You can’t have missed Microsoft’s media offensive. Magazines, TV Adverts and Xbox Live are singing the praises of Bing – the search engine successor to MSN Live Search.
From every street corner and every television set, they’re calling upon the people to Bing and Decide. What Microsoft hope is that people will try Bing once and turn away from Google’s “information overload.”
Every SEO professional has an opinion. Bing isn’t advanced enough, Google have ruined their clean results page with sponsored links and embedded videos.
But what about the non-professionals? What about the people who don’t see search engines as a living, but as a means to an end. Luckily, I live with such a person. So I posed her a question. “Will you Bing and Decide?”
Her answer – why not?
Bing UK vs Google UK – The Test
I outlined three criteria to test the search engines on:
- Local Search
- Product Search
Laura would choose the key phrases herself and she’d analyse the results and report back to me. In order to make the search more natural, we decided on a common thread. To find out what we needed to set up our own aquarium, find a local pet shop and purchase a fish tank, then order a specialist accessory from an online shop.
Google vs. Bing – The Information Test
Search Phrase: first time aquarium
I found the search phrase a little strange, but Laura had no problem finding what she was looking for. The first result had all the information she needed, and she’d found it in under a minute.
This wasn’t a 30 second job. The first result was described as “useless”, so after scanning the SERP quickly, Laura tabbed open results three and four. Three was irrelevant, four too basic. After two minutes fruitless reading, we decided to call it quits.
Information Search - Google Wins
Google vs Bing – The Local Search Test
Search Phrase: aquarium buy eccles
Again, Laura’s choice of search phrase seems baffling to a professional – but she is the target audience. As I thought, Google Local was the star of the show here. I was informed that she likes the maps, and can see that the first result is nearby, relevant and as such no further browsing was required. Again, this took less than 30 seconds.
Somewhat strangely, Bing didn’t show us any local listings. After scanning the SERP, Laura decried the top result as “pointless – we’re not in Scotland” and took a look at result number five. Unfortunately a list of Manchester-based pet shops with no information on what they stocked wasn’t what she was looking for. Deciding that she couldn’t be mithered studying the results, Bing was abandoned after around a minute.
Local Search - Google Wins
Google vs Bing – Product Search
Search Phrase: specialist aquarium pump uk
Google had romped into an unassailable lead, but we still had product search to cover. As I expected from such a focussed search phrase, Google’s first result was in fact a specialist aquarium pump from a UK stockist. And we could order online. Result.
And Bing’s results were just as focussed. Possibly out of pity, or just for a change, Laura decided she liked Bing’s position one result more than Google’s. Point to Bing. Finally.
Product Search – Bing Wins (Grudgingly)
So that’s fairly conclusive. My SEO layperson prefers Google, citing Local Search and Overall Relevance as key factors, although Bing was “prettier, but a bit rubbish“.
Laura hadn’t finished yet though. She insisted that relevance wasn’t the way she would judge how good a search engine is. No, she had her own test…
Laura Wilde’s Patented Music Lyric Search Engine Goodness Test (or Something)
You see, the only real way to see how good a search engine is, is to use it to identify songs by inputting snatches of half-heard lyrics.
Intrigued by this idea, I flipped on the radio.
“cast your mind back 10 years to the girl”
At first glance, Google’s results didn’t look promising. However, the embedded video search caught Laura’s eye and she gave it a click. Sure enough, we were treated to the song we’d just heard on the radio. “Fire Brigade” by The Move.
At first glance, none of the results seemed to have the information we needed. Admittedly Laura only reads the titles, but still, we had to look more closely a second time. On the second read through, Laura spotted a YouTube link. Yes, it was the song we were searching for. It’d just taken her much longer to find it.
Laura Wilde’s Patented Music Lyric Search Engine Goodness Test (or Something) – Google Wins
So there you have it. The embedded video, the local search and the clutter that we all complain about isn’t just there to wind up SEOs. It’s there because the average user loves it.
It looks like the very “information overload” that Bing is holding up as Google’s Achilles’ Heel might just be the search champion’s major selling point.
And that’s why when people are asked to Bing and Decide, the decision most probably won’t be in Microsoft’s favour.
Have you used Bing? What did you decide? Share your impressions in the comments section.