No wonder Google seems so panicked about Bing.
The latest results from market researcher Experian Hitwise show not only that Bing grew at Google’s expense in January. They also show that Bing is delivering more accurate results.
In the U.S., Bing now powers more than 27% of search results, up from 25% in December. That’s despite a slight decline in traffic to Yahoo’s search site, which has been powered by Bing since December. In other words, the growth at Bing is coming from Microsoft’s own search site. Google’s share dropped a little more than a point, from nearly 70% to just under 69%. ComScore also shows Bing gaining fast at Google’s expense.
A bigger problem for Google: Experian found that 81% of search queries at Bing ended up with a user clicking a result. Only 65% of Google searches ended with a click.
This is not the only measure of accuracy or usefulness — some users might have clicked to pages that turned out to be garbage and then quickly abandoned them.
Also, Google’s popularity may be a hindrance: naive users who don’t how to build a good search query are more likely to start at Google than Bing. Google also probably gets more requests for obscure “long tail” queries which are hard to fill.
Still, this study reinforces the fact that 35% of search queries at Google deliver results that are SO BAD that users don’t bother to click a single one of them. That’s not good news for a market leader facing increasingly stiff competition.
The battle between the companies blew up last week at an event in San Francisco, as Google attacked Microsoft for apparently monitoring users’ search queries at Google and using the results to improve Bing; Microsoft shot back by accusing Google of profiting from the search spam it supposedly wants to stamp out.