For most people, the word ‘search engine’ is synonymous with Google. Even as I type this post on WordPress, I can see that the word ‘Google’ is accepted as a correct spelling whereas ‘Bing’ is underlined as a possible spelling error. Here’s the screenshot.
I think this is unfair to Bing. It is, in fact a very good search engine and has been around for quite a few years. Why hasn’t ‘Bing’ been added to major spell check directories yet?
Today, I will try to compare what each search engine does better from a common user’s point of view.
One of the main factors which determine whether a search engine is useful or not is its ability to understand local user intent. In a country like India with multiple languages, a local term in one city may be different from what the same means in another city.
I first searched for a term ‘Stock Market’ on Google and Bing. The results are as shown in the below screenshots.
What I like about Bing – it shows some information on the right side of the results. I like this extra bit of information, and I did read that part. It also shows the ‘people also search’ part which I like. As I am working in the SEO field, I have a tendency to look for the related search terms, so Bing helps me with this. Google used to show these results a few years back, but they have stopped it now. All we see is white space on the right side.
What I like about Google – the ads shown are truly local. The Angel Broking ad is common to both Google and Bing. In addition, Google shows an ad from Economic Times which is an Indian newspaper which has stock market news. Bing shows an ad from Sure Trader which is a US-based stock broker, as I can see brokerage prices mentioned in USD. This ad really has no relevance to an Indian user searching for ‘stock market’. It will block many other local advertisers who are bidding for this keyword and in fact, reduce Bing’s revenue from ads as no one from India is going to click this Sure Trader ad.
Overall, I like Google better for this particular query, because the organic results are placed higher and are visible even without scrolling down. Honestly, if my query is ‘stock market’, I am looking for stock market news or trying to learn what a stock market is, and not trying to open a trading account. If I were looking for a trading account I would search for ‘stock trading’. Bing could reduce the number of ads for this query.
Let me now search for ‘Sony videos’. There is a popular satellite channel called ‘Sony TV’ and my intent is to watch the videos of some of my favourite shows. Here are the search results.
As you can see, Google does not have a single result which satisfies my intent. It shows a result for Sony music, which is nowhere close to my intent. The rest of them are all about Sony Playstation, how to edit a video using Sony Xperia and so on.
If you look at Bing, it shows one result for Sony Liv – Official Site, which was exactly what I was looking for. I would have liked to see this on top, but at least Bing managed to give the right result on page 1.
I think Bing gets more points for this query, because of the diversity of results on page 1 and its ability to understand the local user intent better. It also shows a link to video results on page 1, but Google hasn’t shown video results despite the presence of ‘video’ in the query. They probably expect users to click the ‘video’ results but that’s too much to expect from inexperienced searchers.
A couple of years back, Google was good at understanding local user intent, but I am surprised that they seem to be losing it now. Bing is actually getting better! The biggest disadvantage for Bing in a country like India is that low-cost Android phones are more popular here and people now search more on their mobile devices than on computers. Google has a massive advantage because of this and though Bing is getting better in terms of quality of local results, not many are aware of it.
Competition is good for the market and it will be nice to see Bing getting their act together and giving tough competition to Google. That doesn’t really seem to be happening in India with more and more people purchasing Android devices with Google search on them.