Who Uses Bing and Why Can’t it Compete with Google?

Cecilia De La Viesca Cecilia De La Viesca 19/06/2017 6 minutes

Who uses Bing? In fact, people do – but just not very many in the UK (if third-party platforms like Hitwize are to be believed).

In other countries, the divide between the two search engines is not as bad but the UK seems to scoff at Microsofts’s Bing on a national level. Allegedly, in 2016 they received 33% of all searches in the UK, which is up from 20% in 2015.  The truth is that there really isn’t too much wrong with Bing. The maps functionality is brilliant and in many ways, it’s regarded as better than Google maps by many. It’s extremely fast (try it out) and offers more data than Google maps for actually navigating your way around.

The search results are relevant and load quickly and, most of the time, it is possible to find the sorts of sites that you need. So the question you’re probably asking yourself is, ‘so why does everyone use Google?’ Well here are a couple of reasons why we think there has been a dramatic difference in the success of the two search engines.

Bing Vs Google: Who made the right moves?

As everybody markets for Google, this gives Google the search results with the biggest names and the biggest budgets. When did this start exactly? Well, it’s a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, but one of the reasons people started marketing and optimising for Google more than Bing is simply because Google provides better and more convenient search tools.

It’s vital to distinguish between these two search engines. Hot searches vary wildly across the two, as do the demographics. You cannot really optimise for Bing using Google’s keywords and the same goes for SEO or PPC, because the two search engines are so different. Getting useful keyword data specific to the terms you want to rank for is far, far more simple and detailed with Google.

Setting up your keyword and analytics tools has been made very easy by Google. You grab a Gmail account which takes a few seconds, log in, and get cracking. You can check the search volumes of certain keywords to find out what people are looking for and write content to suit those needs. Simple enough, even though Google changes its keyword tool functionality all the time. In contrast, Bing adds several additional layers of needless pain to get started. For one, it wants you to add and verify your site. How many webmasters does that immediately alienate? It also wants your address, company name and a whole load of other info. If you don’t sell a product, then you are likely catering for informational queries.

Bing needs these webmasters in order to snare more content to present to users. Webmasters publishing on a not-for-profit basis can’t make a return on advertising & won’t ever give Microsoft any money. So why force everyone to add their site and sign up for an account?

So unless people are truly dedicated to appearing on Bing (and nobody seems to be dedicated to appearing on Bing), Bing is going to lose these webmasters, as they won’t know the right queries to optimise for and won’t get much traffic. Google have the problem of working out who NOT to include in their results; Bing’s issue is that they lack the feverish base of content publishers vying for attention that Google have.

Microsoft is a dinosaur, and forcing this level of registration and desperately trying to monetize basic functionality like this is an evolutionary vestige that simply should not exist.

[tweetable alt=””]”As everybody markets for #Google, it gets the search results with the biggest names & budgets”[/tweetable]

Silverlight (Microsoft’s web development tool) is as…

What happens when you take:

a)       a load of disinterested webmasters

b)       a barely used webmaster tools suite

c)        zero incentive to use that suite

… and then combine this with a requirement to install a completely redundant 3rd party application framework which has its own dependencies, install hassles, and which Microsoft intend to discontinue?

Some aging exec somewhere must have missed how Google effortlessly took over the mobile market with software built on open standards and wanted to stick to the “Embrace, Extend and Extinguish” approach they are infamous for.

Creating a fake web standard that nobody wants is to create one that, in the long term, nobody uses, so adding another (pointless) hurdle to the take up of your other features is as dumb as making a teapot out of chocolate.

We don’t want to install Silverlight just to use your webmaster tools!

Microsoft Constantly Rebrands Everything

The lack of internal direction in the company results in baffling product and marketing changes that can be hard to keep up with. Take email, for instance. I used to have a Microsoft login, also known as a:

  • MSN Hotmail account
  • .NET passport
  • Microsoft Passport
  • Windows Live account
  • Microsoft Wallet
  • Microsoft Passport Network account
  • Windows Live ID

I have also used Microsoft’s search engine, known as:

  • MSN Search
  • Windows Live Search
  • Live Search
  • …and now, Bing

You compare this with Google, and you have “Gmail account” which became a unified “Google Account”. We’ve obviously seen some clumsy ideas from their end with Buzz and Wave (and of course there was a big uprooting with the introduction of Google Plus) but generally speaking, Google is Google and doesn’t seek to reinvent itself continually.

[tweetable alt=””]Fun fact: #Bing Live Search’s most searched for query was ‘Google’.[/tweetable]

Chicken/egg issue: Everybody is on Google.

We can’t ignore the fact that Google is just more familiar. It’s a definite issue, but it’s not THE issue which is why we came to it last. The simple fact is that people grow accustomed to the big ‘player’ sites within a given niche that tend to crop up in Google search results.

As these sites are doing everything within their power to market for Google, there is a chance that quite a few of them will fail to appear on Bing for those comfortable searches that people do from day to day.

There are a fair number of folks who ‘Google’ the same phrases over and over to find long used web pages without ever knowing the exact URL of the page they visit, and asking them to ‘Bing’ for them is as alien as asking them what colours smell like.

Restrictive Versus Open: A forgotten history lesson

By being restrictive instead of open, Microsoft’s Bing restricted their ability to foster engagement with the webmasters they need to support their business model. It’s ironic that a company that rose to fame by giving away an operating system would add so many hurdles to this process. Simply put, make it as easy as possible for Webmasters to get some value from your search engine and they will actively make your life easier by paying more attention to the signals that help their sites to rank.

When this happens, you will have the content chicken that lays the golden egg of searchers. Or the golden content chicken that lays the egg of increased searcher engagement. Or something.

Further down the line, you’ll have to invest some time in quality control, but it’s better to filter the eventual hordes of content producers than do everything possible to alienate them from the start.

Microsoft set Bing as a Default Search Engine

Bearing all that in mind, we must return to the original question, ‘who uses Bing?’. There’s a reason why the most searched keyword in Bing is ‘google’ and that must be quite a kick in the teeth for Microsoft. But don’t forget, Microsoft are still one of the biggest producers of devices such as laptops and mobiles, all of which have their default browser set as Bing. Much like Apple set theirs as Safari. So, a large portion of Bing’s users in the UK might be those who don’t know how to change their search engine, or those who are just happy to use whatever default search engine they’re provided with.

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