Google is no longer showing results from Bing’s ‘Discover’ section, which it had been sending a significant amount of traffic over recent months.
Search Engine Journal received a tip from Edd Wilson regarding this issue. He also posted about it on Twitter with screenshots from SEMRush:
@matthewbarby Do you know what happened to Bing’s discover section? Organic traffic seems to have just fallen off. I understand there’s a redirect on the main discover section but all subjects are still hosted under there and are no longer indexed… pic.twitter.com/d7zZPdXJfW
— Edd Wilson (@EddJTW) July 4, 2019
According to the screenshot, referral traffic from Google to Bing’s discover section began to rise late last year. Referral traffic peaked at over 4 million visits per month before flatlining in July.
When searching for Bing’s discover section in Google it’s easy to see why it’s no longer receiving referral traffic:
As you can see, the discover section has been virtually de-indexed in Google. While it’s true that Google and Bing are competitors, it’s unusual for Google to do something like this.
On a related note, what was Google doing sending over 4 million visitors to Bing’s image discovery engine in the first place?
I did some digging to figure out what was going on here and I may have found the answer.
What does this mean & why does it matter?
Other than our tipster Edd Wilson, I could only find one other discussion related to this topic.
Back in April, TLDR SEO published an article analyzing the recent spike in referral traffic from Google to the Bing discover section.
They found pages within Bing’s discover section were exceptionally well optimized for search. It’s apparent some deliberate SEO considerations were made when creating the pages.
On top of that, the sitemap for Bing Discover was replaced late last year – right around the time when referral traffic starting to spike.
The new sitemap fixed a crawling error and added 14 additional sitemaps compared to the old sitemap. In April, Google was indexing over 400,000 pages from Bing Discover.
An increase in indexed pages could account for the increase in referral traffic. But that still doesn’t explain why the pages were eventually removed.
Why did Google de-index Bing Discover?
I can’t say for sure why the pages were de-indexed, but I can at least offer one possibility.
Bing’s discover section is, technically, just another set of search results. Google doesn’t link to search results pages from other platforms as it considers them low-quality content.
So that’s reason enough to de-index Bing Discover – not to mention sending millions of visitors to Bing doesn’t do Google any favors.
There’s one possible reason why the pages were de-indexed. Again, this is by no means confirmed.
Will this affect site owners?
Some site owners may be impacted by this change, especially if they’ve received an influx of traffic from Bing image search within the past few months.
Expect any recent gains in organic traffic from Bing image search to drop down to previous levels. Other than that there shouldn’t be any noticeable impact.