Going Head-to-Head - And Why Online Searching Has Changed Forever

We all like a good head-to-head challenge: Blur v Oasis, TOWIE v Made in Chelsea, Jay Z v Kanye, Rocky v Apollo Creed… Even better when it’s difficult to make a call on who’ll come out on top – although that’s often ‘cos we don’t actually know how the rivals have been faring in the run-up to the challenge.

Which is why we are really rather delighted to announce that a new ‘blind taste test’ study has revealed that Brits prefer Bing web search results to Google’s. For the SECOND YEAR RUNNING.

Of course it all used to be very different: 10 years ago, you had just the one choice for search. Google. They were, quite simply, light years ahead.

But that was then, and search has evolved – it’s moved on 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.

Which is why our claim may surprise many. But it’s true: for the second year, in blind tests comparing the UK’s most popular web searches, more people chose us.

Er, what do you mean when you say ‘people preferred Bing results’?

The study has a fairly simple design – think of it like the classic fizzy-pop blind taste-test. During the test, Bing and Google web search results were shown side-by-side on one page, with all 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.

This year participants were each asked to do 10 searches, drawn from a list of 450 from the Google UK Zeitgeist 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 added up 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 independent research firm Answers Research, who used a random survey panel of 1,000 adult Brits – and to make sure they were all reasonably familiar with how to use search, participants were all required to have used a ‘major search engine’ in the past month. They weren’t aware that Bing commissioned the study but wereaware they were seeing search results from two unnamed search engines.

Enough with the setup – did Bing actually win again?

Oh yes. Despite having used Google’s own top queries, after carrying out 10 searches, 46% of people surveyed picked Bing search results more often, 37% of people picked Google results more often, and 17%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 37% of the time, whilst Google results were chosen 35% of the time and 28% of searches were draws.

Nice. But I still think I prefer Google. What say you?

We say Bing it on. No, seriously: BingItOn.com. It’s a website we created with a simple purpose – to let you find out for yourself which search engine’s results you prefer. You get to do five search queries and then 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.

Still 8

37% of people picked Google results more often in our study and you may be part of that minority. But given that most Brits actually preferred Bing results, there’s a pretty good chance you might be better served by using Bing as your main search engine.

So, isn’t it time to find out for yourself? Go on, do something new today, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

The Bing Team


To find out more about the first results, go here.

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