Did Bing Win The 2011 Rivalry With Google Despite Market Share?

    December 27, 2011
    Chris Crum

According to recent numbers from comScore, Google sites controlled 65.4% of core search share in November in the U.S. Yahoo sites controlled 15.1%, and Microsoft sites controlled 15%. With Bing powering Yahoo search on the back-end, let’s call that about 30% for Bing. Less than half of Google’s share. That’s pretty close to how it was at the beginning of 2011.

Can Bing ever compete with Google in search market share? Tell us what you think.

ComputerWorld has an interesting article citing a couple of analysts who think Bing won the search rivalry in 2011, though acknowledging that the market share hasn’t changed much over the year.

Microsoft’s winning of the rivalry, is said to be in terms of overall growth and strategic moves. The strategic moves highlighted in the piece are mainly deals with Facebook and Twitter, which Google does not have. Google used to have a deal with Twitter but that went away earlier this year.

Google’s lack of the Twitter firehose, has resulted in its lack of realtime search, and while the company has indicated the feature would come back, more supported by Google+ (and other sources), it still seems pretty clear that Twitter is a much better indicator of what’s going on in real time than Google+ (though recent numbers suggest some pretty impressive growth for Google+).

My gut tells me that most people missing this feature from Google are more likely to turn to Twitter itself than to Bing, but I could be wrong.

Both Google and Microsoft appear to agree that social is an increasingly significant factor for ranking content. This is one main factor of Google+, let’s not forget. Google introduced the +1 button to influence search even before launching the larger Google+ product.

For all of the success Google+ has had in its early stages, it’s no Twitter in terms of readily available real-time, public updates, and it’s no Facebook in terms of size and breadth of users. Google would love for it to be both, and who knows? Maybe one day it can be, but that day is looking to be a while away at this point.

Of course Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (and others) all have the potential to show search engines how good other web content is.

“Today it’s much easier to see the accumulated results of ‘likes’ and ‘tweets’ as they pile up the numbers, indicating a kind of popularity,” says Bing’s Duane Forrester in a recent blog post discussing the importance of social to search. “Even those new to a topic can see that an article with 100,000 likes must have something going for it.”

“And while the obvious, visual signals of this popularity may come and go in the SERP results, the effect of those gains in exposure certainly can influence how an item ranks,” says Forrester. “Given no other signals for a new piece of content, a strong social signal can help your item get noticed and possibly take an early lead in rankings, allowing other signals to accumulate and either support or refute the assigned rankings. That’s right, just like a big hit of social exposure can help you rank, a lackluster result can leave us wondering if you should be ranking.”

“This doesn’t mean you need to panic if every tweet or post doesn’t suddenly go viral,” he notes. “There’s also the long term effect of interacting with your followers, the links they spread on your behalf, the consistency you show and so on. And let’s not forget that there are still a ton of other factors to weight in before you’re ranked, so don’t sweat the slow starters.”

But back to the rivaly between Google and Bing. Google just secured a major (and expensive) deal with Mozilla to remain the default search on Firefox. If Microsoft had made the deal instead of Google, it could have been a huge boost for Bing’s market share, and a big score in that rivalry, but Google was willing to plunk down, reportedly, close to a billion dollars to stay on Firefox, while also basically keeping a competitor in the browser market alive. Google’s own Chrome, by the way, is doing pretty well in that department.

Google still has to deal with regulatory scrutiny over competitive practices in search – scrutiny that Microsoft is heavily pushing for. What comes of this remains to be seen in its entirety, and the results could impact search market share in the end. Maybe.

Microsoft has its massively popular Xbox brand to help it in its Bing efforts, and I would expect the company to continue to leverage that brand power to help Bing more as time goes on. Xbox recently got a new application platform, which could be huge for all of that, while fueling the Xbox brand itself among the more casual gamers and non-gamer audiences. More potential Bing users.

Bing is also pretty heavy into marketing Bing, though interestingly Google has gotten much more into marketing its products lately as well (particularly on TV).

It’s going to be interesting to see if the market shifts in one way or another over the course of 2012. Will it or will it just be the same percentages this time next year?

Do you think Bing can grow its market share significantly in 2012? Do you use Bing? If so, what has been the main factor influencing your choice? Let us know in the comments.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.