Bing vs Google – no fancy analytics, pure personal experience


I read an interesting post by Anil Dash where he used the Mechanical Turk to perform some analysis on the quality of search results being generated by Bing and Google. In the post, Anil says that Bing is an improvement over live, but still has some way to go before catching up to Google. But Anil also says that the difference is not big. Now that is where I feel differently.

Here’s my (probably myopic) view on the situation. And this is based on the fact that I use Google quite extensively in my daily routine, and I switched over to using Bing about 10 days ago. Below is the sum total of my experience on Bing.

Well, let me begin by saying that I use Chrome as my browser. I setup Bing as the default search engine on it. This is important because I am used to searching by simply opening a new tab and typing my search query (or using Alt+D to go to the address bar of the current tab). Now, in Chrome, when you want to do a search query, if you prefix the term Google to it, Chrome automatically converts this into a Google Quick Search (as shown below):

So, by setting the search engine to default, and using Google Quick Search, I can use both the engines without much inconvenience barrier. This is what allows me to see quickly what Google is giving when I am not able to find what I am looking for on the first page of search results on Bing.

Google understands context better! That is my conclusion. Google knows what I am looking for.

USE CASE 1:

I saw on Twitter that one of the featured Twitter applications is called wefollow.com. Well, I went to wefollow.com and couldn’t make heads and tails out of what the heck it is. So, I binged it. Here’s the exact search phrase I used:

what is wefollow.com

The results on Bing were disappointing. The first page didn’t have a single result which explained what wefollow.com is. Here’s a screenshot of the results page (to run the query yourself, click here: http://tinyurl.com/l52fkt.

Here’s the result from Google on the same query (to run it click here: http://tinyurl.com/ltbyl9):

Notice the huge difference in the quality of results. I immediately get several links which will explain to me what wefollow.com is. Now, that is what I call search results quality.

USE CASE 2:

A few days ago, I was encountering an error in my WordPress installation. One of the plugins was misbehaving, and was throwing an error on the WordPress pages. So I binged again with part of the error message as the search query.

Bing returned me a set of results each one of which was a site which was experiencing the same error. Read that again. This means that the results that Bing returned to me were sites where this error was displaying on the page as well.

Google returned me sites where other people had written about this error (forums and blogs).

USE CASE 3:

I used Google to find the time in various cities around the world a lot (visit that link if you don’t know how that works). Here are some queries that I ran on both Bing and Google:

I live in Gurgaon. Bing doesn’t even recognize it as a place where it should give time.

And in this one, both of them show the New York Times site as the first result, but Google also shows the current time in New York, which is what I was searching for.

By the way, Bing does have the feature of showing time. Try searching for San Jose time (or click here: http://tinyurl.com/m67xvw). It shows you the time in San Jose, California. If you make the same search in Google though, it shows you the time in San Jose, California as well as San Jose, Costa Rica.

Conclusion

There are tons of queries that i can keep displaying (because I am experiencing this on a daily basis). I am not saying that I always have to go back to Google. But a lot of times the results that Bing returns are just not good enough.

Note, for the times I do not go back to Google, it doesn’t mean Bing gave better results. It only means, that I found what I expected (for all I know for these queries Google might give better results, I won’t know since I don’t try in these cases).

In conclusion, I can safely say, that for my footprint of queries, Google does a better job of understanding my intent.

So, why do I use Bing? Well, I like Microsoft (please don’t start a flame war) and I would like to see some competition in the search space (as competition usually ends up benefiting the consumer = me).

What are your experiences on Bing?


17 thoughts on “Bing vs Google – no fancy analytics, pure personal experience”

  1. You love Microsoft. You run the risk of incurring the wrath of Google God!;) Maybe no more good search results :P

    On a serious note, its true Google understands the context better. I have tested i several times before, though I don’t use Bing on a regular basis.

  2. I analyzed 15 posts in my blog post Bing Brings its A Game and gave the nod to Bing overall. I just added a comment about the first query in a week for which I went back to Google.

    I didn’t understand your first result analysis; the first result’s title from Bing tells you what wefollow is.

    The [New York time] and [gurgaon time] queries are interesting. The organic search results look similar, so it may just be a matter of setting the threshold for displaying a time lower on Bing.

    1. Hi Bob,

      the first result on Bing for the wefollow query tells me the same thing that wefollow.com tells me. If I am searching on a search engine for “what is wefollow.com” then I think I am looking for something better than what the site tells me already.

      That is why I say that Google understands the context better. Look at what Google shows me – the first two results are blog entries from people who explain what wefollow.com is.

  3. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

    As I wrote, I’ve found Google much superior on science issues, though Bing is changing very rapidly. My concern is getting good sources, since I’m a teacher and we assign research projects that require internet use. I’d prefer students be directed to good sources by these applications, and Bing is striking out.

    VG: Here’s the link to Ed’s post which details this issue: http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/for-science-bing-loses-badly-to-google-not-safe-for-school-kids/

  4. I am finding just the opposite in my searches. Most of my searches are related to classical music. Check out this search term on google and bing,

    string quartet atlanta ga

    All of the google results on the first page are nothing but wedding quartets. Why did google assume I meant weddings only? I may have meant weddings but I didn’t specify either. The Bing results, in addition to wedding quartets, return quartets in the Atlanta area that give serious concerts on the first page such as the Kazanetti Quartet, the Vega String Quartet and the Lyra String Quartet.

    1. My theory on why you are seeing only wedding quartets is that they are the most likely to game the results with google oriented SEO tricks. This is why except for technology research I find Bing has more relevant results. I feel that Google results are too often spam.

    2. Jamie,

      In your case, you could have just refined your Google search by adding “-wedding” to the end of your search phrase and pressing enter.

      I agree that some queries will provide better results on Google, and some on Bing. But I do not agree that–at least for examples like yours–we need to use both search engines. In your example, a simple refinement of the query may have significantly improved the results you were looking for.

      Also, because Google now uses Personalized Search by default, if you consistently searched for classical music related subjects, and consistently avoided links to wedding bands, Google should quickly learn to stop ranking wedding bands at the top of the results.

  5. I’ve used Google religously forever, until today. Google’s new sidewiki that hijacks websites allowing strangers to flame websites is unethical and wrong. Regardless of Google’s search abilities I have boycotted them and refuse to go back until they end this crap. Boycott Google and it’s unethical business practises.

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