Voice Search: Bing vs Google

November 3, 2017

We all know that Microsoft’s Bing has struggled to compete with Google Search. Will voice search level the field? Search Engine Watch ponders, “How Does Bing’s Voice Search Compare to Google’s?” Writer Clark Boyd acknowledges it does not seem Bing will eclipse Google as a whole anytime soon, but points to Microsoft’s new partnership with Amazon’s Alexa as evidence of change. The article delves into specifics about Microsoft’s voice-search technology, mostly with details on Cortana but also citing the voice search now found in their Edge browser. It also examines the company’s apparent strategy, which involves that partnership with Amazon and integration into popular platforms like Spotify.

Boyd next examines specific differences between the companies’ voice searches. For example, he states Cortana is better at understanding his Irish accent, and Cortana’s tie-in with Windows lends efficiency to task management. It is Boyd’s analysis of context, though, that I found most interesting. He writes:

When a user is logged in across Windows products, Cortana can serve accurate contextual results. See below for an example of the same phrase [“who are Leeds playing today?”] searched by voice on a Windows laptop using Cortana and Google. The differences are slight but telling. Cortana knows that I am currently in Spain (I am using a Windows laptop), and therefore provides the kick-off in my local time. Google is not privy to this information and serves the result in Eastern Time, as my account is based in the US. When results default to Bing, it all gets a little hairier. I follow up by asking who will be in the starting lineup and receive a bizarre result about the USA soccer team, a news story about a Leeds starting lineup from three years ago, and some news about the Leeds music festival. Google does a better job of this, but both lack the immediacy that integration with a social media feed would provide.

 

This same pattern plays out across a wide range of travel, weather, and commercial queries. When Cortana can pull an immediate answer, it does so very capable; when it resorts to providing a list of search results from Bing, the quality varies. Google, therefore, represents a much more consistent, reliable option.

Those last two sentences serve the differences in a nutshell. The article concludes with a handy graphic that compares and contrasts Microsoft’s and Google’s voice search pros, cons, and other differences. Will an alliance with Amazon help Bing narrow the distance between it and Google Search? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, November 3, 2017

 

Bing out, Google in for Siri and Spotlight

October 26, 2017

Was it only a matter of time? Softpedia News reports, “Apple Replaces Microsoft’s Bing with Google for Siri and Spotlight on iOS, macOS.” The company explains the change will make the user experience within these services more consistent with Safari, the browser used by iOS and macOS. Writer Marius Nestor reports:

As of today, Apple chooses to use Google instead of Microsoft’s Bing for web search results on Siri for iOS and macOS, as well as on the Spotlight feature of macOS Sierra or High Sierra and iOS’ built-in search functionality. In a statement given to TechCrunch this morning, Apple confirms the switch from Bing to Google for web search results provided by either Siri or Spotlight on both iOS and macOS operating systems, claiming that the drastic change has to do with consistency across all of its supported Mac and iOS devices, but we know that Google paid Apple $3 billion to remain default search engine on iOS and macOS.

Though Bing diehards can re-enable that search engine within the Safari browser, but not for Siri or Spotlight. Apple emphasizes they maintain “strong relationships” with both Google and Microsoft.

Cynthia Murrell, October 26, 2017

Bing Gains on Google in Desktop Search

October 20, 2017

Many were skeptical that Bing could make any inroads into Google’s market, but now TechRadar reports, “Bing Search Has Taken Over a Surprising Amount of Google’s Turf.” Citing comScore’s figures for desktop PC searches made this past March, writer Darren Allan tells us that, in the US, one out of three desktop searches used Bing and in the UK, one out of four did. Globally, Bing’s market share is 9%, a figure that includes Microsoft-powered Yahoo and AOL searches. What is behind Bing’s unforeseen success? Allan reflects:

The spread of Windows 10 is the primary factor, with Microsoft’s newest OS maintaining a steady rate of growth as time goes on, as we saw with the latest figures on that front yesterday. Windows 10 is fronted – quite literally, from setup onwards – by Cortana, and searches conducted via the digital assistant are powered by Bing. As Windows 10 continues to gather pace, and more folks begin to use Cortana on the desktop, naturally more searches will come Bing’s way. And to some extent, Google getting flak for anti-competitive practices in Europe, as seen last month when the search giant was hit by a massive fine for favoring its own shopping services in results, isn’t likely to hurt Bing’s prospects either. We’ve certainly had several non-techie friends hear anti-Google news hitting the headlines, prompting them to think about using alternatives. This search might lead folks to Bing’s door. And finally, the fact that Microsoft will now pay you to use Bing could tempt some folks, as well.

