Bing Announces Services It Hopes Will Challenge Google

by James Barry from Wolf21

I’m already prejudiced as a writer who makes his living crafting words, but my theory of why Bing is likely to fare somewhat better in taking on Google than Yahoo! has is simply in its choice of brand name. (That is, if they do not lose their focus on the basics of the search business.) Google as a verb has become part of the lexicon because of the flexibility of its brand name as well as the relevancy of the search results it provides.

You can ‘bing’ a search term or ‘google’ it, but it doesn’t make sense to ‘Yahoo!’ thermally-challenged penguins, or whatever your search term may be. If I found something terribly interesting during one of the infrequent searches I conduct on Yahoo! and wanted to tell a friend about it, I think I would be tempted to tell her, “Google ‘chocolate-frosted sugar bomb cereals’ on Yahoo!”

And then there’s the ubiquitous challenge of writing about Yahoo! because it has a punctuation mark in its name which always seems to present me with a grammatical challenge. (In the sentence I just wrote, I would normally have put a comma after ‘Yahoo!,’ if it were not for the search engine’s annoying exclamation mark. (See, there it goes again. Can’t you feel my pain here?)

eWeeks – another grammatical head-scratcher when you want to start a sentence referring to a tech company with a lower-case letter fronting its brand– reports that Microsoft has updated Bing with new mobile social and maps features to continue its run at Google’s market share atop the not-so-competitive search industry.  These features, along with the viability of its brand, may help Bing in waging battle with the ‘Googlocracy’ for search engine supremacy.

On December 15, Microsoft (which owns Bing) announced some tweaks to the search engine it is boosting in order to challenge Google’s dominance of online advertising and the worldwide search market. The updates Microsoft announced “include new features for its Bing for Mobile app for iPhone and Android, notably integration of OpenTable and Grubhub. Microsoft is also promising street-level imagery, real-time public transit info, and “check in” functionality,” according to eWeeks.

I haven’t checked out the mobile apps yet, but there doesn’t seem to be much difference in what is accessible through Bing’s main search page. These must be amongst the “promised” features, many of which will be only available in the U.S. one presumes.

comScore (again with the lower case company name!) reports an 11.8 percent market share for Bing, according to eWeeks, which is solid enough until compared to Google’s 66.2 percent slice. This is “still good for a year-over-year increase of 31 percent,” for Bing, notes eWeeks, and it ”might hearten Microsoft executives, who have burned millions of dollars in losses in order for the company to establish a toehold in that market.” (How do you spell MSN? C’mon guys!)

Yet, I have my doubts. “The core of our work addresses the fact that the Web is getting more complex and faceted—not less,” Bing’s Senior VP of Online Services wrote in Bing’s Community blog. However, she also observes that, “(t)his evolution challenges us and the industry to more thoughtfully define search quality as more than just speed or how well we’ve matched links to your query.”

Call me old-fashioned – as you can tell from my grammatical rants – but aren’t ‘speed’ and the ‘relevancy’ of search results the sine qua non of a search engine? Search engine optimziation is all about ensuring sure your web site and pages are the most relevant results available on Google. If it takes me longer to find less relevant results, irrespective of whether my search is mobile or from my notebook, I am not going to be impressed with the features of the search engine, no matter how cool it may look or work in theory.

You don’t “AltaVista” ‘nun beating,’ ‘Bloom County’ or whatever your predilection may be, exactly because Google produced better, more relevant search results faster than the search engine darling of the early ‘90s did.

When all is said and done, it all comes down to the algorithm; and Bing, like any other challenger – irrespective of its features, most of which Google has or will readily develop – must compete there before we will see the conjugations of the verb “to bing,” in Webster’s, or any other non-Microsoft dictionary.

If you don’t believe me, ‘google’ AltaVista on Bing to see what happens to search engines that can’t compete with the relevancy of the results offered by the ‘Sultans of Search.’

James Barry covers internet marketing and related topics for Wolf21.com, a Toronto-based firm offering a full line of SEO services.