Really? Before anyone jokes that you would have to be blind to choose Bing ahead of Google, the title refers to the intriguing results of a new research study.
The study found that in ‘blind tests’ people chose Bing web search results over Google by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1 – of almost 1000 participants, 57.4% chose Bing more often, 30.2% chose Google more often whilst 12.4 % resulted in a draw.
These startling results form the basis of Microsoft’s new ‘Bing It On’ campaign – a side by side search off between Bing and Google. Blind tests mean that no branding, ads, Bing Snapshot and Social Search or Google’s Knowledge Graph were displayed in the search results.
i.e. users did not know (unless they were very tech savvy) which search results were from Google and which were from Bing – they just had to choose which they thought were the best results for their search. The details of the methodology reveal that:
“Participants were shown the main web search results pane of both Bing and Google for 10 search queries of their choice. Bing and Google search results were shown side-by-side on one page for easy comparison – with all branding removed from both search engines”.
It should be noted that, although the study was independent (and those tested were not told of Microsoft’s involvement), it was commissioned by Microsoft.
Not convinced? I tried the test with my own search terms and my results were 5 out of 5 in favor of Google…
The test is available to try at the Bing It On website – you get 5 search queries instead of the 10 offered in the study.
I’d suggest not using the example searches offered just in case they are a little biased in favor of Bing results…
Bing vs Google Market Share
According to StatCounter’s latest figures, Google totally dominate the global search engine market with a 91.01% usage share – up fractionally from 90.92% last year.
Bing is currently at just 3.22%, down marginally from 3.34% a year ago.
There are of course regional variations e.g. Baidu is huge in China and Bing jumps to almost 10% in the US (compared to Google’s 80%) but the overall picture for Bing is very gloomy.
The question the test tries to pose is how much of Google’s current popularity is due to branding, integration with Google services and user dislike of change – and how much is actually still due to it having ‘better’ search results.
Microsoft hope to show that it is mostly the former – that, technically, Bing search results have caught up with (or even surpassed) Google. It is a question that is well worth posing if Bing is ever to become more than a tiny bit part player.
However, the test doesn’t include important features that may sway users in their final choice of search engine – geolocation, look and feel of the results page, privacy, number/position of adverts, ‘cool factor’ and site specific extras like Knowledge Graph etc all contribute to the overall user experience.
Whilst the test does bring a level of objectivity to the table, a full comparison of the same searches at the actual websites should be undertaken before opting to switch search engine on the basis of these test results.
What was your score? Which search engine do you currently use – Google, Bing or something else?
Would your results make you switch if they showed that (without branding) you actually preferred the results from a different search engine?
Let us know in the comments.