The Fail of Bing. And google.

Like everyone else I have been trying out Bing.com – Microsofts “new” search engine.

It’s useless.

Here is the result page for “buy car” – with “pages from New Zealand selected”.

Bing
Firstly it is difficult to see where the advertisements stop and the results start. On my giant screen the yellow is white, while the format of the ads looks the same as the results. I feel that Bing is trying to trick me into clicking on the ads.

Secondly all of the advertisements are Australian – except for hapless Yellow.co.nz that is still buying traffic for some bizarre reason.

Thirdly they manage to miss that Trade Me is (by a considerable margin) the biggest car market in New Zealand. Zillion and Autotrader are markets, but what the heck is Manheim Fowles doing in 7th place, and why does BuyRight get such play?

Trade Me actually does pop up further down  on the list, coming in at 16th place with the car seats category, and in 21st place with ride on toys category. Meanwhile Turners home page scrapes into 31st spot – both results are far too low to be useful.

Similarly searching for “Buy iPod” gets a bunch of useless Australian ads, but it does get Trade Me and Apple NZ in the top three – a win. Those two stores are almost certainly the biggest online sellers of iPods in New Zealand. However theboysdownunder.com are certainly not, and the page shown is a deep link special offer – so what are they doing in the #2 slot?

Bing

Finally I ran the “buy car” search on Google.co.nz – and was astonished to find that they too fail to pick that Trade Me is the marketplace for cars here. They also didn’t pick up Turners auctions, though Turners managed to buy the prime advertising position.

Google, of course, gets the delineation between advertising and results right – with a darker background, slight indentation and different format for that top Turners advertisement. The rest of the results are reasonable as well.
Trade Me

So – what have we learned?
Firstly yet again the lesson is to never brag about a new search site until it actually works. Cuil is probably still out there – but nobody cares.
Next – Microsoft still doesn’t get it. But we knew that. At least I don’t have the visceral negative reaction to Bing that I do to the Windows Live brand.

Finally even Google gets it wrong sometimes. Sure Trade Me can do a better job on SEO, but they simply don’t need to any more as everyone knows that’s where you go.

Back to the nineties sites like metacrawler were the way to go – passing your search phrase to several engines at once, as they all sucked to one extent or the other. The along came Google, which actually worked, and everything else faded away.

It’s still clear that Google is still vastly better than anything else out there, so I simply don’t understand why you’d use anything else at the moment.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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8 Responses to The Fail of Bing. And google.

  1. David Powell says:

    i don’t think many people use that nz only filter in google. But still trademe doesn’t rank well for that term. they have paid search on the term but must not be bidding too high because they had 1 impression when i refreshed the serp like ten times…

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  2. opengovtnz says:

    @david pwoell: You don’t think people use the NZ only filter? I use it every day, several times a day. If you need to find New Zealand Companies and content it is the only way to filter out most of the crap.

    @lance: Fusion car audio is huge. Have you not seen cars with Fusion stickers on them and some fat abse coming out of the speakers?

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  3. Marshall says:

    Agree that google is by far the best search engine out there. However I still applaud microsoft for trying. I don’t want to be stuck with a monopoly because eventually google will start to suck if there isn’t competition.

    Now MS just has to learn to build a decent product and not let their marketing teams make promises their tech cannot back up.

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  4. Jay says:

    In Bing (under the search box) there is text:
    “Results are included for buy cars. Show just the results for buy car.”

    If you click the “buy car” link so it doesn’t search plurals (http://www.bing.com/search?q=%2Bbuy+car&go=&form=QBRE&filt=rf) then the results are actually very good. Turners, TradeMe, AA, autotrader – they’re all on the first page.

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  5. There’s an assumption in this post that online search is primarily about buying stuff — that Google is a great big classified advertising section. Search does have that role, but online search is about far more than simply finding products to buy.

    The acid test is how well Bing works with all classes of information. For example, how does it compare to Google when kids look up information for homework?

    If it performs well with general search, the commercial stuff will follow. If it fails then it’s dead in the water.

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    • toabel says:

      I like this.

      Mine isn’t a normative opinion and likely of little relevance here. I think I like Google’s history and culture and the company, but I have never liked using the search engine or personally connected with why it’s so popular.

      Overwhelmingly, I’m not searching to buy stuff (which alone may render my vote irrelevant to search). I come to search with enough info to really retrieve what I’m needing from likely several search engines, but I typically go with the cleanest looking one that lays out relevant information in a manner that’s visually accessible for me. It should be clean, compact and enumerated–search is a very visual event for me as well as informational, maybe in that order. Stuff often is: resumes, packaged/fresh food, insignias, lobbies, websites,….I don’t care how great/relevant the results are if they look like scrambled eggs and Google always has to me. I’ve quietly thought as a female that the Google search people had to be mostly male because no female eye would design a page that looked like that…just thoughts, but maybe not all madness.

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  6. Dylan says:

    Anyone wanting some Zillion SEO magic please email me :P

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  7. Shaun ryan says:

    From what I understand most of the new Bing features are released only in the US. You get quite a different experience when you change your country to the US.

    I believe The NZ results are the same as you used to get on Live.com. Some of the new features are cool but you only see them if you’re searching in particluar domains – eg flights or shopping.

    Whether these features are enough to help MS significantly increase their search share is anyone’s guyess.

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