Yes, Microsoft Rewards is bribing users to make the switch. I suppose every incentive helps. Will such tactics, along with Windows’ dominant desktop position and Google’s reputation problem, continue to support Bing’s rise in the search market? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, October 20, 2017

Everyone and Their Dog Is a Search Expert

October 13, 2017

Young people get frustrated when they help older people with technology.  There are considerable sighs, rolling eyes, and the situation often ends in yelling.  One frustration young people are forced to deal with is teaching an older person how to use a search engine.  Trying to explain how to enter information into the text box, the meaning of keywords, and how to tell the difference between results is not easy.  However, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yandex try to make the search process as easy as possible so everyone can become a search expert.

Learning how to search is not the only thing people have trouble learning.  Tech Viral wrote about the top “how to” searches in the article, “Here Are The Top 100 ‘How To’ Searches That People Want To Know.”  Xaquin GV researched how people use Google as the answer all “how to” tool and discovered the most popular searches.  Among the top “how to “searches are how to make money, how to tie a tie, how to draw, how to kiss, how to lose weight, how to make pancakes, and how to get pregnant.

The essay also examines the top 100 ‘How to’ searches conducted worldwide, and the results are very illustrative. Xaquin divided those searches into categories, with visual representations of how popular each of them is.

The search results mostly revolve around activities that are adult responsibilities along with a few surprises that concern current trends.  Everyone can become an expert at any activity with a few simple keystrokes and tutorial guides.  YouTube makes “how to” guides more helpful and even more dangerous when people try to copy the experts at parkour, skateboarding, and daredevil activities that should never be tried at home kids.

Whitney Grace, October 13, 2017

Bing Expands Rewards Incentives to UK Users

August 2, 2017

We learn from the Verge that Microsoft is expanding its bribery, I mean, rewards program to the UK in, “Microsoft Is Now Paying People to Use Bing in the UK with its Rewards Scheme.” Referring to points a user accrues by using Bing, writer Tom Warren details:

The points can then be transferred to a number of different rewards, including Xbox digital gift cards, Groove Music passes, and Skype credit. Microsoft is also partnering with a number of UK charities so you can donate points to these organizations instead. Microsoft Rewards works almost identically in the UK as it does in the US. You’ll get 3 points per Bing search, and this is doubled (until August 15th) if you’re using Microsoft Edge. You can obtain a maximum of 30 points per day (60 points using Edge) through searches, or participate in quizzes to gain more. Microsoft also gives out 1 point for every pound spend at the UK online Microsoft Store. If you manage to hit 500 points in a month, there’s a second level with better rewards and the ability to earn a maximum of 150 points a day.

Is this program enough to pull a significant number of Google users Bing’s way? Perhaps the expansion overseas is an indication that it has been a success in the US. Either way, it is too bad Bing must stoop to buying traffic and click love.

Cynthia Murrell, August 2, 2017

Bing Introduces an Image Feed

June 30, 2017

Here’s a short write-up about a notable addition to Bing —On MSFT reports, “Bing Image Search Updated with Image Feed, Taking on Pinterest.” After noting that the Tools menu has been renamed “Filter” and moved to the right of the screen, writer Jack Wilkinson explains:

A new feature has also appeared, known as Image Feed, which replaces where Tools originally used to be placed. Image Feed allows you to choose a feed of images…. When selecting an image feed to look at, it allows you to follow it as an ‘interest’, so that you can see new images in a feed. Your personalised image feed can be accessed here. By the looks of it, it appears as though Bing’s new image feed is taking a hit at Pinterest – bringing all the images you could want into one place via a feed, in similar fashion to Pinterest.

Yes, this could certainly replace Pinterest for many users, especially ones who already frequent Bing. I had noticed the refine-by-keyword list at the top of Google’s image results page is formatted much like the one on my Pinterest account. Will that online search platform, still number one by far, also implement a Pinterest-like image feed? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, June 30, 2017

Scadarlia Refines Internet Search Results

June 27, 2017

You can add a touch of arts-and-crafts to your online searches with a third-party preview-and-notation app—“Scadarlia: New Approach to Search Engines Using.” The promo page includes a video and is full of illustrative screenshots. What interests us is the way Scadarlia evaluates the relevance of each result. The Softpedia download page goes into the tech behind the folksy-looking add-on:

The program prompts you with a main window that is split into two sections, which should reinterpret your approach to search engines. While the left section is dedicated to keywords as well as the list of results the search engine considers suitable for your inquiry, the right panel shows the URL you want to analyze in detail. While this may look like a program packing ordinary browser-like capability, it is not. In fact, the application differentiates itself through its ability to follow a series of rules when displaying the results of a Google or Bing search. It can analyze the position of your keywords within your page, making sure that they are as close to one another as possible, since this is what makes them more representative for what you have in mind.

