The Bing Challenge: 31 Days of Google Free Search. Can It Be Done?by James Svoboda
March 1st, 2011
It’s been almost 2 years since Bing launched in June of 2009. Yea, I know. TWO YEARS. Like many other search engine marketers I waited… and waited… and waited… and continued to wait and wonder if Microsoft’s new engine was going to stick around, or if it was destined to fade away with the likes of Northern Light, Excite, Infoseek, DirectHit and countless others that ended up in the Searching Graveyard.
Well. It’s still here. And it’s bigger than ever.
Recent surveys suggest that Bing powered searches have grown to almost 30% of the total U.S. search market. That is a larger audience than any other search engine has had, in what, 5 years? This is due in large part to the completion of their Search Alliance with Yahoo and the fact Microsoft is a marketing machine. And even though PPC search traffic from the Binghoo merger is currently only coming in at 70% of combined pre-Alliance traffic levels, search marketers now only have to manage a single AdCenter platform.
Bing Still Searching For Love
So I have to ask myself, and you, if Bing is now sizable enough to be considered a threat to Google, then why are there not more Search Marketers blogging and talking about Bing every day?
As I write this, at this exact moment, there are 14 articles featured on Search Engine Land’s homepage that either have Google in the post title or are based wholly on the engine. Bing only has 1 mention on the entire page and that one is shared with Google: “Writing HTML Title Tags For Humans, Google & Bing”.
Sphinn.com – 7 posts on the homepage with Google in the title, 0 with Bing.
Search Engine Journal – 3 for Google, 0 for Bing.
Search Engine Watch – 5 for Google, 0 for Bing.
It’s not just SEM bloggers. Search marketers in general will often make reference to “Google” and “Search Engines” in the exact context as if they are wholly one and the same. Happens all the time. It happened last week at the LocalU event in Portland. It happened again the day after at SEMpdx’s SearchFest. It’s been happening for a while.
“I get no respect, I tell ya” – R.D.
While many search professionals agree that the industry as a whole is better served by having two sizable search engines instead of just one, many of us are slow to change and hesitant to throw much weight behind #2. As a case in point, at the same time that Search Engine Land has a site-wide top navigation link for “Google & Search”, Bing’s only site-wide presence is through a 3rd party paid banner ad for the PPC Search-Alliance with Yahoo.
A Significant Search Share That Continues to Grow Means It’s Time To Give Bing More Consideration
Ever since Hitwise released their recent report stating that Bing.com’s search share grew by 21% from December 2010 to January 2011, I’ve been noticing how little I actually use them to search. Why? Are Google’s search tools so much better? Maybe not. Are their search engine results just that much better than Bing’s? Probably not if others are complaining about Search Spam and Content Farms. Not to mention that I’m getting tired of Duplicate Content, yea Duplicate Content, showing up in SERPs where articles are word for word the same except for different “Comments”.
Then why don’t I search Bing more?
My belief is that it’s partly habit based and partly because I, like many people, want to start a journey from the same place as often as possible. I try and start from someplace that is familiar to me, so that even if I don’t know exactly where I’m going, and even if I get lost along the way, I know where I’ve been and how to get back there. Back to the starting point. Back to where I started. Back to that homepage or search box.
You don’t have to look any further than the recent Gawker redesign to see that people like the familiar. And that people will strongly resist change.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Google does have superior search results and tools. Maybe those features are the reasons why I’ve Googled my way across the web with hardly a passing glance at another engine in years. Maybe.
It’s probably about time that I find out for sure.
I’m giving myself this challenge: “Search with Bing for the entire month of March”. If Microsoft’s search share is going to continue to grow, then it’s time to gain a deeper understanding of Engine #2. No more waiting and wondering, just searching Bing for all 31 days. And as much as I would have on Google.
The Rules & Guidelines
I have to have rules and guidelines for this challenge because I already know that it is almost impossible for me to go an entire month without doing a single search on Google.
Why? Clients. SEO and PPC clients. There might inevitability be a point where I’ll have to look up a SERP to manually see how and where a clients listings are displayed. What page or image is showing up and are Title and Description tags being truncated?. I’ll probably have to check a query to do Google specific competitor research. It’s almost a fact that I am going to need to check Pay Per Click ads to see how a client campaign is showing against others ad text. Are they triggering Sitelinks or the new extended titles that are pulled from description line 1?
There are so many reasons why I can easily be pulled back into Google. That’s why it’s going to be a challenge and why I need some Guidelines.
Challenge Rules & Guidelines
1. Every search must start at Bing or through a toolbar that leads to Bing.com.
2. No Personal searching on Google. Period.
3. No Business related searching on Google.
4. No Blog searching on Google.
5. Access to Google AdWords, Analytics, Voice, Places Accounts, Docs, HotPot, YouTube, Gmail, and so, can only be done through direct navigation, bookmarks, or referring URLs. No search.
Things I’m Going to Miss
I already know that there are going to be a few search tools that I’m going to have a hard time living without. It’s been somewhere in the ballpark of 8 or 9 years since I made the switch from Alta Vista and Yahoo to Google and it will be interesting to me to see which of these features will truly be missed.
Google Maps is going to be one that will be hard for me to live without. I really like their simple and clean maps, easy to use and customize driving directions with optional large and small maps. It’s also going to be to difficult to replace the Places search and Listings.
Google Blog Search – It looks like I’m going to have to find another blog engine since Bing doesn’t seem to have one:( At least I still get to use Sphinn.
Things I’m Going to Look For
Here are a few questions I am going to be looking for answers to:
- Is the quality of listings in Bing SERPs comparable, better or worse than Google?
- What noticeable usability factors make the SERPs different?
- Do I like the tools?
- What do I think of the different daily homepage?
- What about Image & Video search?
- Do I like the fact that the page content is left aligned instead of centered?
- Do I miss Instant or the site preview tool?
- How does Bing’s ability to geo-target searchers for Local & PPC compare to Google?
- Do I like the Related Searches or the Search History?
- Did I like the Web/News/Images/Video search tools better on the left or across the top?
- Which Bing feature did I like the best? The least?
- Which Google feature did I miss the most?
- How did Bing Maps and Local compare to Google Maps?
- How did Bing Local Listings compare to Google Places?
- How were the Pay-Per-Click Ads? Better or worse targeted? More or less intrusive?
- Does Bing consistently monetize considerably less of the SERP area than Google?
- What do I think about the News & Shopping search results?
My 31 Day Adventure in Bingland Starts… Now.
Today is the first day. All Bing, all day long. Can I even make it one day? Two? A whole week? A month seems impossible. But I’m going to try.
Take The Challenge & Spread The Word
Yea, I’m a Search Geek. If you are too, then you might want to take the challenge yourself or tell a friend.
Tweet > “Take The Bing Challenge”
Tweet that > “I’m Taking The Bing Challenge”
Daily Challenge Journal
I’m documenting my challenge in a day By day Challenge Journal. This post will catalog my experiences with Bing.com and what I learn about their site and search capabilities.
Day 1: Notable Spidering & Indexing Frequency Issues
Day 2: Bing’s Supplemental Index
Day 3: Bing Webmaster Tools
Day 4: Indexing Issues Resolved & New Indexation Test Started
Day 5: 3 Valuable Bing Webmaster Tools Features & Reports
Day 6: “Popular Now” Trending Search Features
Day 7: Bing’s More Info Box Search Listing Enhancements
Day 8: Bing’s “Narrow By Date” Search Tool
What do you think of the The Bing Challenge? Are you going to try? Feel free to leave a comment.
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