Will Bing Really Make a Difference in the Search Engine Wars?


It is a story of déjà vu all over again. Microsoft has launched another search engine in an attempt to make some progress in the search engine wars. The question is whether Bing will actually end up making any difference?

The field of battle plays out as follows. Google controls the vast amount of it and is looking dangerously aggressive regarding those parts it does not control. Microsoft controls a very small section of the field, but has hordes of ammunition [cash] and is looking for a way to use it. Yahoo has its own section, but is under siege and appears ripe for the taking. This leaves Microsoft and Google as our two main predators.

Google has always relied on the pillar of its search engine. Generally, Google is viewed as the best when it comes to producing quality results. The integration of video, news and other platforms into the search results has generally been well received. “Live”, the last Microsoft search engine, wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t something great. With Bing, it hopes to change that.

The biggest thing about Bing is the new search parameters. Microsoft has actually tried to create a new niche search approach. The Bing search function is tailored to four verticals to enhance the search results. They include the buying decision, finding local businesses, making health decisions and planning trips. Put another way, the engine is designed to emphasize product purchases, health, local businesses and travel, which just happen to be four of the bigger niches on the web.

So, does it work? Generally, I would say yes. The verticals return results similar to, but not exactly the same as Google. The difference is more in how the results are returned, with the verticals producing listings based on projected interests. For instance, a search for “diabetes” produces verticals for diabetes symptoms, diabetes diet, diabetes complications, diabetes test, and diabetes prevention all of which have three search results listed under them. Google does the same, but on a much smaller scale.

So, will all of this allow Microsoft to take the battle to Google? I doubt it, but only time will tell. Microsoft should be applauded for taking a different approach, but it is not a huge improvement over Google. Google is so established at this point that only a major step forward or rethinking of search would make a difference. Bing is definitely not that.

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