opinion

The Ascent of Bing

Stephen Yagielowicz

The battle between the search engines continues to escalate, with upstart Bing coming into its stride — capturing more than 30 percent of all domestic searches, according to a recent report by research analysts Experian Hitwise.

This figure represents a five percent gain in overall search volume during the month of February — an increase resulting from the inclusion of Yahoo! properties in the tally — with Bing generating 14.3 percent, while Yahoo! delivered 15.7 percent of searches.

Since its launch, Bing has tried to make it easy for users to access the service from 'any device, anytime'.

Google reportedly maintains its lion’s share of the U.S. search market, boasting 64.4 percent of searches during the same period — an indisputably substantial amount, but a decline (down around four points since early January) that is reflective of the company’s diminishing dominance in the face of stiff competition.

One controversial metric contained in the report seeks to measure “search success,” via comparing the percentages of search results with user out-clicks to those results — with Google’s 66 percent success rate lagging behind the Bing / Yahoo! juggernaut and its 81 percent success rate.

The accuracy of this method of measuring search result relevance is questioned by Google and others, but anecdotal user reviews seem to support the overall findings — and this bottom-line comparison of a search engine’s ability to provide users with the info they’re seeking may readily account for Google’s decline in popularity against the Bing “decision engine.”

Those numbers are from March; and during the meantime, Bing-backer Microsoft has not been idle — penning a deal with RIM to prominently place Bing on the BlackBerry.

Since its launch, Bing has tried to make it easy for users to access the service from “any device, anytime,” rolling out innovative services to bolster its decision tools.

These new experiences highlight how the mobile landscape is changing.

Devices are becoming sensors that can provide real-time access to information to help people quickly complete tasks on the go. We’re going to see a convergence of search, commerce, social and location-centric services where Bing will provide the intelligence and the organizing layer in the cloud that connects a user’s intent with action, helping people be more productive,” Bing Director Matt Dahlin stated. “For us, this goes way beyond a ‘search box’ and links that rank URLs representing a set of web documents. For us, it’s about finding real tools that help real people get things done. Bing is about fast decisions, combining the topical graph with your social graph — as well as the geospatial graph — to connect the real world and the digital universe like never before.”

Heady stuff to be sure, but an indication to adult webmasters and online marketers that the days of worrying exclusively about your Google listings are over: now you have Bing’s decision engine to take seriously as well.

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