Google has dominated the search engine market for well over a decade now, and since then, competitors have come and gone. As of November 2018, Google has 95% of the Australian market share, depicting their clear monopoly of the space. But with Bing making some progress over the last few years, it begs the question, is there any competition at all?
Launched in 2009, Bing is owned and operated by Microsoft and is comprised of their old search engines such as MSN Search, Windows Live Search and later Live Search. In the last 12 months, Bing managed to capture 4.5% of the search engine market share in Australia. Despite being just a drop in the ocean compared to Google, it is still considerably higher than other competitors such as Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, even combined.
So why does Google hold such a significant market share? Is it really that different to its Microsoft counterpart? The clear answer is yes. Although both search engines have the same function, Google has gone beyond that by branching out into other markets such as smartphones, laptops, watches and smart home products. The brand itself is a juggernaut, which means that it will take a meteoric rise from Bing to ever match Google.
So from a branding perspective, there’s no competition. But from a search engine perspective, especially in regards to functionality, Bing is definitely making some headway. Let’s take a look at the comparison between the two search engines.
Google is infamous for instantly providing users with relevant and useful information for a search based on just a couple of broad terms. This is because Google’s algorithm has been able to leverage five to six times more data to analyse than Bing, which means it can provide more accurate results have analysed more previous experiences. So in this case, bigger and better will win out. Although Bing is beginning to increase its data pool, it’s algorithm has access to less user behaviour than Google, meaning results just aren’t as relevant.
Because of its partnership with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, the social integration within Bing is a lot stronger than Google, with users being able to like Facebook pages and follow Twitter users without leaving the search results page. Google has self-served in this regard, having previously favoured it’s now extinct Google+ over Facebook and Twitter. Although in recent times, Twitter posts and handles are starting to show in Google’s rich snippets.
Google goes beyond being a simple search engine. With programs such as Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Gmail, users have the whole package of online services. Plus, they’re all accessed by a single sign-in and files are easily connected. Then factor in Google Maps, which is becoming more interactive each day. Although Bing Maps seems to experience fewer errors, the street view service of Google Maps and the recent introduction of Google Lens ensures it still reigns supreme.
Although both search engines run on a pay-per-click model, it’s clear that Google has far more products and platforms to advertise on then Bing, especially with the Google Display Network. Even though Bing is the cheaper solution, you’ll find because of Google’s wide reach, you’ll typically get more impressions and conversions. The one benefit of using Bing is the fact that it is the smaller of the two, meaning there is less competition and often lower cost-per-clicks.
Where Bing clearly differentiates itself from Google is with its Rewards scheme, which was launched in the US in 2012 to incentivise people to use Bing. In Australia, this program was renamed to Microsoft Rewards and introduced in 2017. Members earn credits by searching on Bing, performing tasks and exploring features. These points can then be redeemed for vouchers for the Microsoft store or occasionally, third party gift cards. Google doesn’t currently have a rewards program, but it begs the (rhetorical) question – is this just a bribe to get people using Bing?
So is there genuine competition between Google and Bing?
The answer right now, is no. And a pretty clear one at that. Google’s popularity in Australia hasn’t wavered in the past few years and there is no indication that it will anytime soon. But that’s not to say times won’t change in the future. Microsoft is renowned for its adaptability in an ever-changing digital landscape. Will Bing ever reach Google’s market share or knock the search engine giant off its perch – time will tell!
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In the meantime, enjoy this little piece of humour in this witty Google vs Bing comparison!