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Bing Beats Google On Search Effectiveness

Microsoft's "decision engine" more likely to lead users to a Web page than searches through rival Google, study finds.
Office 365 Vs. Google Apps: Top 10 Enterprise Concerns
Office 365 Vs. Google Apps: Top 10 Enterprise Concerns
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While Google may control the lion's share of the search market, queries made through Microsoft's Bing search engine lead users to click on a Web page at a significantly higher rate than queries made through Google, according to data released Thursday.

The success rate for Bing searches in the U.S. in July was 80.04%, compared to 67.56% for Google, according to Experian Hitwise. The market watcher defines "success rate" as the percentage of search queries that result in a visit to a website. Searches made through sites owned by Yahoo, which farmed out search to Bing under a deal struck in 2009, were also more efficient than Google. Those searches yielded a success rate of 81.36%.

Experian officials said the results show that there's room for both Google and Microsoft to step up their games when it comes to search accuracy. "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."

Search engine users could also probably help themselves a lot by formulating more precise queries. Experian's numbers show that the plurality of searches, 25.32%, are made with just a single word, followed by two-word and three-word queries, with shares of 24.09% and 19.49%, respectively.

The numbers could help Microsoft boost its revenue from online services, as they show marketers that keywords purchased on Bing-powered sites have a better click-through rate than those purchased on Google. Microsoft has taken a number of steps to boost the efficacy of Bing searches, including adding tools that allow users to book travel and entertainment with one or two clicks following the input of related terms such as, for instance, "San Francisco hotels." Microsoft also recently added real-time feeds from Facebook to its search results.

Microsoft's revenue for online services, including search, was up 16.5% in the most recent quarter, to $662 million.

While Redmond may have bragging rights when it comes to search efficiency, it still lags far behind Google in terms of search volume. Google's share of total U.S. search volume in July was 66.05%, down 2% from the previous month. Bing's share came in at 12.98%, down 2% from June. Yahoo search took a 15.07% share, up 4%, meaning that total "Bing-powered" search came in at 28.05%.

The data shows that Google clearly remains the dominant search engine, but Bing is gaining ground.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
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