If you’ve been reading the IT news you may have seen an article from Experian pushing out some statistics on Goole losing ground and effectiveness to Bing. Really, if you love statistics, head on over to Experian for the full scoop, they have a few clearly laid out images showing the data they have collected. What I’d like to do is discuss the interpretation of the data and some of the seemingly odd takes that people around the web have on the info at hand.
First, lets discuss what made the headlines, the 21 percent increase in Jan 2011. Google has been making all sorts of changes lately, instant search being one of them. On at least one browser I own, it’s now defaulting to Bing as the search engine because I do not want Google looking at everything I’m typing into the address bar on that browser and then trying to suggest something.
There are privacy and performance issues at play for my decision, and while I could hack at the browser to disable it and keep Google as the default, I personally didn’t have time for it, and I’m a nerd. This alone could account for a gain on Bing’s side of things. Lets also consider that Google has been shifting algorithms around and any savvy site owner/SEO would be wise to compare Bing results to the changing Google results. Again, Google is driving the trend, Bing’s been winning by default.
Finally, the end of January also saw the end of Yahoo Site Explorer. This meant that people wishing to gather info would either have to turn to another source, or run some searches of their own and manually pull all the data together. Google’s an ace at swatting automated attempts to grab data, so if I was pulling this data, I’d go over to Bing for it.
These are all factors "that I can see" and certainly in no way reflects all the factors at play, but clearly gives some better explanation for the 21 percent increase considering the unquestionable preference of core users with Google.
The next figure I want to talk about is the "Success Rate" statistics. Google has worked very hard to provide a results page that has the answer. Remember me saying I was a nerd? Well I play a nerd-approved video game called Minecraft, and last weekend I needed to know the decimal data value for an egg (I had to make a cake). By typing in a rough longtail search into Google I got the data value without even leaving the results page.
Bing tries to get the same result but it’s not nearly as consistent at getting the right answer at the top of the SERPs. What about when I ask Google to handle some metric to imperial conversions or do some math for me? Am I making Bing more successful? When the answer you need is on the results page and you don’t need to click anything, that’s a real "Success".
Experian seems to have really great statistics and I love pouring over the data they share, but take everything with a grain of salt. This is the same company that lists websites as the top search terms for 2 years running. Who the heck wants to know that? Pull all the site names out of the list, now it’s interesting.
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 9:54 pm