All of the search and social media world is in a tizzy over changes at Facebook and Google’s response to those changes. It’s as if these two are the only players in the online space.
The sad fact is that, in the eyes of most, they are (but let’s let Twitter join the club as well).
So whenever Bing does something pretty cool like their new Action Buttons in search results, the news gets buried. Well, you have been told. If you go and do certain searches over at Bing the search engine allows you to take actions based on that search from inside the engine itself. From the Bing blog
Helping you get things done faster is a big focus for us at Bing.
Whether it’s checking the status of your flight, accessing your online banking account or booking a room at a hotel, we are constantly exploring ways to help you make faster decisions. One way we do this is with “deep links”. Historically, we have used “deep links” as a way to surface popular pages within a given site. For instance, the result for United Airlines includes the links “Check in online,” “Baggage,” and “Flight Search” at the top of the page so you can quickly narrow down what you’re looking for and go directly to that part of the site.
Today we are taking this a step further with the release of Action Buttons. Now when you search across 7 popular categories – including airlines, couriers (e.g. FedEx), restaurants, banks, rental cars, software downloads and hotels – you will be presented with buttons for top actions on the site, that directly take you to the page where you can complete your task.
Here’s one example
Pretty cool. Of course, it’s Bing making the decisions as to what buttons will appear based on their own algorithmic secret sauce but the idea is intriguing to say the least. here is another example for a search for a rental car.
In the end, these are simply deep links gone wild. It’s not as if the information presented is new information that didn’t show up in the deep links before. Now the are highlighted in a new way and easier to act on. It’s an interesting approach as are many things that Bing tries to do with their search engine. The trouble is that not enough people are going to see this.
That’s a competition problem not a usability one.