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Why Microsoft’s Bing is The Grand Old Duke of York



Poor Bing.com. It seems that for every good news I read, I read something equally pessimistic. It’s gotten to the point where I think of Bing as the Grand Old Duke of York (bear with me if you’re not English-born):

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up;
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

OK, first the good news! Efficient Frontier is reporting that Microsoft’s Bing.com is seeing an 8% increase in the number of clicks on paid search results. They’re also reporting a 20% lift in the number of overall search queries conducted on the search engine since the re-brand.

OK, now for the "when they were down, they were down" news.

Compete is challenging the reports that Bing is seeing an increase in market share–certainly one that can last. Key to its argument:

…this uptick hasn’t come at the expense of Google or Yahoo!, which have maintained searcher penetration since Bing’s launch.

New searchers are exploring Bing, but they haven’t forsaken their preferred engines and made the switch completely.

OK, but here’s where we get to that part where 3rd-party data is open to interpretation by the reader. See, Compete suggests that Bing.com has seen a reduction in the amount of search queries per searcher since launch:

Compete’s interpretation of this:

Prior to Bing’s launch, Microsoft maintained an average 5.2 queries per searcher. Since Bing’s launch, the average has dropped by 1.3 queries or 25%, with millions dropping by just to perform a couple of trial queries.

I’m not so sure, and I suspect Microsoft might have something to say about this too. You see, one of the key messages behind Bing’s launch is that searchers are spending too much time searching for what they need. Bing is intentionally designed to reduce the amount of searching needed, before the searcher finds what they are looking for, hence the whole "decision engine" push.

So what we do know is that paid search clicks are up, search queries per user are down, but market share may be neither up nor down. ;-)

  • http://domusinc.blogspot.com/2009/06/attacks-on-google-and-microsoft.html Marco

    Interesting theory. It does seem that people love to attack Microsoft, including knocking down their good news.

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    Measuring search market share on the basis of number of queries performed is a waste of time. Compete’s analysis is invalid because it’s based on an obsolete concept.

    Would you want your SEO customers to gauge your success on the basis of number of page views or on the basis of number of conversions?

    What Compete, comScore, Hitwise, and Nielsen all need to do is bring their metrics into the 21st Century and focus on Search Conversions.

    A Search Conversion results whenever the search user finds what they are looking for. But Search Conversions can be divided into Internal Search Conversions (where the search tool’s own user-facing data provides the resolution) and External Search Conversions (where the search tool sends the user to another resource).

    Search Conversion can be measured for any site that has a Web search tool. Your own site search has to have some ratio of successes to failures that determine your users’ search success.

    This is what we need to know when discussing search engine market share: what are their search conversions? How many failures do they have? How many internal conversions do they have? How many external conversions do they have?

    All this pageview-based “number of queries performed” measuring is just nonsense without any meaning or relevance to what is happening in search today.

  • http://standoffsystems.com Scott Adie

    Is it not a little early in the game to ding a Bing. I remember the early VW’s used to roll-over real easy (I tested this ability myself a couple of times) but after awhile, they finally got it right. The core was always solid but the peripherals needed a little work. So it was then and so it may be once again.

    And yes there was criminal intent when I said ‘ding a Bing’. Old surfers will remember Bing surfboards that had a rubber rail around their perimeter so they wouldn’t get edge damage when something hit them on the sides.

  • http://www.easytourchina.com/ China tours

    I found that some of the visits to my site came from bing.com in the past couple of weeks, but this new-lanched search engine didn’t see much difference from Live as they claimed. If they want to overtake Yahoo, even google, it is a long way to go …

  • Daryl Formen

    it’s not surprising that this site knocks Bing and anything Microsoft.
    Look at all the Ads by Google — since this site is making $$$ from Google, it is not impartial in its analyses of non-Google wares.

  • http://www.simplycast.com MIchael

    It will take forever for people to work BIng into their daily routine, if ever.

    There is a lot of Microsoft hate to overcome, that is for sure.

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