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Search engines – where would we be without them?
It would be pretty difficult to get around the Web and find what needs to be found without those trusty little crawlers. Grizzled Internet veterans like me still remember the days of HotBot, Alta Vista, Lycos, and Ask Jeeves. Even before that, I have vague recollection of using AOL’s self-contained Prodigy service for homework assignments.
But these days, our choice really just boils down to the two heavyweights, Google and Bing. And Bing has recently made a heavy marketing push with its Bing It On campaign, which invites a side-by side comparison of the two search engines.
So all of this raises the question: which one is really better? I decided to take a good look and find out.
Fan Favoritism: A Disclaimer
Full disclosure — I’m probably what most people would consider a Google “fangirl.” I own an Android phone and not one but two Android tablets. Heck, I’m even writing this on my trusty $200 Chromebook. But before the rise of Google, I was wholly a Windows user.
Looking back to the 90s and the early 2000s, it’s actually a little funny to see think about how much Microsoft and its entourage of IBM-clone machines dominated my life. During this period, I remember sitting down at a Mac and being completely aghast at how different the user experience was. By contrast, I made a really seamless transition to a life of Google; I did this without even consciously realizing I was making such a change.
So what’s my point? It’s simply to say that the two companies are vying for the same marketshare, possibly even more so than either one is really competing with Apple users. My experience likely mirrors that of many other long-time Windows users.
At any rate, I’d also like to add a quick note about my methodology before diving into my experiences. To make this comparison fair, I plugged my search terms directly into both search engines. And just for fun, I also plugged them into BingItOn.com.
Google Shines in Synchronization, Convenience, and Grammar
As we all know, Google’s share of the search marketplace is one that’s well-storied and richly deserved. Their algorithms are constantly being refined, presumably to deliver better and more individualized results.
On the other hand, I (like many other users) have some privacy concerns when it comes to how this company is monetizing my information. I’m also a little skeptical about how they are pushing to have users “sign in” to get more personalized search results. In any case, here are a few observations from my Google user experience:
- Speed: Google claims their results are still the fastest in the industry, whether you connect through your phone’s 4G or through ClearwireInternet.com’s
quality connection. For my own part, though, I didn’t notice any appreciable difference. There is, perhaps, a microsecond of difference between the two at best.
- Synchronization: Being an owner of many Google-oriented devices and a user of Chrome on multiple machines, I did notice that many of the features integrate quite nicely. Of course, this also goes along with the aforementioned “sign in” option, of which I’m still skeptical.
- Search Results: Google results tend to be very skewed toward consumer review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon. For example, when doing a search for “where to eat in Roswell, Georgia,” both of those sites popped up in the top two positions in my Google SERPs. While I often find crowd-sourced sites to be helpful, I’ve used them enough to know they’re a mixed bag.
- Spell-checker: Google’s search box has a built-in spell-checker, and those squiggly red lines are perfect for people with bad typing skills and often-poor grammar such as myself.
Bing Has a Great Layout, Competitive Results, and Entices Undecided Users
Bing is making headway, even with avid Google lovers. It’s hard to change to a new platform, once you have used something for so long. However, even with that, Bing is making the effort, and succeeding in a lot of ways.
- Social Integration: Many have argued that Bing does social integration much more successfully. A search for “Atlanta Falcons” yields a third column with “Social results” that show some results from Facebook. Google, by contrast, only references social results from its own social network, Google+, and these are listed in the SERPs. Bing has a clear advantage in this arena; however, BingItOn.com ironically doesn’t show this in its results.
- Search Results: Unlike Google, the results for “where to eat in Roswell, Georgia” came up with fewer crowd-sourced review sites, although Yelp appears far down the results. Instead, the top SERP is for the Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Google or Bing: Which is the Best Search Engine?
So, with all of this, which is the better search engine?
It still really seems to come down to personal preference. Personally, I don’t think I’ll be switching to Bing anytime soon — if for no other reason than the fact that Google is comfortable, and because I’m so heavily invested in Google devices.
On the other hand, Bing is probably the first real contender to the Google crown. I would imagine that some people with similar privacy concerns as my own would be tempted to use Bing instead, especially given the fact that it’s so visually compelling.
So what do you look for in the perfect search engine?
Emily Green is a freelance writer with more than six years’ experience in blogging, copywriting, content, SEO, and dissertation, technical and thesis writing.
photo credit: michperu
I got my first computer in 1986 and immediately started writing, saving documents, and organizing my entire life on it. Thus began my love affair with gadgets and all things tech. I built my first website in 1998 in old-school HTML code — before websites were "a thing". Blogs weren't invented yet. It was the same year that Google was born. My husband and I created TheFunTimesGuide.com in 2004 — before YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and Mashable were launched. That was the year Facebook started and 'blog' was the Word of the Year according Merriam-Webster. Ever since then, anytime a new electronic gadget hits the market… I have to have it. (My husband's impulsive nature to try out every new tech gadget invented is even worse than mine!) When I'm not trying out fun new tech gadgets, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).