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Monday, July 13, 2009
Since it's launch, we have been relatively quiet about Microsoft's latest search offering Bing. Frankly we were waiting for the hype to settle down. Not to mention that we have seen this before with Microsoft and the re-branding of their search engine. There has been lots of discussion as to whether Bing is going to change the search world. Well we are not so sure about that. Is Bing a Google killer? Nope definitely not. Is Bing a Yahoo killer? Highly unlikely, but not impossible. Microsoft was late in the Search game but they are slowly making some small strides.

Based on compete.com data from June 2009, Bing has made a splash, but not necessarily at the expense of the other engines. If we look at unique visitor data for June 2009, we see that Google is by far and away the most popular with over 141 million unique visitors, representing an increase of 0.37% over the previous month and an increase of 8.23% over the previous year. Compare this to Bing which had about 49.5 million unique visitors representing a pretty impressive 8,108% increase over the previous month. Yet Bing is still the proverbial number three search engine (in terms of unique visitor data) behind both Google and Yahoo.

It would be easy to suggest that that fantastic monthly increase for Bing is due to the advertising and promotion of Microsoft, but really it has probably more to do with the novelty of the re-branded search offering from Microsoft. So far my favorite thing about Bing is the cool splash pages that they provide. Which of the Bing features are truly innovative?

Features of Microsoft's Bing Search Engine
  • Bing Search history - not really innovative here.

  • Bing Related Searches - ASK has been doing this for years. ASK 3-D provided a very cool user experience. Again nothing really new here.

  • Bing Logical Categories - try a search for a product in Bing such as a digital camera or laptop. Within the right menu it shows organized logical categories related to laptop like Shopping, Brands, Buying Guide, Top 10 and more. Again search engines such as ASK and Yahoo already do this.

  • Video Search - The user interface for Bing’s Video search has been modified to simplify the grouping of videos from content providers such as Hulu and YouTube. Ok this is a little bit cool. Bing video results spread across the page while Google’s run down the left side. Clicking a small video icon in Bing — small video icons in Bing start playing when you mouse over them. Again I believe that ASK was the first engine to offer this feature.

  • Quick Previews/Hover - ok this is pretty much one of my favorite features of Bing. When you hover the mouse over a small orange dot to the right of links on a results page, a box appears with a text-based summary of what’s on that site. The preview box may also include links to other parts of the site or at least a “Go to this Page” link. This feature is great to help assist the Searcher in finding the information that they are looking for quicker. This is a somewhat innovative feature to the search results page.

  • Explore Pane - To show more information on the results page, Microsoft uses what’s called an Explorer Pane in Bing. It’s a navigation menu that runs down the left hand column of the page that offers different categories depending on your search. Try a search for "Las Vegas" and see which result and categories appear.
So while there are a couple of new features that we can appreciate, there is still a ton of room for improvement. The results are still not the greatest. This is expecially true depending on the type of query that you do. I would like to see more blended results. Bing does incoporate blended results, for example a search for "Michael Jackson" presents you with the options for news, video, images, albums, and biography. You also get some blended results at the top and near the bottom of the results page. I would like to see this with more queries.

But is this enough for Bing to steal market share from the other search engines?

With regards to Bing, as Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land recently pointed out, "... you can see Microsoft immediately gains 3% — but this doesn’t come at the expense of the other search engines. People were checking out Bing in addition to visiting their regular services. Since the launch, Bing’s had a high of 12.1% share (also in bold) but mainly hovers at the 11% mark." While it may be too early to tell, Bing has not made a big dent in obtaining market share from the other search engines. We will just have to wait and see if the novelty and hype wear down or if Bing is here to stay.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, July 13, 2009  
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