Microsoft’s upstart search engine now delivers results that are just as good or slightly better than Google’s, according to a post on Search Engine Land by a marketing manager for legal directory Avvo.
Conrad Saam conducted 20 searches on both Bing and Google, avoiding easy navigational searches like trying to find the right URL for a particular company. Instead he split searches between tough informational questions, like “attorney Tom Brady,” which Google mistook for a query about the famous NFL quarterback, and transactional searches like “Cheapest flights Seattle to Launceston”. Then, he subjectively rated the accuracy and authority of the results.
The test wasn’t scientific, and the sample size was small. And Google did much better on some searches.
But Saam’s point is that search quality is subjective. When Google emerged, everybody who tried it immediately agreed that it was way better than anything else. Now, it’s not.
Microsoft has been saying this for a couple of years now, but its tests were mostly internal so easy to discount.
Of course, as we’ve argued before — and as Microsoft has admitted — it’s not enough for Bing to be just as good as Google. The Google habit is so entrenched that users assume they’re getting better search results when they see the Google logo on top of a page — even if the results actually come from Bing and Microsoft has secretly switched the logos.
That’s why Microsoft is concentrating on adding information that Google can’t easily duplicate, like predictions of whether airline ticket prices will rise or fall, and “likes” from your Facebook friends. Microsoft hopes that users will come for these features, then realise that Bing is just as good as Google for other types of searches as well.