Sep 10 2012

Are Bing’s Results Better Than Google’s?

Does Bing deliver better search results than Google? Bing thinks so, and has launched a campaign trying to convince people that it’s right. It’s called “Bing It On,” and in addition to television ads, it includes the site BingItOn.com , where Microsoft is encouraging users to take its version of the Pepsi challenge – a blind comparison test between Bing results and Google results for whatever queries you wish to try out. Which search engine’s results do you prefer: Google’s or Bing’s? Let us know in the comments . According to Bing, people “chose Bing web search results over Google nearly 2 to 1.” Notice they said “Bing Web search results over Google,” rather than just “Bing over Google”. More on that later. Also notice, they said “chose,” and not “choose.” That’s because this is based on a study Microsoft commissioned, and may not reflect the results from users using BingItOn.com (although I’d be very interested to see how it turns out once they’re done with the campaign. Maybe they’ll show us that later). A Bing spokesperson told WebProNews in an email, “Although most people identify themselves as Google searchers, an independent study commissioned by Microsoft Corp. shows people chose Bing Web search results over Google nearly 2-to-1 in blind comparison tests. Given those findings, Bing decided it is time to let people see for themselves that there is a better option in search.” Bing sheds a little more light on the study in a blog post . “How was the test conducted?” the Bing team says. “An independent research company, Answers Research based in San Diego, CA, conducted a study using a representative online sample of nearly 1000 people, ages 18 and older from across the US. The participants were chosen from a random survey panel and were required to have used a major search engine in the past month. Participants were not aware that Microsoft was involved.” “When the results were tallied, the outcome was clear – people chose Bing web search results over Google nearly 2:1 in the blind comparison tests,” the team says. “Specifically, of the nearly 1000 participants: 57.4% chose Bing more often, 30.2% chose Google more often; 12.4 % resulted in a draw.” Bing also notes that the “overall sampling error rate for the study is +/- 3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.” The following video shows Bing taking it to the streets, betting people an Xbox 360 that they’ll like Bing better than Google. Of course, in the video, everyone loves Bing. “When we previewed our side-by-side test results with people outside the company, I was often asked how we were able to make these gains with presumably less data than the other guys,” said Dr. Harry Shum, Corporate Vice President, Bing R&D in a blog post . “While there are too many variables to give a fully scientific explanation, I would say our long-term commitment and investment in machine learning for relevance has enabled us to steadily scale out relevance experimentation and make rapid progress.” “Of course, as we all know, relevance is subjective and queries are dynamic and always changing. But we feel confident that it’s time for customers to come give us a look, and for a conversation on searching quality to occur in our industry.” The Bing It On challenge, while very much a way for Bing to try and lure users away from Google, was also an opportunity for Bing to talk up some of the back-end tweaks it has made, much of this through extensive experimentation. “Relevance experimentation at Bing involves training machine-learned models on large amount of training data using thousands of features,” Shum wrote. “In the early years, our models were based on neural networks. But as the amount of training data, number of features and the complexity of our models increased, the inner loop of experimentation slowed down significantly. At one point, it took us several days to finish just one experiment end-to-end. We knew we needed to do something.” “To overcome this challenge, we turned to our deep partnership with MSR to develop a technology we call Fastrank,” he added. “FastRank is based on boosted decision trees which are much faster to train and thus attractive for relevance experimentation.. But there was skepticism on whether the quality of ranking produced by decision trees could match that of neural networks. Our colleagues at MSR took on this hard problem and developed new optimization algorithms that allowed us to not only match the quality of neural nets, but also train more than an order of magnitude faster.” Google seems to think it is lending Bing some help as well. Google’s Matt Cutts said in a Hacker News thread , “Last time I checked, it looked like Bing was still using clicks on Google search results as a signal in Bing’s rankings.” More on all of that here , but basically Cutts is referring to a big search industry story from 2011 , when Google set up a sting operation to show that Bing was drawing from its search results. It appeared that Bing was using Google user search queries, gaining access to user data via an Internet Explorer setting. But even still, that would only be one signal, and Bing claims to use thousands of them, compared to Google’s regularly referenced “over 200″. Bing may be using a lot more signals, including one from the world’s most popular search engine, but does it really translate to better search results? Cutts also pointed out that the BingItOn tool struggled with a query for “bingiton”. Google did a better job of delivering results for Bing’s new tool than Bing did. I replicated the query personally, and was greeted with a similar result. Bing was showing stuff for the cheerleading “Bring It On” over Bing It On results, and Google was showing Bing It On at the top. Some readers, however, say they were getting Bing It On at the top for both search engines, so some personalization signals may have come into play, although I can’t honestly understand why Bing would tailor “Bring It On” results to me, especially given that I’ve been covering Bing since it launched (I have no recollection of ever searching for this movie). But, as embarrassing as it might be for Bing to show how Google is better at delivering results for a tool that Bing created to show how much better Bing results are than Google’s, this is still just one query, and the truth is that it doesn’t really prove very much. Anyone can easily find an example of Google providing a less than perfect results page. The truth is that no matter how many queries you perform, Google is going to win on some of them, and Bing is going to win on some of them. What do users think? The Twitter reaction is interesting. Here’s a sample: Follow @bing Bing @bing Think Google is better than Bing? The results may surprise you. http://t.co/Swqx9W4F #BingItOn http://t.co/2Fp68oQs   Follow @leovader Verified Ghost @leovader @bing i want to switch to bing.. but i’m so scared. how can I handle shaming friends/family? what if they sacrifice me to their Google God™   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 2 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone  · powered by @socialditto Follow @prettyblackbae that’ssoraven @prettyblackbae BING ALWAYS GOT TV ADS LIKE WE GUNNA STOP USING GOOGLE   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 4 minutes ago via TweetDeck  · powered by @socialditto Follow @lefrenchfab Le French Fab @lefrenchfab I tried the #bingiton contest proposed by Microsoft, comparing Bing to Google for search. My result was Google. Yours? http://t.co/xf0gr7uK   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 5 minutes ago via Tweetbot for Mac  · powered by @socialditto Follow @ShitOjaySays Shit Ojay Says @ShitOjaySays Google this, google tht… From nw on i’ma “bing” tht shit!   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 10 minutes ago via Mobile Web  · powered by @socialditto Follow @ItsKiddoHere Kiddo @ItsKiddoHere From now on, I’m gonna use Bing instead of Google. Never knew it was so cool. After all, it’s from Microsoft. Being awesome is natural.   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 20 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto Follow @jaredmckiernan Jared McKiernan @jaredmckiernan the Bing It On challenge is kind of biased when i know all the SERP formats…bing sucked pretty hard in my small sample of queries   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 34 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto This one represents a significant obstacle Bing faces, regardless of search quality: Follow @steinberg Aaron Steinberg @steinberg I don’t think I’ll be switching, but turns out Bing gave me better search results than Google. http://t.co/Zj5Sel88   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 7 minutes ago via Buffer  · powered by @socialditto This kind of mentality leaves one to ponder just how much the general population really cares about which one is technically providing better results more of the time. Of course, this has been part of the discussion since Bing launched. Even if it can deliver better results, most Google users are probably happy enough with Google, and simply aren’t looking for an alternative. As far as the Bing It On tool goes, you have to consider that this is not really an accurate portrayal of the search experience on either Google or Bing. Bing says right on the site, “Based on a comparison of web search results pane only; excludes ads, Bing’s Snapshot and Social Search panes and Google’s Knowledge Graph.” The Knowledge Graph is one of the offerings Google is prouder of than anything. Since launch, the company has taken just about every opportunity possible to talk about how revolutionary it is, and what a major step forward in search it is. Bing usually touts its social search features with similar enthusiasm. It strips out the search filtering options, personalization features, and the user interface entirely. There is more to the search experience than what is presented by Bing It On. Then there are the home pages. People love Google doodles, for example. Some love Bing’s daily photos. Some like the way Bing does image search or videos. There’s also the fact that people use other products from these companies. Google users are often signed in, and can easily navigate around the various services they use from one unified navigational experience. Search is just a feature of the Google experience. The point is, it’s not just about the “ten blue links,” which ironically, is a point that Bing has made in the past . So, moving beyond the results as Bing is presenting in the Bing It On challenge, which search engine offers the better all-around user experience? Which one does have the better results? Let us know what you think in the comments .

