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Is Bing Missing an Opportunity to Win Users from Google?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
As Google continue to try and organize the world's information on the Web, recent algorithm updates from the past year have turned a lot of people (mainly site owners, webmasters, SEOs, and some business owners) against Google. Will Reynolds over at Seer Interactive had a passionate post about what he learned form being banned in Google (and Will is one of the good guys).  However are these people still using Google, the answer for the most part is yes.  ComScore data suggests that Bing's market share has remained constant over the past few months.  To me, this is a missed opportunity for Bing.

Why Aren't More People Using Bing?

This is a great question.  Why aren't more people using Bing for their search needs?  Well in all reality more people are using Bing, it's just that in North America, Google is still the dominant player with regards to search.  There are a number of reasons why people are still not flocking to Bing:

  1. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd - all of the "cool kids" are over at Google.  Google still has a 66% market share when it comes to search in the US.  People are creatures of habit and will go with what they know best.  Having said that there has been a changing of the guard when it comes to web properties with the number of popular social media sites popping up in recent years.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have been attracting users at some pretty amazing rates.  Why can't Bing so the same?
  2. Bing is a Microsoft product - because of that some people have associated a negative perception of the search engine.  The world has its fair share of "Microsoft Haters" and I would guess that some of these passionate people avoid Microsoft products as a result.
  3. Microsoft has always sucked at Search - in the beginning this was simply a result of not placing enough focus on search.  Even Bill Gates stated that Microsoft was slow out of the gates when it came to search.  So then Microsoft had to play catch up and are still playing catch up.  However they have done some positive things when it comes to search, their partnership and Facebook integration being just one example.  The fact is Bing had to and still has to be better as a search engine.
  4. Quality of Search Results - this might be the one area that Bing should be exploiting right now.  More and more people are becoming unhappy with Google search results.  That is not to say that Bing's results are better, but algorithm updates such as Panda have really starting to take its toll on many Google users.  I use search a lot as part of my digital marketing efforts.  A while back I noticed that Google's results were getting worse (based on the queries that I was performing) and as a result a wrote a quick little post on the fact that I began cheating on Google with Bing.  Bing's results were/are getting better while Google's search results were/are getting worse (again based on the queries that I was performing).  Bing should be stepping it up right now and be promoting the fact that their search results are improved while the other guy (i.e. Google) are experiencing some difficulties right now. 
  5. Google has more brand prominence than Bing - year in an year out we hear that Google is one of the world's top brands, yet we have never heard this about Bing (Microsoft does make the list however as the parent company).  In 2011, for example Microsoft's brand value decreased by 3% while Google's increased by 27% placing the two in the number three and four spots in Interbrand's Top Brand report.  Other reports such as this one have Google as the top brand in the world with Microsoft a distant #19.  Google was #3 in Forbes top brand list for 2011 whereas Microsoft came in at #11.  People just seem to like Google better than Bing (or Microsoft).
Google is still the leader in search for a number of reasons:
  • they have a larger index
  • they have better algorithms (when they use them properly)
  • they throw more computing power at their search efforts
  • they generate a ton of advertising revenue
  • they have a well versed and experienced search quality team lead by the very personable Matt Cutts
Bing has an opportunity here to make a statement and say hey "Google's good, but we're not so bad either...."  It is true that more and more users are becoming frustrated with Google's results.  Why not promote Bing as the alternate destination and wow the searchers with:
  1. A great SERP (Search Engine Results Page) user experience.
  2. Relevant Results that are timely and provide the information the user was looking for.
  3. A clean index with less spam and poor quality sites.
I read reports that Bing had reduced the importance of link popularity as part of their ranking algorithms.  This is great as link popularity can and has been totally gamed by sites who have artificially risen to the top of the search results in some cases.  The fact that Bing can potentially do something about this has to be commended.  Bing's ranking algorithms are different than Google (they admit to using CTR as part of their ranking algorithm) and as a result they appear to be better positioned to control the spam in their index.  It probably does not hurt that Bing's index is smaller than Google's which I think is part of the problem with Google as of late. 

We're not talking about understanding every little detail of the algorithms or trying to reverse engineer the algorithms, we just want the best results to appear when we type in a search query. 

I do think that Bing is missing an opportunity to win some users from Google.  Whether it is through promotion of the Bing product as being more spam free, better real-time results or what have you.  The past 12 months have been challenging for Google search and while there have been a number of changes made I sense that the discontent with Google's search results is at an all-time high.  I still use Google, but I do use Bing more often, just as I use Twitter more often and Facebook more often. 

The fact is Google needs competition in search.  Right now Bing, and to a lesser extent, Yahoo is that competition.  Therefore it makes sense for Bing to step it up and provide the information that users are looking for in the quickest manner possible.  If they can accomplish more of this, then I would expect more people to use Bing and their search products.  Frustration alone with Google might just be the little boost that Bing needs to play a bigger game in the world of Search.

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posted by Jody @ 6:34 AM  
  • At 11:38 AM, Blogger Consultyou.net said…

    I think more people will consider this after the Penguin nightmare. My client, a well known lawyer, vanished from Google after sitting on the first page for about 35 search terms. He also uses Google Adwords, and pays up to $50 a click for some of those same search terms. Where it gets strange is for those same search terms he is on the 1st of Bing and Yahoo searches. I use Raven Tools SERP tracking and today it looks real odd to see the disparity in results. What are we being led to believe about Google. Is Google right and the other engines wrong...something fishy going on!

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