Does Bing really matter? I say yes…and here’s why.

Microsoft launched it’s Bing search engine earlier this summer with much fanfare and publicity, with many of us asking, ” Is it really going to do anything?” We all saw how lackluster their past efforts were with Live Search, and frankly, we all had reasons to doubt their success. Until now, that is.

Search-engine-rankings

Click for current Hitwise rankings

Let’s look at the numbers. Prior to Bing launching, Live Search had about 8% of the search market, up from about 7% the year before. And now? For the week ending 9/5/2009 (according to  Hitwise) they came in at 9.6%. That, by itself, isn’t terribly impressive, but here are some reasons to think those numbers will go up.

1. After just over 3 months, Bing 2.0 is coming. Microsoft is smart – they know their competitors will likely adopt some of their successful new features, things like Quick Preview, very cool Local  search results, Web Groups, Best Match, and that cool Explore Pane on the left side that gives you recommended searches. Instead of sitting back, cracking open a cold one and calling it a day, we get wind they are getting ready to launch Bing 2.0. We don’t have the details on what new features we can expect, but it’s significant that a second roll out is already on the way. As of today, Microsoft only confirms it’s coming “in the next few months” . If you believe some tweets, it could be much sooner. Look for Bing 2.0 to keep that initial launch momentum going. Some of the rumored improvements are adding Microsoft’s Silverlight technology to super-charge it’s Bing Maps. Others have called the new Bing “Sexy” and “Super Impressive”. Let’s hope they share with the rest of the class soon. One thing is clear; Microsoft wants a bigger chunk of the search market, and they aren’t playing around this time.

2. With Bing replacing Yahoo! Search results, their share jumps to a whopping 26.5%. If the change were to happen today, Bing would instantly have a full quarter of the search market. When the change actually happens, which is expected sometime next year, I predict that number to be even larger based on Bing’s current market share. Add to that the Bing 2.0 rollout, and you start to see a real Google competitor taking shape. A full year before the Bing launch, Google’s biggest competitor was Yahoo! Search who still only had 21% market share, leaving us all to wonder if there would ever be a viable Google competitor. Seeing what’s on the horizon, you have to think Google is both concerned and working hard to look at improvements.

3. azdailystar-articleBing is hitting the mainstream. We hear it all the time, go “Google” this or that. It’s what’s make Google a household name and keeps them “top of mind” with users.

How many of us still say Kleenex instead of tissue? Like Kleenex and countless others, Google is a brand name gone wild. Can you really compete with that? Apparently, you can.

Take a look a this article from the Arizona Daily Star. How many of us thought we’d actually see a Bing  suggested along side Google, let alone get top billing? The significance? The top newspaper in a region of 1 Million people puts Bing alongside Google. That’s a pretty big influence. When this kind of mainstream adoption happens, it’s a clear sign that a brand is taking hold. In this case, it’s Bing, and I’m sure it gives Microsoft some serious warm fuzzies. This is the kind of thing that increases momentum, and translates to bigger market share.

As a user, I’m not drinking the Bing Kool-Aid just yet. Case in point, all my research for this post was done with Google searches. I think Bing is nice, but it’s just not my search engine of choice. Watch out, though…with major influences like the article above, other users who have yet to even hear of Bing will start to catch up and maybe even give it a try, further boosting Bing’s share.

As a search engine marketer, you can bet I’m watching Bing like a hawk. Over at EZ Website Monitoring, we are already planning for Bing results taking over for Yahoo!, wondering just how much difference there will be since Yahoo! will have the ability to “weight” results. Either way, It looks like we will all be talking Bing a lot more in the future.

UPDATE November 17th, 2009

The latest numbers support my post – Google is up 5% for October, Bing is up 8%, and Yahoo! is down 1%. Here’s the article:
Google, Bing continue gains at Yahoo’s expense

This post was written by Joey Ambrose on September 14, 2009
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Joey is the President and CEO of Go Web Solutions, an award-winning web design and Internet marketing company in Tucson, Arizona. When he's not helping clients get the most from their web sites, Joey enjoys cycling, running, swimming and hiking. Contact him at: joey@gowebsolutions.com or on Google+

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