Wednesday 10 Jun 2009
Tonight, I spent a little time on Microsoft’s new search engine (or as they call it, decision engine), Bing. For the past couple of weeks, industry news has been spangled with discussions about whether Bing has the power to give Google a run for their money and Greg Sterling has even pointed out some compelling reasons why big Google might not mind little Bing having a bit of success. I’ve read a handful of the articles that have been making the rounds, but my own interest is more geared to how Bing is handling local-type queries. Here are a few things I’ve noticed.
– Bing’s 10-Pack is an 8 Pack. I wonder why they chose to show 8 results instead of 10. Maybe just trying to be a little different.
– Bing appears to be following Google’s lead in regards to IP targeting non-geographically-modified searches. In other words, if I do a search for ‘Chinese restaurant’, Bing is showing me local businesses.
– I did a bunch of searches in Bing’s Organic and Maps results and it appears that all Ratings are being pulled from just 3 sources: Judysbook, CitySearch and Yelp. I like the fact that Bing is transparent about that.
– In addition to pulling all of the ratings from those three sources, it appears that Bing is only showing reviews from those sources, too. This makes their review portfolio much less diverse than Google’s, but they are doing something else of interest:
Bing is giving local searchers the option to click on information snippets from further outside sources such as Frommers and Dine.com. That’s an interesting approach.
– Now here’s the part where I’m seeing something pretty nifty and un-Google-like. Look at this review score card with the option to see reviews that pertain to specific qualities of a business, in this case, a hotel:
Mike Blumenthal was recently explaining to me his theories on how the use of adjectives in reviews may affect Location Prominence. Google appears to be taking descriptive words from user reviews and utilizing them to present results for searches that are refined with adjectives (clean hotel, dirty restaurant, helpful therapist, etc.)
Bing is taking a somewhat different, yet reminiscent, approach to anticipating users’ more refined needs by presenting them with scores on the types of data they might want to know (cleanliness, atmosphere, quality of stay, etc.) I like the care for the user’s needs that is apparent in this score card.
– Bing is offering a Report Abuse link with their reviews, but I was not seeing any easy way for a community-type edit as is featured in Google’s wiki-like Maps. I came across a local restaurant with an incorrectly listed business title, but I saw no way to edit it. If I missed it, Bing needs to make it more obvious.
Will Bing Best Google In the Local Game?
I doubt it. Not any time soon. I like much of what I see them doing after my first real sit-down experience using Bing to search for local businesses, but I’ve got the Google habit so deeply ingrained in my blood now, I can’t really picture myself choosing to use Bing over Google for this type of search. I can only come to the conclusion that I’m hypocritical sometimes. I am uncomfortable with Google’s massive power and I strongly believe competition is healthy, but my conscience isn’t urging me to storm out of Google’s domain and give my support elsewhere. Not while Google matters most to my clients. Not while the services offered elsewhere remain equal to or less than.
Has anyone else turned up anything interesting about how Bing is handling Local? I’d like to know what you’ve seen.