Ten years ago, you basically had one choice for search: Google. They were simply light years ahead.
But that was ten years ago and search has evolved. Search has moved from simply finding general information on the web to a contextual, rich experience. And just as the nature of search has changed, so have the providers. While many people still use Google, for many, it is simply a habit: Google is what they started using ten years ago and many people haven’t taken the time to see what else is out there.
Which is why the following fact will surprise many people: in a recent blind study, using the UK’s most popular web searches, people preferred Bing web search results to Google’s.
What do you mean when you say people preferred Bing results?
The study has a fairly simple design; think of it like a blind taste test. During the test, Bing and Google web search results were shown side-by-side on one page, with all the branding removed so that users were ‘blind’ to what search engine the results came from. To keep it an apples-to-apples comparison of just the algorithmic web search results, any ads or other features were also removed.
Participants were each asked to do 10 searches, drawn from a list of 450 from the Google UK Zeitgeist 2012 list and a Google trends list from June 2013. This way, we could test searches that most people were likely to have heard of (because they are popular).
For each search, the participant was asked which set of results was the best – “left side search engine”, “right side search engine”, or “draw” (which meant the participant was undecided between the two sets of search results). After each participant finished their searches, their choices were totaled to determine which search engine’s web search results were preferred: Bing, Google, or a draw (undecided).
To make sure that we couldn’t influence the results of the study, it was conducted by an independent research company, Answers Research. They used a random survey panel of 1,000 Britons, aged 18 and older, and to make sure they were all reasonably familiar with how to use search, they all were required to have used a major search engine in the past month. Participants were not aware that Bing commissioned the study but were aware they were seeing search results from two unnamed search engines.
Enough with the setup; did Bing actually win?
Yes. Despite having used Google’s own top queries, after carrying out 10 searches, 53% of people surveyed picked Bing search results more often, 34% of people picked Google results more often, and 13% of people chose Bing and Google results an equal number of times.
For the stats geeks, the margin of error is +/- 3% at a 95% confidence level.
Even when you compare it by query, Bing was preferred more often. Out of 10,000 searches carried out, Bing search results were chosen 39% of the time, whilst Google results were chosen 32% of the time and 29% of searches were draws.
Nice. But I still think I prefer Google. What say you?
We say: Bing it on! No, seriously: BingItOn.com. A website we created with a simple purpose: to let you find out for yourself which search engine’s results you prefer. You do five search queries and get to compare Bing and Google results, with the branding stripped off, side-by-side. For each result, you choose a winner or declare it a draw. Then, you get a summary telling you which search engine’s results you preferred.
34% of people picked Google in our study and you may be part of that minority. But given that most Britons actually preferred Bing results, there is a pretty good chance that you might be better served by using Bing as your main search engine. Isn’t it time to find out for yourself? Ding ding; it’s time to BingItOn.com.
– The Bing Team