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Is Bing becoming a serious rival for Google?

search engine

Is Bing becoming a serious rival for Google?

Google has become so synonymous with internet searches that we often use the word as a verb (though Google would rather we didn’t), but there are signs that its Microsoft-owned competitor is gaining ground on the California search king.

NetImperative.com reports that new figures from media measurement company comScore show more than one in four (25.1%) UK searches from a PC are now performed with Bing, and that this shows the search engine to be growing.

Love it or hate it?

Bing tends to be the search engine equivalent of Marmite, with the internet littered with examples of people forcefully arguing for or against its use.

Advocates like PCWorld.com Senior Editor Mark Hachman argue that there’s not a lot to choose between the two big search engines when it comes to general searches, but that Bing trumps Google when it comes to image and video search.

Other experts can’t stand Bing. It’s often unpopular among marketers and developers for its erratic behaviour, and Bing Maps is frequently criticised when compared to its sophisticated Google equivalent.

Why the swing to Bing?

Despite the mixed reception Bing tends to get in the industry, search statistics are shifting in its favour, so what is it that the search engine is doing right?

Part of the reason is no doubt that many people will use the default search engine according to their device or operating system. The most obvious example of this is users of Microsoft-owned Internet Explorer, but it doesn’t end there. Up until just last week, Apple defaulted to Bing for the search results performed by its voice activated Siri service, but it has confirmed that it has now made the switch to Google.

Some of the negative publicity associated with Google’s tax contributions may turn some people of using it, perhaps favouring the Bing-powered and environmentally conscious Ecosia instead. Also, as everyone loves a freebie, the June introduction of Microsoft Rewards in the UK can’t have hurt its popularity.

Can Bing ever catch Google?

Google is still the overwhelming leader in the search engine stakes, with some statistics from this year saying it boasts more than three quarters of the market share, so Bing appears to have some way to go yet.

Perhaps the biggest challenge Bing faces, and this is a personal opinion, is its inseparable association with Microsoft. From attending conferences like SAScon, I’ve noticed that the very mention of Microsoft – and by extension Bing and Internet Explorer – tends to elicit groans and sneers. It remains to be seen whether that will change in the future to the point where Microsoft has to ask us to stop ‘Binging’ our search terms.

John Murray

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