March 17, 2011, 4:37 PM

A Bing tweak aims to make it easier for consumers to shop by price

The change highlights the importance of retailer product feeds, a search expert says.

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A recent tweak to the Bing search engine enables consumers to search more efficiently for products based on price, putting more pressure on retailers to beef up their product feeds, according to one search expert.

Bing says it improved its ability to understand when a consumer is searching for a specific product in a particular price range. That means a consumer searching for “Air Jordans under $100” will receive pages of results for that product within that price range. The system is not airtight, however, as results also include links for related products under $100, including other Nike Inc. shoes, and a link to at least one product unrelated to Air Jordans, a type of air gun that costs less than $100. A similar search on Google’s search engine today mostly produced links to stories about the Bing feature, not links to retailers. 

“Under the hood, we try to detect a price constraint in your query, and intelligently adjust the results to match your criteria,” says a posting on the Bing search blog.  “This is just a small step in our journey to make search friendlier to natural language queries, and help you quickly find what you’re looking for. “ Search engines have been working for years to develop software that can pick out the important words in a search phrase, also referred to as a natural language query, so that the engine can provide more relevant results.

Consumers with mobile devices and the Bing mobile app also can use the feature. The search tool is available only to U.S. consumers.

“What this means for online retailers is that optimizing product attributes in products feeds is more important than ever before if online merchants are to extend their full reach into shopping engines in Google, Bing, and consequently, Yahoo,” says PJ Fusco, SEO manager for search services and technology vendor Covario Inc. “After Bing ended its Cashback program, Microsoft has grown to provide online merchants more ways to connect with shoppers through search engine marketing.”

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