Ash Nallawalla's blog

Does Bing Search know Bing?

While doing my tests on Bing Local Search for IYPs, I noticed something odd. I was reading up on the Microsoft Bing onebox – the panel of eight local results and a map you get at the top of the SERP when you search for something including a place name. e.g. “Denver florist”.

First, I cleared all cookies and did not log in to either search engine.

I searched for “bing onebox” (in Bing) and was taken aback. Of the first 10 results, eight were about the great actor/singer Bing Crosby and two were about the search engine. For comparison, the same search in Google produced nine results about the search engine and one about Bing Crosby. Who’s right?

The Bing algorithm associated the individual words in “onebox” with “the number one box office draw” (a phrase repeated by many of the eight sites) and hence this result. So, Bing has stemming covered. As search marketers we tend to think of Google’s ten-pack as the only onebox (or one box) of consequence.

Let’s try searching for just “Bing”. The best match result is the search engine itself. The News results are also about the search engine. The next four results are interesting:

  • Bing Crosby’s Wikipedia entry
  • Bing energy drink
  • Bing SDK for iPhone
  • Bing Mail (an Australian product since 2001)

Then three results from Discover Bing; three from the Bing product guide; three from the Bing Cashback program; and finally, four video results, with two about the search engine.

Using Google for the same search term (“bing”), the results are similar:

  • The first two are the Bing search engine.
  • The next two are Wikipedia of which the first is the search engine; the next about Crosby.
  • The News results are all about the search engine.
  • The last five results are also about the search engine, as are the two video results.
  • Curiously, the related searches are weird, but there’s an algorithm for you:
    • bingo
    • steve bing
    • bing bandwidth
    • bing linux
    • bing cosby
    • ding
    • bing network
    • ning

My conclusion is that Google’s algo associates the word “Bing” primarily with the search engine, which is bad news for the energy drink and mail company. Microsoft Bing’s algo is kinder to the searcher. Its architects are making an allowance that Internet users still include people who know of Bing Crosby and of other concepts that include this word. I think this is a good thing.

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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