Making Information Useful: Bing vs. Google

We analyse how online search technology is shaping the way in which we gather and process information, and look at two search engine giants, Google and Bing

Online Search technology is continually changing and shaping the way in which we gather and process information. “Search is becoming a navigational interface. The way we used to navigate this vast knowledge space that exists out there is much larger than anything we could jump up on the computer.” (Batell, J2005 The Future of Online Search).

Since revolutionising the world of online search, Google has established itself as a household brand. Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s idea of restructuring the world’s information around the intention of the searcher has turned the Internet into one of the most popular information vehicles in the world today. Search technology is a complex science and Search Engines are continually evolving towards smarter forms of finding, arranging and displaying information.

According to Internet World Stats, 1,596,270,108 of the world’s population are now Internet users. The challenge for Search Engines today is to display search results that are relevant to the unique requirements of the searcher, processing the small amounts of information given by searcher. According to comScore, approximately 30 percent of searches are abandoned without a satisfactory result. The success of Search Engines depends on their ability to display search results that are not only relevant but also useful.

Bing, the new kid on the block

Microsoft recently launched Bing, labeling it as a “decision search engine”– helping people to make faster, more informed decisions. Bing was designed to simplify online information navigation; knowing that an information saturated web requires better and more user-centric search experiences. Many searchers are struggling to digest and apply information because of the vast amount of information with which they get bombarded on a daily basis.

According to Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmet, Search engines are helping people to find information on the web, but they are not actively enabling people to use that information. It is still too early to tell if Bing will actually succeed in empowering people to make decisions more quickly on the web. Information overload can easily pacify online users, preventing them from making informed decisions. Methods of simplifying the decision-making process are becoming more important as forms of online search expand and progress.

Some facts about Bing

  • Bing is a Commercial Search Engine owned by Microsoft
  • It was formerly known as Live Search, Windows Live Search and MSN Search
  • It’s available in different languages
  • Bing Was launched earlier this year, 03 June 2009
  • It is advertised a “decision” engine
  • Search suggestions and related searches are listed in real time as queries are entered
  • Bing also includes the ability to Save & Share search histories via Windows Live SkyDrive, Facebook, and e-mail.
    Most of the new features in Bing currently are only available in the United States version

Google vs. Bing

With a new Search Engine on the scene, people’s initial instinct will most likely be to compare search results. Users can compare the different search results displayed via both Google and Bing through the online Google/ Bing comparison tool. This comparison tool enables you to enter a search request and to view the results from both Search Engines mirrored side by side on your screen.

2009 was a big year for Microsoft. Not only did they launch their new “decision-making” Search engine but they also announced their imminent partnership with former rivals, Yahoo. 2010 will be an even bigger year as we’ll see the search-and-advertising agreement between Yahoo and Microsoft take effect.

Microsoft has already had some success with Windows 7 this year. The public’s response to their latest operating system has been much more positive than that of its predecessor, Vista. But what can we expect from Microsoft in terms of Search Engine Technology in the year ahead? Last year we speculated over whether or not Bing would be able to dethrone Google as the leading authority in search technology. Looking around the web this year, we found some more information to fuel the raging debate.

Steve Ballmer on ‘Bing’

In a recent interview with Steve Ballmer on CNN technology, Ballmer briefly discussed the public’s response to Bing thus far and what we can look forward to in the near future. According to Ballmer, Bing picked up 11 million users during the past year and its Market shares are steadily climbing (Microsoft’s share of the US search-engine market could rise close to 30 percent, thanks to its 10-year deal with Yahoo). It might take a while for Bing to dominate Search traffic but Ballmer believes that people are drawn to the fact that Bing is a unique type of User Interface, offering different types of search tools.

The Deciding Factor

Bing remains a distant third when it comes to driving search traffic to the majority of websites but according to some online marketers, visitors directed to sites via Bing may be more valuable than visitors coming through via other search engines. Bing has a relatively high CTR (Click Through Rate) for advertisements in comparison to Google’s Adwords, leading many to believe that Bing is more likely to get the right people to view the right information.

Microsoft continues to evolve their search technology, streamlining search requests to deliver information that is relevant and useful to the user. Search engines are an integral part of a user’s all-round Internet experience, forcing search engine giants to constantly find smarter and better ways to deliver search results that are an exact match to the user’s request.

Bing’s success this year will revolve around two things, firstly its ability to be the ‘decision-making’ search engine that it claims to be and secondly, its ability to gain a following amongst the vast number of loyal Google users. Will Bing be able to change their brand into a new search-verb, giving online socialites another reason to ‘bing’ around the web in search of useful information?

One thing is for sure, the increased competition between Google and Bing this year will surely benefit the Internet user. In a battle between two corporate giants who both have a ton of money and resources, don’t be surprised to see a few amazing deals and gadgets geared towards grabbing your attention … so enjoy.

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