Google Remains Ahead of Bing, But Relevance Drops

Newsfactor.com

According to an Experian Hitwise report released Thursday, Google accounted for just more than 66 percent of searches conducted by the 10 million U.S. Internet users sampled during a four-week period last month. Microsoft's Bing-powered searches comprised 28.05 percent of the sample, of which 14.49 percent were from Yahoo Search.

More than 81.36 percent of the searches in Yahoo Search resulted in a visit to a web site, with Bing a close second at 80.6 percent. By contrast, Google's success rate was significantly lower at 67.6 percent.

"The share of unsuccessful searches highlights the opportunity for both the search engines and marketers to evaluate the search-engine result pages to ensure that searchers are finding relevant information," Experian said.

Following False Trails

Google's lagging search success rate may be due in part to the massive number of library books in the search giant's database. To scan millions of older works, Google and its library partners used optical character recognition (OCR) programs that are not 100 percent foolproof -- especially when processing old texts typeset in archaic fonts or with foreign-language characters.

Due to OCR errors, for example, Google Books contains a huge number of word misidentifications that can lead Internet users down false trails. What makes this a significant issue is the current preference among U.S. Internet users for conducting one-word searches.

According to Experian, single-word queries accounted for 25.32 percent of the search totals in July. Short search queries of one to four words declined one percent from June. By contrast, search queries averaging five to eight words or more increased three percent from the previous month, demonstrating that some Internet users have realized the benefits multiple-word queries.

The Bing search results from Microsoft and Yahoo are cleaner because they exclude Google's bloated database of library materials. On the downside, Bing and Yahoo users don't benefit from the vast array of resources that Google's search engine can make available.

Bing also excludes other materials that are freely available elsewhere on the Internet, such as foreign-language content that may be of interest to some users. Though this makes Bing an all-but-useless search tool for academics and users with highly specialized interests, it does deliver more consistent search results to Microsoft's target audience -- mainstream consumers.

Core Search Queries

According to comScore, in July Google accounted for 65.1 percent of all U.S.-based explicit core searches -- a category that excludes contextually driven searches that don't reflect specific user intent. Bing-powered searches from Yahoo sites (16.1 percent) and Microsoft sites (14.4 percent) held 30.5 percent share of that category, followed by Ask Network (2.9 percent) and AOL (1.5 percent).

Americans conducted 17.1 billion explicit core search queries last month, with Google accounting for 12.5 billion -- up three percent from the previous month, comScore reported Wednesday. Core search queries at Yahoo sites rose five percent to 3.4 billion, while Microsoft sites accounted for 2.6 billion -- down three percent from June.

With respect to explicit core searches in July, U.S. search activity rose three percent to more than 17.1 billion. Activity at Google sites rose two percent to 11.15 billion. By contrast, those searches at Yahoo sites increased four percent to 2.76 billion and three percent to 2.47 billion at Microsoft sites. Ask Network searches rose three percent to 494 million, and AOL searches increased five percent to 251 million, comScore said.

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