nowhere to be seen on Bing’s front page. And in some of their cases, they won’t be found anywhere. Searching “cybermonday.com” on Bing didn’t reveal the site (click to enlarge image below).

whole page bing

It’s a strange move, especially given how consumers have really hitched their train to holiday online shopping. But it appears Bing might be trying to cut down on the competition and rake in a little e-holiday traffic of its own. The search engine has launched its own Magical Hoiday Calendar, which boasts everything from “ideas and inspiration for updating old traditions” to daily prizes, like concerts, cars, and “fashion experiences.” The site is partnering with some big brand names as well, including Fiat, Spotify, and Hulu Plus.

The graphic is an advent calendar of sorts, and each day the appropriately numbered icon reveals some sort of “gift;” today’s is a video flashback on Bing’s progress this year. It’s a significant interactive multimedia project for Bing, which has to compete with the various Web products Google has for consumer eyes. 

It would be too easy (and nonsensical) to assume this is the reason Bing squashed holiday shopping sites, but the fact remains that they were axed. And many of them aren’t spam or SEO-rigged sites: CyberMonday.com was bought by Shop.org back when the term was originally coined, and it is a go-to for daily discounts. It makes zero sense for the search engine to de-index these hugely searched terms right before the big shopping weekend, even if it were thinking it would end up driving some attention to its new holiday site. The timing is all a little strange.

However, this commentary from David Andre of CyberMonday.com hints at foul play:

“The site was dropped over the weekend right before Cyber Monday, and replaced with a LARGE promotion for Bing Shopping. Prior to Cyber Monday (and for the last 5 years), CyberMonday.com was the #1 result on Google, Yahoo, Ask, and MSN/Bing for searches such as ‘cyber Monday.’ We have screen images of Bing search from Monday November 28.”

While Google has pulled similar stunts before, the site at least attempts to be transparent with blog posts announcing and vaguely explaining the updates. But Bing often remains mum on algorithm changes. Users are noticing, however, and the search engine needs to start answering some questions. 

googe bing cyber monday 

[Update]

A Bing spokesperson got in touch with us this afternoon and had the following to say about the search engine speculation: 

“One of our main goals at Bing is to deliver quality results for our users.  One way that we do that is to look closely for sites that don’t deliver the value searchers are looking for, and take action to protect searchers.  As such, websites that seem to rely mostly on affiliate content or that offer only thin content may be demoted or removed from our index. This has been a long standing policy and is something we continually refine and look at closely throughout the year.  

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are notorious times for spammers, and Bing took proactive action to protect our users by removing questionable domains.  In an effort to protect our users some questionable domains may have been demoted or removed that some may consider legitimate sites. Bing did not replace algorithmic results with its own sites.  Since its inception Bing has offered verticalized content like shopping and travel if it helps address a user’s intent. These Instant Answers are available for a variety of topics and scenarios, such as shopping, checking stock prices, or stats for athletes. The Bing Magical Calendar is part of a larger Microsoft marketing campaign that unveils new content and offers every day through the month of December and is unrelated… David Andre’s assertion that Bing replaced algorithmic results with its own content is simply not true.”

Mobile

Moschino glams up the 48-megapixel Honor View 20 at Paris launch

After its success with the View 10 in 2018, Honor has announced its sequel, the Honor View 20 with an entirely new type of display which has a hole-punch for the camera rather than a notch.
Home Theater

Everything to know about Sling TV: Channels, pricing, and more

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Smart Home

Abode Systems upgrades its smart home gateway with new chip and Z-Wave Plus

Palo Alto-based Abode Systems is adding an upgrade to its popular smart home starter kit by replacing its central gateway with a second-generation version that supports cellular backup and enhanced Z-Wave support.
Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Always have way too many tabs open? Google Chrome might finally help

Google is one step closer to bringing tab groups to its Chrome browser. The feature is now available in Google's Chrome Canady build with an early implementation that can be enabled through its flag system.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.
Cars

Royal fans bid big money as Prince Philip ‘car crash parts’ hit eBay

A couple of days after a car crash that involved the 97-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, debris apparently from the scene of the accident showed up on eBay. And people wanted to buy it.