Other features include the color-coding sites by usefulness and the abilities to blacklist sites and to create stop words. The full version can be downloaded for $9.95 from its Softpedia page.

Cynthia Murrell, June 27, 2017

Bing Focuses on Chatbots

June 21, 2017

Chatbot enthusiasts may want to turn to Bing, because now “Bing Makes it Easier to Find Chat Bots,” according to SearchEngine Journal.” Writer Matt Southern reveals:

Bing has released an update designed to make it easier to find chat bots for instant messaging platforms. Searching for a command such as ‘travel bots’ will return a dedicated answer box where you can browse through chat bots for Facebook, Skype, Slack, and Telegram. Bots can be added to messaging platforms directly from search results by clicking on the ‘Add bot’ button. Bing is piloting a test program which allows searchers to interact with chat bots on Bing itself. Searching for specific restaurants in the Seattle area can return a dedicated bot which you can chat with for more information about the restaurant.

Bing hopes to expand the restaurant service to more cities “eventually.” Meanwhile, they have been developing an InfoBot to answer users’ questions with entries from Wikipedia and, later, from other information sites like WebMD and AllRecipies. We’re also told that developers can use the Microsoft Bot Framework to design Bing chatbots, which may be made available to users after a review process.

Cynthia Murrell, June 21, 2017

Microsoft Offers Android Users a (Weak) Bing Incentive

May 4, 2017

It looks like Microsoft has stooped to buying traffic for Bing; that cannot bode well.  OnMSFT reports, “Set Bing as Your Search Engine on iPhone or Android, Get a Microsoft Rewards $5 Gift Card.”  Paradoxically, they don’t seem terribly anxious to spread the word. Reporter Kareem Anderson writes:

Sleuthers over in the Reddit forums have dug up a neat little nugget of savings for iPhone and Android users. According to a thread at the Xbox One subreddit, iPhone and Android users who set their default search engine to Bing can receive a Microsoft Rewards $5 gift card. The details were originally pulled from a Microsoft site instructing users on how to make the change from Google to Bing on smartphone devices. We should note that the redemption process hasn’t been without its issues as several Android users have mentioned that it has not worked or appears delayed in confirming the release of gift cards.

So, they’ve created an incentive, but are not promoting it or, apparently, fulfilling it effectively—talk about mixed messages! Still, if you use an Android device and are inclined toward Bing, but haven’t yet set it as your default browser, you may be able to profit a little by doing so.  Anderson shares a link to the Microsoft Rewards page for our convenience.

Cynthia Murrell, May 4, 2017

Bing Improvements

February 17, 2017

Online marketers are usually concerned with the latest Google algorithm, but Microsoft’s Bing is also a viable SEO target. Busines2Community shares recent upgrades to that Internet search engine in its write-up, “2016 New Bing Features.” The section on the mobile app seems to be the most relevant to those interested in Search developments. Writer Asaf Hartuv tells us:

For search, product and local results were improved significantly. Now when you search using the Bing app on an iPhone, you will get more local results with more information featured right on the page. You won’t have to click around to get what you want.

Similarly, when you search for a product you want to buy, you will get more options from more stores, such as eBay and Best Buy. You won’t have to go to as many websites to do the comparison shopping that is so important to making your purchase decision.

While these updates were made to the app, the image and video search results were also improved. You get far more options in a more user-friendly layout when you search for these visuals.

The Bing app also includes practical updates that go beyond search. For example, you can choose to follow a movie and get notified when it becomes available for streaming. Or you can find local bus routes or schedules based on the information you select on a map.

Hartuv also discusses upgrades to Bing Ads (a bargain compared to Google Ads, apparently), and the fact that Bing is now powering AOL’s search results (after being dropped by Yahoo). He also notes that, while not a new feature, Bing Trends is always presenting newly assembled, specialized content to enhance users’ understanding of current events. Hartuv concludes by prompting SEO pros to remember the value of Bing.

Cynthia Murrell, February 17, 2017

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