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Bing vs. Google: SEO and Search Algorithms

Whenever discussing search engines, there is always the millennia-old debate of which is best and why. From Google and Bing, to Yahoo and (for brave souls) DuckDuckGo, the web is accessible through a countless number of engines, some arguably worse than others. However, what defines a search engine? What aspects of it’s design make it better or worse than its competition? I believe there are two major aspects of search engine design and likability: its visual appeal (how the results are formatted and displayed) and its results. I would like to focus on the results characteristic, as design is mostly a secondary feature to usability (albeit still important), and compare the two major search engines Google and Bing. I will be referencing a number of articles, including “The Role of Content Quality in Bing Ranking” (Michael Basilyan), “Study: Many Searchers Choose Google Over Bing Even When Google’s Name Is On Bing’s Results” (Amy Gesenhues), and “Difference Between Google’s and Bing’s Algorithm” (Jourdan Rombough).

Google was started in 1998 by Larry Page, Sergey Brin while Bing was established in 2009 as a successor to Microsoft’s MSN Search, Windows Live Search and later Live Search. According to NETMARKETSHARE.COM[i], Google current holds a share of 73.02% of all desktop search engine users, while Bing holds a share of only 9.26%.  Is this enormous gap in user preference due to search results or is another factor to blame?

In 2014, Michael Basilyan, a senior program manager at Bing, claims that “content quality” is one of the primary focuses of the search engine’s page ranking process[ii]. Bing takes into account three qualities in it’s ranking calculation: a website’s topical relevance, the context, and the content quality. Topical relevance asks how related to the query is a website page, in other words ““Does it address the query?” Context analyzes specific and historical information about the user and the query, such as whether the query might be about a recent popular topic, what the user’s physical location is, the user’s search history, etc. Lastly, and most importantly, content quality investigates three important questions: “Can we trust this content?”, “Is the content useful and sufficiently detailed?”,  and“Is the content well-presented and easy to find?”.  While these are not the only factors Bing takes into account within its page ranking system, they are what Bing states as the most significant.

With Google, on the other hand, it’s hard to focus on simply a few primary ranking factors. With over 200+ ranking factors, Google SEO consultants might name the most important factors in the ranking algorithm as keyword usage, site structure, site speed, time spent on site, number of inbound links, and quality of inbound links[iii]. Pretty evidently, Google and Bing use many of the same page ranking factors, but the differences in how they use them is what distinguishes the two competitors.

While the difference between Bing and Google are not drastic, there are some features worth noting. While Google’s search algorithm excels at matching queries and results with synonyms and relevant words, Bing requires more exact keyword matching to acquire accurate search results. Moreover, in page ranking, Bing tends to prioritize pages that are relevant to recent events. For example, when searching “Taj Mahal” in Google and Bing, the first link on Google is the official Indian Taj Mahal tourism site while Bing displays news articles first; the “Trump Taj Mahal” preceded the ranking of the official tourism page because of the recent closure of Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino. However, Bing does trump Google in one important aspect, if a website contains Flash content, it is much more likely to rank higher on Bing than Google. Google’s algorithm tends to always rank sites with flash lower than its counterparts because of difficulty in linking to a single page. Lastly, unlike Google, Bing tends to consider more a website’s domain age and has a partiality towards .edu and .gov domains. Rather, Google puts greater emphasis on page authority (discussed in class) and favors sites with many inbound links, especially if those links are from authoritative sites (sites with a lot of inbound links themselves). [iv]

In studying the algorithms and page results of the two search engines, Bing and Google differed only slightly in the results they displayed. Does this mean that something other than the algorithms behind SEO searches are accounting for disparities in overall engine likability? In a study by Search Engine Land[v], a study conducted through SurveyMonkey found that most consumers will prefer search results labeled as from “Google,” even if the results were actually produced by Bing. When no brand label was placed on the results, participants chose the Google results 57% of the time and Bing 43% of the time, a percentage significantly smaller than the current market share for the two search engines.

Ultimately, I believe it comes down to a mix of individual preferences and brand bias. Despite Bing’s recent improvements in it’s search algorithms to the point where it is difficult to distinguish the page results of Bing and Google, Google has a become a household name that is well-respected and, for the majority of searches, accurate in it’s results and the relevancy of its page rankings.

Resources

[i] “Search Engine Market Share.” Net Market Share. Net Applications.com, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

[ii] Basilyan, Michael. “The Role of Content Quality in Bing Ranking.” Bing Blogs. Microsoft, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

[iii] Walters, By Mark. “How Does Google Rank Websites?” SEOmark. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. <http://www.seomark.co.uk/how-does-google-rank-websites/>.

[iv] Rombough, Jourdan. “Difference Between the Google and Bing Algorithm.”Optimization Theory SEO            Resource Blog. Optimization Theory, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. <http://www.optimizationtheory.com/difference-in-google-and-bings-algorithm/>.

[v] Gesenhues, Amy. “Study: Many Searchers Choose Google Over Bing Even When Google’s Name Is On Bing’s Results.” Search Engine Land. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Comments

One Response to “ Bing vs. Google: SEO and Search Algorithms ”

  • TheMarketingVibe.com

    Google’s algorithm is definitely much more developed than Yahoo’s, Bing’s or even Yandex’s . They have really nailed the anti-spam algorithm that they have in place, alongside the addition of the Google Sandbox which also filters out website’s that have spammed their backlink profile.

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