SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Janakiram MSV, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

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Search Smackdown: Bing Vs. Google

That was fast. Irish programmer and SEO specialist Paul Savage has made this very basic web service, which lists all results for search queries on Google and Bing side by side so you can compare which one produces the best results for the keywords you enter on one single page. We’ve played around with it a bit and found that the tool proves that the user experience for both search engines really is very different:

- searching for ‘Google’

Google will show news results about themselves first, and a link to their homepage later, which makes sense since people are probably already on there. The rest of the results consists of Google products and local versions of the search service. Noteworthy difference is the presence of a button that lets you drop down a widget displaying information about Google’s stock without the need to leave the page.

Bing, on the other hand, provides a list of possible extended search queries on the left sidebar, and a list of useful direct links to Google services below the first result. It also lists ’similar’ searches on the right sidebar (not visible in this screenshot) with alternative services - Bing being the first one they recommend. It also displays a box that you can use to jump to Google search, and it keeps track of your search history right on the page, unless you turn that feature off.

- searching for ‘TechCrunch’

Google only shows internal network links on the first SERP with the exception of our Twitter account, Netvibes profile and Wikipedia entry, while Bing mostly shows links to third-party services (Wikipedia, OnSugar, Flux, Blip.tv, AboutUs.org, Facebook, GitHub, Mahalo, etc.). From the viewpoint of TC the company, the latter situation is not ideal, and to top it off running the query on Bing apparently means potential visitors will see the names of competing blogs in the left sidebar. On the upside, you can open the Wikipedia article on TechCrunch on the same page, which makes for a seamless user experience if information about us was what you were looking for.

- searching for ‘Linux’

Using Google, you get much better results for this query, period. Google lists at least five very relevant links (Kernel.org, Debian.org, RedHat.com, LinuxJournal.com and LI.org) that you will not find in the first 15 search results on Bing. No nifty sidebars, nor any amount of spot-on similar results will help Microsoft here.

- searching for ‘Office Space quotes’

Here, Bing takes the top prize, although with this particular query the results are much more similar, which can be attributed to the fact that it is more detailed (three words instead of one like the other examples). Why do I say that? Because Bing is the only one of both that correctly lists the movie Office Space’s Wikipedia entry in the first few results, while Google doesn’t even list until the fifth page of results (both rank Wikiquote quite high). Also, this is where the extended search options in the left sidebar at Bing really shine: ‘Office Space sound clips’, ‘Office Space WAV files’, ‘Office Space Clips’, etc. - that’s the stuff you’d likely be looking for.

It is far too early and this is far too unscientific a research method to jump to any conclusions - we’d need a Jump to Conclusions mat for that - but using Savage’s tool gives you a nice clean overview of what most people who’ve tried both engines today: Google and Bing at the very least feel very different, and while you can argue about the quality of one engine versus the other back and forth as much as you want, it’s painfully clear both need improvement. Of course, if there continues to be no clear winner on the quality front, then Google has already won the battle before it starts, expensive ad campaigns be damned.

That said, please allow me to reiterate a point Michael made yesterday as well as in the past, that I most definitely agree with: Microsoft is damn right not to give up the search game yet like some are suggesting they should. Please stop calling for a monopoly in search, let these companies compete and fight hard for every user, and I’m sure we’ll see more innovation in this space soon enough.

(Via @PatPhelan)

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