Search Engine Wars: Can Bing Topple Google?

By | October 4, 2009

Posted on 29. Sep, 2009 by Trond in SEO

Now that Bing’s been out for a while, one wonders if this is the search engine that can finally topple Google. As the default search engine with the latest version of Internet Explorer coupled with a massive advertising campaign, many computer users are giving Bing a try and finding that Bing isn’t just a pretty interface with its gorgeous images and fun facts, it’s a search engine that works.

What’s so great about Bing? After all, who needs another search engine? Surprisingly, Bing introduces features that make searching for relevant content easier and more enjoyable than ever before. Coupled with the new features of Internet Explorer 8, Bing is well positioned for success. Among the more notable features are:

  • A gorgeous interface. Each day, a new background image appears with small hotspots that reveal fun facts about the image when the mouse is hovered over them. Along the bottom of the image are related links should you be inspired to find out more. In contrast, Google’s home page remains white and boring. Yes, the Google logo is playfully tweaked from time to time, but for highly visual people, that pales in comparison to Bing’s imagery.
  • Search results. Both search engines are good at returning relevant search results. In fact, a search on both sites for “cilantro” turned up nearly identical results. Both sites suggest related results though Bing’s related results are more easily found in a neat pane along the left side of the screen. This is easier and more intuitive than having to scroll to the bottom of the screen to see Google’s suggestions. Where Bing really shines is with its “extended preview” bar. Simply hover the mouse over a thin vertical bar to the right of the search result and see preview text snippets and other information found on the particular page.
  • Bing “cashback.” Both Bing and Google offer shopping links related to search entries. For example, by clicking the Shopping link after searching for cilantro, a list of products available for purchase appear. With a Bing cashback account, users receive cashback savings from participating merchants. For example, currently, VistaPrint offers free shipping and 16% cashback to Bing cashback shoppers.
  • Video preview. Ever go to a video site, click the play button and wait for the video to load only to find it’s not what you expected? Bing’s video preview solves that. Simply hover over the video thumbnail in the video search results list and the video will begin playing.
  • Direct answers. Want to know how your favorite baseball team did last night? Wondering what aspartame is? Wondering if your friend’s flight is on time? Bing gives direct answers! For example, enter the name of your baseball team and see scores at the top of the list. As a “What is” question and get a direct answer from Encarta. Type “flight status” along with the flight number and get instant information about the flight.
  • Local information. Bing detects a user’s IP address and delivers local information related to search entries. For example, enter the title of a movie and Bing will display local movie listings at the top of the search results.

Bing becomes even more useful when used in conjunction with Internet Explorer 8.0. When Internet Explorer is downloaded, Bing is set as the default search engine for the browser and an optional MSN toolbar can be installed. The MSN Toolbar features a Bing search field as well as numerous channels for one-click access to news, sports, videos, entertainment, lifestyle, health, financial, and automotive content.

While users can easily change the default search engine back to Google, if they give Bing a try, they may never get around to doing so. That alone may be enough to topple Google.