Monday, August 15, 2011

Bing/Yahoo Search Effectiveness: Hype or Truth?

I use Google for everything -- almost a literal statement.

Prior to Google I used to have to write things down, remember things
but typically would forget things. Now we have Google. If you have
an inscrutable error message when you use Railo to call a Python
script calling a Mappoint COM object, you can Google it (rather than
paying for incident support from Railo and Microsoft and then have to
listen to them blame each other and then Python). If I want to
quickly know how much $47 in Canadian dollars is in US Dollars I can
search "47 CAD in USD" and know vs the old days where I would have to
call a bank or look for the exchange rate and do the math myself.
Google has made itself the center of the internet and have become rich
via ad revenue in the process.

As Google is the top dog, many others are trying to bring them down.
Google's main competition is Bing. I honestly never go to Bing (as I
never go to Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail or use Internet Explorer). I was
actually surprised to find out that Bing did offer a lot of the
features that I have come to count on in Google. If they are truly at
least equal, the remaining question is how equal are they?

Recently Experian Hitwise recently announced that Bing/Yahoo is more
efficient than Google ( http://bit.ly/mT5Qzc ). Can this be true? Is
Bing the better search engine? Is there an anti-Microsoft bias that
prevents habitual Google users from enjoying this "decision engine"?

Experian Hitwise defines a successful search as a search that results
in a user clicking a link to search results. So, if we are to accept
their methodology and definition, Bing searches result in the user
following a link to a web site more often than via Google. If Google
users do not follow a link on the results page, then what do they do?
Google visits must result in secondary searches or the user just
closing the tab more often than via Bing or Yahoo.

As a big, big Google fanboy I have to admit that I have had search
issues with Google for the past few months. While I don't know if
this report counts Google Calc queries or when I search something just
to find out the proper spelling, something subtle has changed, but I
don't get the results I am looking for like I used to. The above
example of the Railo/Python/Mappoint COM issue, I could not seem to
get the right combination of quotes and keywords to get the results I
needed. In Google's defense, Bing was of NO help either -- but the
Experian report didn't go into details about if the users then went to
Bing and were able to search and click a link. I was a user who
searched and searched again and added to the number reported. It
seems that if you are searching for something rather unusual but have
a more popular keyword in the search field, that popular keyword will
override the entire search. For example, if you were searching for a
scientist's paper who just happened to be named "Miles Kardashian" you
will never find him by name.

This is less a "Bing is superior" and more of a "Google fails to
provide results from time to time". I will still use Google as I was
able to eventually tweak my search query and get my results and that
would be a total mystery in Bing (plus I am still VERY angry about the
crappy Bing ads Microsoft put out).

1 comment:

Dixie Sargent Redmond said...

I can't remember where I read/heard this but it seems Google weights results to be more like who/what you are. I've found when I search certain terms in Google my own sites come up on top a lot more vs. Bing my sites are waaaaay down the list. Not sure if that's a search formula difference or if I haven't made the SEO gods happy on Bing.

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