Nov 24, 2009

The Search For Search, Part III: Bing v. Google v. Yahoo.

Now that Microsoft and Yahoo are joining forces in search (Microhoo?), this three-way comparison may no longer be needed. Google still dominates the market: as of last summer, Yahoo and Microsoft had a combined U.S. query market share of 28 percent while Google stood at 65 percent, according to ComScore. However, the Yahoo/Microsoft deal is likely to mean that Microsoft will incorporate Yahoo’s search technology while using Microsoft’s AdCenter and the Bing search engine to power both sites. Should be interesting.

Since Bing’s official launch in May, the Internet’s been abuzz about this new contender in the world of search. Is it better than Google? Depends on how you define “better”, in terms of accuracy, speed, number of results, usability, etc. While replacing its “Live Search” engine, Microsoft describes Bing as a ‘decision engine’, which attempts to figure out the search intent rather than just matching keywords to web documents.

Does it make a difference? You be the judge. Now you can compare search results side by side at two sites created just for this purpose, at bing vs. Google or BlindSearch. Choose a search query, the more specific the better, and see for yourself.

Clearly, Bing is an improvement over Live search. In addition to many user-interface changes, Bing is packed with search tools: an Explorer Pane for refining searches, Quick Previews for taking a sneak-peek before visiting a site, Sentiment Extraction for making sense of product reviews, and Search History. The biggest difference perhaps is the way Bing parses and displays search results, organized into Search Categories: Web, Images, Videos, Shopping, Maps, and more.

Bing’s design and functionality are popular with many Internet users – but is it enough to make them switch from Google (or Yahoo)? One recent study of primarily Google users concluded that most preferred the look and feel and overall organization of Bing features but that Google’s result relevance still holds up as the better engine.

What’s your preference: Bing, Google, Yahoo – or something else?

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