Google Is Not Necessarily Superior To Bing
In June 2014, Google enjoyed 89.27% of the UK search engine market share. Bing came in second, with 5.94%, with Yahoo coming in third with 3.55%.
This raises two questions:
1. Is Google inherently superior to Bing and Yahoo?
2. Should I therefore forget about Bing and Yahoo, and focus all my attention on Google?
To briefly answer both questions: No, and no.
Google is extraordinarily popular, but it does not necessarily extend that they’re “the best” when it comes to delivering good search results. Also, it might not be the best idea to ignore the other search engines outright.
Bing is Microsoft’s search engine. Since 2008, Microsoft have been consolidating their service with Yahoo’s in an attempt to challenge Google’s reign. All studies indicate that their share of the search engine market is growing. With plans afoot for low-cost Windows devices featuring Bing as the default search engine, that share can only increase.
This isn’t the time to start ignoring Google in favour of Bing. Google is still dominating, after all. However, it might be about time that you started to explore Bing in greater depth.
Given that Bing currently has but 5.94% of the UK search engine market share, it is likely that you’ve never used it yourself.
Have you ever seen a Bing search results page? Have you any idea how it compares to Google’s? Perhaps it’s time you found out.
Bing Or Google – Which Do You Prefer?
Bing It On is a tool that allows you to directly compare the results for the same search term on Bing and Google.
It’s a blind testing tool, set up by Microsoft to challenge the notion that Google is an inherently superior search engine. The idea is that you conduct five different searches, each time choosing which results you prefer. You are not told, initially, which results are Google’s and which are Bing’s.
Let’s have a look at my latest test. In each case, I was looking for the most “useful” results. As in, were I genuinely conducting that search, which results would be more effective at giving me the information I was seeking?
To begin with, I searched for “The Rolling Stones” (they were playing on the radio. Tumbling Dice!)
Here’s the results I got. Click to enlarge:
You might disagree, but I prefer the results on the right. The band’s official site, their Wikipedia entry, a more specific page on their official site, some videos, and their Amazon page, where I could start buying some CDs if I wanted to.
Yes, I still buy CDs.
Compare this to the results on the left, where by the third item I’m already getting some completely unrelated news. “Garth Brooks Ups The Chicago Ante”? “Nicki Minaj Summons Her Superpowers”? These articles are from Rolling Stone Magazine, but I’m looking for information on the band! The results on the right recognised this, and delivered the more relevant results. They win.
Next I searched for “The Beatles”, because why not?
This time I chose the results on the left. The band’s official site, a detailed discography, some truly iconic images, their US website, their MTV archive and, best of all, The Beatles Story, a museum in Liverpool.
If I had somehow navigated my way through life having not yet encountered The Beatles, the results on the left would, I believe, give me all the information I need. Compare this to the results on the right. Whilst I like how prominently the Wikipedia article is placed, those “news” items don’t strike me as relevant. Fascinating, but not relevant. I’m a newcomer to The Beatles, remember? I want to learn about them! I don’t know who this Eleanor Brom is, and why would I care that Tom Petty digs them?
The left results win.
Next, I searched for “Prince”. I’m looking for information on the musician, so obviously I’m going to choose whichever results provide the most information on Prince as a musician, rather than Prince as royalty:
Now, both search engines recognised that I was seeking Prince Rogers Nelson, the musician. The results on the right also drudged up the Wikipedia article on “Prince” as a “male ruler, monarch, or member of a monarch’s or former monarch’s family”. Less useful, less relevant, but I still chose the results on the right.
Why? Videos. Plus, better images, and a link to Prince’s Last.fm page, which I happen to know is the single most useful resource for learning about musicians – especially if you’re interested in statistics and data.
The results on the right win.
For my final two searches, I searched for “Green Tea” (because I’m thirsty) and “Burrito” (because I’m hungry). For each search, once again I looked for the relevancy of the results, whilst also allowing for my personal preferences to sway my vote. I rejected the “Green Tea” results that featured an article from The Daily Mail, for instance, whilst I favoured the “Burrito” results that featured the Barburrito official site. I don’t read The Mail, but I love Barburrito. Sometimes, that’s what it comes down to.
After conducting five searches and selecting my preferred results for each, Bing It On revealed that, in every case, I preferred the Bing results to the Google results:
This was a blind test, remember, and apparently I’m not alone in favouring Bing results over Google’s.
According to an independent survey, 53% of those who take this test prefer Bing results. 34% prefer Google, and 13% feel that neither result is inherently better.
It seems we can no longer take it for granted that Google delivers the best service.
Perhaps it is time that you started taking Bing into consideration when marketing your business online?
As to how we might go about optimising a site for Bing, well. That’s a story for another day.