Like everyone else I have been trying out Bing.com – Microsofts “new” search engine.
Here is the result page for “buy car” – with “pages from New Zealand selected”.
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?
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.
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.