Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Analyst: Bing’s Nice, but Google Still Works Better–Unless You’re Booking a Trip or Have a Rash

bingAn endless ad barrage may be enough to get you to sample Bing. But it can’t ensure you’ll like the results once you try it.

That’s the conclusion Citigroup’s (C) Mark Mahaney reached after taking Microsoft’s (MSFT) new search engine for a spin and comparing it to Google’s (GOOG) and Yahoo’s (YHOO). The result: Google still delivers better results most of the time. In 71 percent of searches, Google either supplied the most relevant answer or tied with other engines. Bing did that 46 percent of the time.

But it’s worth checking out the results of Mahaney’s test to see exactly how the search engines stack up. For one thing, as he notes, Bing’s results are getting better as it matures–it’s only been live for about a month–and as it adds bells and whistles (for instance, it is catering to vanities of certain bloggers by including their Twitter stream in search results).

And Bing also performs better for at least two kinds of searches: Health and travel. So if you need to book a trip, or if you pick up a rash on that trip, you might want to think about Binging before you Google.

First, Mahaney’s methodology:

Over the past two weeks, we conducted 200 queries across the three major Search engines–Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Most of the queries we picked came from Google Zeitgeist, Microsoft’s xRank and Yahoo! Buzz, along with some personal queries. These queries spanned multiple categories, including Entertainment, Health, Local, News, Retail, Sports, Travel and Other. After conducting the same query across all three Search sites, we picked a winner based on: 1) relevancy of the organic search results; and 2) robustness of the search experience, which included factors such as image and video inclusion, Search Assist, and Site Breakout.

And his results. Overall relevancy (click to enlarge):


Relevancy by topic (click to enlarge):


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik