Is Bing a viable competitor to Google - a 1st month review

Tue 23 June 2009 09:42, Peter Young

Is Bing a viable competitor to Google - a 1st month review

Despite Google's best efforts to steal the limelight away from Microsofts launch of Bing, one has to suggest that Microsoft will not be overly disappointed at the launch of their flagship search engine Bing. Officially launched on the 3rd June, Bings column inches have been fairly impressive both in terms of traditional and industry specific coverage.


But one has to ask - has the new search engine worked?

Hitwise have today launched some data on Bing's first month, something which may make happy reading to the Microsoft bosses, particularly in the early days and weeks following launch. Bings daily market share in particular during the early days was significant as many people trialed the search engine, peaking on the 3rd June when it was the 8th most popular site in the UK - and the 3rd most popular search engine accounting for 10.8% of searches in the UK.

However since that peak on the 3rd, traffic to Bing has declined quite considerably, as one would presume users return to their search engine of choice - however strangely it should be noted that the average time per visit has increased to over and 8.5 minutes suggesting some level of traction with existing users.

The Hitwise report also highlighted the most popular phrases fro the four weeks ending June 6 2009, was facebook (accounting for circa 4% of searches on Bing) , and branded searches accounting for a significant proportion of searches on Bing during the period (not surprising given the fact many people would probably have been trialing 'tried and tested searches' during the early weeks. In terms of non branded searches the following sectors in particular saw reasonable love from Bing during the early weeks (via analysis of the site downstream from Bing):

  1. Entertainment
  2. Shopping and classifieds
  3. Social Networks
  4. Business and Finance

Interestingly, another positive (according to Hitwise) for Bing was the fact that their other Microsoft properties such as MSN UK (portal) was the most popular 'downstream' site from the Bing site, however in context it also relied heavily on such assets for much of its inbound traffic (45% from MSN UK and 16.6% from Hotmail (Windows Live) - however how much of this is new visits is open to debate - and as such I would suggest how much of a positive is questionable.

So following all that positive news does Bing provide a serious threat to Google's search engine dominance. Looking at the initial data, one has to say a big NO, however it would appear it has at least achieved its initial objectives in terms of overtaking Yahoo in terms of UK usage. Whether this trend continues is still open for debate, however my personal thoughts are that Bing could offer a credible second engine to Google for the short to medium term - particularly when secondary offerings such as Cashback make their way across the Atlantic to the UK (and Europe).

However that utopia of global dominance is a long way off...

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