Searches made through Microsoft Bing more frequently lead to a Web site visit by the user than searches made on Google, according to data released Tuesday by market watcher Experian Hitwise.
Bing users clicked on a search result 81.54% of the time for queries made in January, compared to 65.58% of the time for Google users, reflecting the fact that Bing, according to Hitwise, was considerably more likely to yield a result relevant to users' queries.
"The share of unsuccessful searches highlights the opportunity for both the search engines and marketers to evaluate the search engine results pages to ensure that searchers are finding relevant information," said Hitwise officials, in a statement.
Hitwise also found that Bing is gaining on Google in terms of market share, thanks in large part to a deal under which Yahoo outsourced search on its pages to Microsoft in exchange for cash. "Bing-powered" searches accounted for 27.44% of all U.S. searches in January, up 6% from the previous month. Google's share fell 2% over the same period, to 67.95%.
The results are sure to fuel the increasing rancor between Microsoft and Google, which has accused its rival of copying its search results.
The tiff began last week after the blog Search Engine Land published a story that quoted Google Fellow Amit Singhal, who said Google created a "honey pot" to catch Bing's alleged cheating. Google engineers manually inflated the rankings of certain pages for several highly obscure search terms. They claimed Bing's ranking of those pages also shot up shortly after they began their experiment—proving, they insisted, that Bing was copying Google.
"I've spent my career in pursuit of a good search engine," Singhal told Search Engine Land. "I've got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation, in my book," said Singhal.
But Microsoft search chief Yusuf Mehdi, in a blog post, said Google's "trap" was flawed, because Google itself caused Bing to take more notice of the baited pages by artificially inflating their popularity with Web users, the majority of whom access the Internet through Explorer. Mehdi noted that Microsoft anonymously tracks where Explorer users are going on the Web.
Mehdi said Google is simply worried about improvements that Microsoft rolled out to Bing last year. Among other things, Bing gained direct integration with Facebook, OpenTable, and geo-location service Foursquare. It's also, if Hitwise's data is correct, more accurate than Google.