Search engines are most people’s portal to the internet. There is a good chance that one is your homepage, and it is where you begin your journeys on the world wide web. The search engine market is dominated by Google, but Bing is beginning to challenge its might and chip away at its share of web searches. What is the difference between the two, and which is better? Let’s find out.
Not All Searches Are the Same
You can be forgiven for thinking that both companies offer pretty much the same product, like Coke and Pepsi. The differences between them are actually much starker than just a matter of taste.
Both companies do have a secret recipe though, just like the beverage brewers. They rank sites in unique ways and give different weights to different search criteria. This is why a search on Google can provide very different results to the same search query on Bing, or indeed any other search engine.
Google uses over 200 unique factors to rank web pages. It scores a website and its pages based on criteria like its domain name, on-site and off-site spam, the number of backlinks, and a number of other factors some of which it does not disclose. They update these criteria and the values they assign to websites regularly, which makes staying on top of Search Engine Optimization a priority for many businesses.
Bing takes a different approach to its page ranking. It gives greater weight to factors like location, page loading time, freshness, and the amount of user engagement the page and its parent site receive. These criteria are perhaps beneficial to Bing’s users but make it harder for SEO, and a lack of attention to backlinking makes Bing harder to work with for digital marketing.
Google Is the Goliath in This Match Up
Since its first day online, the Google search engine has offered users a clean-looking user interface that has rarely been changed or updated. The central artwork may change to celebrate special occasions, but the basic layout is simple and intuitive to use.
Google has defined what a web search experience should be, and its brand name has become a verb in the English language. To google something is to search for it. This is either incredibly lucky or the result of some incredibly effective marketing. It is no surprise the company is so dominant in the web search market, consistently claiming over 90% of US-based web searches.
The crisp, clean, and quick user experience of a Google search is one of its primary appeals but beneath the plain white screen and blue hyperlinks lurks an ugly truth. Consumers are slowly becoming aware of how their data is collected by the company and used to market products to them and send targeted advertising their way.
The service also ‘bubbles’ users, deciding which results are appropriate for them based on their user profile. This has led many consumers to look for search alternatives to protect their data and find services and products that have been hidden from their view.
Bing Is the Only Challenger to Google’s Throne
Microsoft launched Bing! in 2009 as its branded search engine with much fanfare but little market interest. Google had already claimed the majority of the market and was leveraging its Adwords service to create a powerful search engine that matched consumers to advertising in ways that had never been thought of before.
Since then, Microsoft Bing! has lost the exclamation mark and finally the ‘Microsoft’ to become simply Bing, and has grown into the world’s second favorite search engine. Second place may not sound like much of a success but the competition for users outside of Google’s dominance is fierce. Bing’s rise through the ranks of search engine providers was prolific and consolidated users from all the existing search engines into one loyal customer base.
Bing is in some ways the anti-google, giving users a web search experience that is more interested in being helpful than in marketing products. The service is much less intrusive, and Bing seems to know less about you and your consumer habits which many people find reassuring.
The Bing user experience is focused on the user, offering convenience and assistance instead of trying to lead them in a certain direction that suits their revenue from advertising. This in some ways makes Bing an ‘anti google’ type of search engine, like DuckDuckGo or Brave Search.
Privacy and data collection are becoming bigger concerns for consumers. By focusing on a personalized user experience rather than personalized searches, Bing is setting itself up to grab an even bigger portion of the market.
And the Winner Is…
The two search engines provide very different services. On the surface level, they may not seem that different, but when you dig a little deeper it becomes apparent that they are unique services that offer very different products.
Google’s search results can be intrusive but also intuitive. The top half of the first page of their search results can often be exactly what you are looking for, but when you need to go beyond those results is where the user experience is lacking.
The data it collects, and how the company uses it, should make anyone pause for a moment and consider who is the customer in this transaction. Google’s focus is less on the person searching and more on the products and services it is promoting. This can skew results, trap users in a bubble, and make people feel uneasy about how their data is being used.
Bing provides broader search results and easier access to useful information and search tools. Though the results it provides may be more diverse and less precise, this can actually enhance the user experience for many people and give them peace of mind. Which is best greatly depends on you and what you are searching for. The chances are you already use Google regularly, why not give Bing a try to see if it suits you?
The dominance of Google is long overdue a challenge and Bing has the backing of one of the world’s most established and wealthy companies: Microsoft. Though it will take time, Bing has all the qualities needed to hack away at Google’s share of the market and provide consumers with a viable alternative.