New internet search engines come and go so often that I don’t usually even bother to look at them.
Usually they fail because they do not return relevant usable results. Returning sites clearly related to the search terms entered has been Google’s greatest strength.
Yahoo was for too long compromised by the fact that you had to pay to be listed. That was fine for Yahoo, but meant that many sites useful to searchers could not be found.
That changed, but by the time it did, Google had already established a lead that was too hard to make up.
Another thing Google did well was to make a clear distinction between organic search results and paid search results. Again, this helped users/searchers, so they kept coming back.
But there have been two new entries over the last month which are worth considering.
The first is Wolfram Alpha.
This is not a general search engine. It returns information, not links. But what it does, it does very well. It’s never heard of me, but generally, if you need factual information, or information which can be calculated, Wolfram Alpha is a good place to start. It also has a sense of humour.
The other major newcomer is Microsoft’s Bing.
Microsoft Live Search was always hopeless. I don’t know why, but it just never seemed to return results which were useful.
Bing does a much better job. It is quick to load, pleasant to look at, and clean – that is, the screen is not jumbled up with a whole lot of useless junk about the latest nude pics of Britney Spears, or why the world is falling apart because of misbehaviour by Australian footballers.
Most importantly, Bing returns relevant and useful results.
My impression is that Google gives more weight to blogs (John Ray agrees), or certainly that Google visits frequently updated sites more often. Perhaps this is because there doesn’t (yet) seem to be any way to send a blog ping to bing. There is a form you can use to submit your site to Bing if it does not appear in their results, and this form might also work as a ping, though I am just guessing about that.
From my brief experiments, it also seems to me that Google gives more weight to incoming links than Bing, while Bing gives more weight to page content. Both methods are reasonable. Google’s will return longer standing, popular results. Bing’s will return sites where the content matches the search terms more closely.
I like Bing. It seems to return more results that relate closely to what I was looking for.
However, for now, Google will stay as my home page.
I couldn’t get maps on Bing to work. But my major reason for staying with Google is that I search for news more than anything else. When you hit the ‘news’ button on Google without entering any search terms, it returns a wide variety of news stories from a wide variety of sources, in a well organised way. Bing returns nothing. This is a major shortcoming, one I hope will be fixed soon.
Results for search term ‘leading conservative blog’ (without quote marks).
Google: Qohel is first page, third place.
Yahoo: Qohel is first page, first place.
Bing: Qohel is first page, first place.