Bing has introduced a technology they’ve dubbed “Adaptive Search.” According to the Bing Team:
Every time you search on Bing, the information provided helps Bing understand what you’re trying to do. The more you search, the more Bing can learn – and use that information to adapt the experience so you can spend less time searching and accomplish what you set out to do.
Essentially, you’re teaching Bing how you search online. From the data Bing collects (from your search history), it can begin to infer the best results to display. Their mission is to remove as much ambiguity from search results as possible.
For example, say you searched for “Olympics”, Bing will return a result set geared toward the Olympic Games. Websites like Olympic.org and NBCOlympics.com show up. Pretty straightforward stuff. But if Bing detects that you’re a history buff based on your search history, it might shift focus to sites discussing the origins of the Olympics.
That’s not to say they’ll abandon the other listings entirely. It’s more about placement on the page. For the history buff, a page like http://history1900s.about.com/od/fadsfashion/a/olympicshistory.htm might appear higher up. The differences are generally quite subtle, according to the Bing Team.
The overall goal isn’t to prevent users from seeing a diverse set of results, creating a “filter bubble” as they described it. It’s about providing the most accurate search results for the user to encourage the user to return again and again. And with each use, Bing should become more attuned to the user.
For those interested in exploring Bing’s Adaptive Search, you should ideally be signed in to the service. This will allow Bing to access up to 18 months worth of data versus 28 days for those who choose to remain signed out. (In the future, it may exceed 18 months but that’s the current limit.) And for those who would prefer to not have customized results based on past search history, the option is there to “Clear” and “Turn off” search history at any time.