Microsoft Explains New Bing 'Autosuggest Ghosting'; Releases Bing Sitemap Plugin Beta

Bing explains Ghosting in Autosuggest--and its algorithms used to complete your query. Bing Sitemap Plugin beta generates XML Sitemaps compliant with sitemaps.org for websites running on IIS as well as Apache.

Microsoft showcasing a subtle change and the interaction design behind the Autosuggest features in its Bing search engine called Autosuggest Ghosting.

"Search engines have plenty of features aimed at optimizing Navigation and recalling Search History. Specifically, we've made it faster to search by completing your query when we're confident we really know what you're looking for," Microsoft's Dan Marantz, Lead, Bing Experiences and Query Formulation Team. wrote.

""Autosuggest Ghosting" is a way to pre-populate the query most likely to be used in the search box (blue selected-text style below) in an effort to speed up the time it takes to express your intent and get to your destination," explains Marantz. This has seen to help users speed up by over 16%.

"You can either press <enter> to accept the suggestion, continue to type through it with something else, or press delete/backspace to remove the blue suggested text. Most of the interactions here are borrowed from word processing programs and are a standard way to manipulate selected text. So it only made sense to have search work the same way," Marantx adds.

Bing Autosuggest

Bing Autosuggest Ghosting in Internet Explorer

Update 03/26: In a follow up post, to how Ghosting in Autosuggest lets you get more done in less time--Bing today shed light on the algorithms used to complete search query once Bing has confidence in the intent of a search.

In addition to processing suggestions, "we are also running parallel algorithms that filter spam, detect adult or offensive content, check for spelling errors and classify the type of search you are attempting across categories," writes Dr. Antonio Gulli, Principal Development Manager, Bing R&D.

Gulli further notes, Bing has a platform with multiple data layers. "If a query suddenly becomes popular it will be inserted in our trie data structure within 5-15 minutes. Similarly, a query may already be in our trie but its dominance may change," he adds.

For example, "Lindsey Vonn has been in the news recently, and once we identify her as freshly topical, {lindsay lohan} may no longer be the dominant intent for {linds} as we outlined above."

Finally, ranking is also a critical component of Autosuggest. "As soon as you begin to type we need to provide relevant suggestions. In a few milliseconds we evaluate how fresh the suggestions are, how many users have submitted them, how many times the suggestions have been selected in the past alongside over several hundred additional ranking signals," Gulli expalins.

Also, in a new video on YouTube, highlights the benefits of the seamless Bing integration in Windows 8:

In other Bing news, a new Bing Webmaster Tools post explains how webmaster can easily build sitemaps manually using beta of Bing Sitemap Plugin release today under open source liecening.

"Because XML Sitemaps are so important, we want to make it very easy for webmasters to generate them and publish them for the use of all search engines. The plugin takes care of generating XML Sitemaps compliant with sitemaps.org for websites running on IIS as well as Apache," wrote Duane Forrester.

The Bing Sitemap Plugin generates two types of Sitemaps including: "A comprehensive Sitemap of all URLs seen in server traffic; and a Sitemap dedicated to store URLs that have changed recently."

"Having both comprehensive and delta Sitemaps provides you with significant benefits, as it help search engines crawl your full, up-to-date list of all URLs, as well as a concise Sitemap of URLs that were modified recently, which search engine crawlers can prioritize," Forrester addded.

In addition, the plugin also automatically adds <lastmod> values to Sitemap, and generates <priority> values to the Sitemap based on how popular your URLs are. This can help in keeping bot traffic bandwidth down.

Those interested can download it from Microsoft Download Center, and more information is available at the Bing Webmaster help center.