Badder Bing. Is Microsoft’s UK search any good?


We’ve all become quite familiar with Bing since its arrival in BETA mode at the end of May. However, Microsoft has now rolled out a UK version – meaning its results will come under the microscope of the online marketing world.

Heavy investment from Bing to get the UK’s SERPs right means the following features are now available (they’re the same as in the US):

  • Real time Twitter updates
  • Visual Search
  • Hover Mode
  • A tie in with Wolfram Alpha – the computational search engine

One thing you can be sure of is that Microsoft will support the new product launch with heavy profile marketing. Plans for marketing campaigns on radio and across digital platforms mean we’ll hear a lot more of the Bing product.

It was interesting to read what Ashley Highfield (Managing Director of Microsoft’s Consumer and Online Divisions in the UK) had to say about Bing’s aggressive positioning:

“My objective is to get Bing up to a 10 per cent share of the search market. I’m not expecting to take Google’s pre-eminent position overnight, though obviously, that’s a long-term ambition.

“This is not going to be an overnight fight – this is trench warfare. People will use both Bing and other search engines, and hopefully switch totally to Bing, because it’s an easier, simpler way of searching the web. Bing is a better place to hang out.”

Realistically, though, things can’t get much worse for Bing. With an estimated market share of just 3% I guess the only way is up.

The news nicely coincided with a recent Bing experience of mine. Having bought a new laptop with the latest version of Windows, I found the browsers were set to Bing. I had no choice but start using the engine to get other browsers and settings in place.

To be honest the experience wasn’t that horrific, and I can see how the engine appeals to regular users. But, having used Bing to do genuine searches, here are the reasons I won’t be switching over anytime soon:

  • I work in Online Marketing – everyone follows the big “G”
  • I do not value the Bing tools – whereas others such as Google Maps are market leading
  • The algo still doesn’t give me confidence – based on a recent test case where a ‘no index/ no follow’ website can still appear in position 3.

I am all for healthy competition. So, if Highfield’s statements ring true over the next year, it will make it an interesting arena. If Bing can make it a better place to hang out then they will be a step closer to Google.

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