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Bing vs. Google--a comparison for PR professionals
25th Jun 2009 | Posted by Francesco Paciocco
After reading a New York Post article on the emerging rivalry between Google and Bing, I’m glad to say my interest in Bing has certainly grown. The two have been fiercely pitted against one another to determine which engine is the most sophisticated, the most user-friendly, and most viable in today’s ever-changing sea of online content. In addition, bloggers have taken to comparing Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results using Blind Search, a nifty tool that allows you to gauge the effectiveness of each search engine’s results, asking you to choose the results you prefer, then revealing the search engine used.
PR pros utilize a wide range of search tools to track coverage and conversations, so I was curious about what benefits Bing might bring to the table. Let’s take a look at how both Google and Bing function from the standpoint of a public relations professional:
Interface / Usability
• As we all know, Google’s interface is the perfect marriage of minimalism and functionality. Google News, Blog, and Archive searching have been around for quite some time and updates continue to flood in making each service responsive and capable of indexing current information. The simple, no frills layout of Google’s applications is what lends itself to their everyday usability. Also, marketers love Google’s suite of free analytics tools such as Insights for Search and Trends that present detailed information into targeted searches across the world. No complaints here.
• Bing, on the other hand, adds several new features to the standard search interface such as video thumbnail previewing in video search, as well as the ability to greatly specify image results by faces, colors, and resolution—definitely slick add-ins compared to what we’re used to with Google, but nothing incredibly groundbreaking in my point of view.
• In the spectrum of alerts and RSS (indispensible for PR pros), both are available with Google and Bing, the only apparent difference with the two being Bing’s requirement of a Windows Live ID to receive alerts vs. Google’s flexibility of using any email account. For tracking on-the-go, users will be happy to know Bing soon plans to launch its mobile client which will include most of what we’re familiar with from Google such as maps, voice recognition, and location based searching—who knows, maybe even a few more surprises as the software is still in development.
• Google has really outdone itself with added features to its news searching, most recently culminating with the Timeline feature which graphically displays news coverage. This can be especially useful for clients who wish to get a quick understanding of their online reputation through online news without spending too much time scrolling through headlines.
• On Bing’s side of the fence, I like its Category setting that allows the user to specify which industry the results come from—when searching for “Dell”, I was given business and “sci/tech” sources while for “GlaxoSmithKline” I was provided with health sources.
• For a great analysis on news search results comparing Google and Bing side-by side, check out Search Engine Land’s excellent post on the topic; for a real-time look into the results, have a look at Bingle, a mashup comparing Google’s and Bing’s search results in the same web browser window.
• Google’s Blog Search is very functional although it has been mildly criticized for inaccuracies and its speed of indexing new posts. I continue to use it but wish Google would adopt a metric similar to Technorati’s Authority which measures the number of other blogs linking in over the last 6 months.
• Bing has attempted such a metric, appearing as a “Top Blogs” setting under news search however it leaves much to be desired as the results produce mostly spam blogs; there’s also no tangible way to understand why Bing classifies its “Top Blogs” as “Top.” In addition to the lack of blog searching functionality that we’ve grown accustomed to with Google and Technorati, the option to sort blog results by date has not yet been implemented, the results reverting back to standard news results when clicking “Most recent.”
• Google’s set of analytics tools is much like a Swiss army knife for the public relations professional, including such heavyweights as Insights for Search, Trends, and the Analytics suite for measuring website traffic, all of which making for a formidable arsenal to gather client and competitive insights.
• Bing is less robust in this space but its Google Trends-like offering xRank shows tremendous potential. It aims to provide rising search trends as well as drivers of search results change. I especially like the feature dubbed “xTreme Movers”, which attempts to pinpoint which search-related content is driving traffic.
So does Bing have any advantages over Google for PR professionals?—not quite yet, but Google definitely has a rabbit on its tail. All in all, I’m a fan of Bing. I love the slick interface, the options and presentation I get when searching for multimedia, and most of all, the effort. But let’s not forget that stepping up to the plate to take on Google as the world’s preferred search engine is an enormous undertaking, especially considering the immediate jargon of “Google it” when talking about searching online. Perhaps Bing will manage to carve a niche for itself like Cuil (claims to have the largest index) and most recently, Wolfram Alpha (focused on factual queries) have done. As for me, it will be awhile before any “decision engine” changes my everyday professional reliance on the Mountain View camp.