Jun 13 2012

Matt Cutts: Here’s What You Should Read To Learn About Search Engines

Google’s Matt Cutts posted an interesting video today, responding to a user-submitted question: “What resources (textbooks, online PDFs etc) would you recommend to people interested in learning more about LSI, search engine algorithms, etc?” Cutts first suggests checking out the original PageRank papers. “So there’s a whole bunch of different stuff about the anatomy of a large-scale hypertext search engine and then also a bunch of papers about PageRank,” he says . Here’s The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Here’s “ The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web ” (pdf). Cutts also recommends some textbooks. “One is Modern Information Retrieval,” he says. “That’s got a lot of good stuff about the scoring and the science and thinking about that. And then there’s also one called Managing Gigabytes. I think Ian Witten wrote that one. And that one is just a little bit more about the logistics and being able to horse around that much data and thinking about some of the machine’s issues and how does a large scale engine work.” Here are some links: Modern Information Retrieval Managing Gigabytes “So those three together, and then of course, you can always do searches,” says Cutts. “Google Research actually has a ton of different papers that we’ve published. So you might want to look into that a little bit as well. But basically PageRank, the early Google papers, can give you an idea of how to write a very simple search engine that can scale to 100 million documents or so, Managing Gigabytes, and Modern Information Retrieval, and that will give you a pretty good view of the sort of different parts of the space.” Here’s a list of all the areas of focus Google Research has papers on:

Jun 8 2011

Google on How Much Content You Should Have On Your Home Page

The latest Google Webmaster Central video from Matt Cutts talks about home page content. Given issues like content depth and site speed, which Google has brought up a great deal in recent memory, the content on your home page is …

Jan 18 2011

Is Bing Growth Being Inflated By Shady Sites?

Facebook took in an estimated $1.86 billion in advertising revenue last year, according to eMarketer , and AdvertisingAge says that the top two advertisers were AT&T and Match.com. Google was number five.  It is the third-largest advertiser on Facebook, however, that has raised a few eyebrows, including those of Google’s Matt Cutts. The advertiser is something called make-my-baby.com – not a well-known brand that you’d expect to see in the top three. Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, said the following in a Google Buzz update early this morning (via Marshall Kirkpatrick, who has an interesting write-up of the situation): Visiting make-my-baby.com instantly prompts you to install a browser plugin. The "terms and conditions" link takes you to http://mmb.bingstart.com/terms/ which has phrases like "If Chrome ("CR") is installed on your PC we may change the default setting of your home page on CR to Bingstart.com."  I also noticed this phrase in the Zugo toolbar section: "To uninstall the Toolbar, please visit the Toolbar FAQ ( http://www.zugo.com/toolbar/faq/ )." Sadly, that url is a broken link. It looks like a few people have had trouble uninstalling the Bing/Zugo toolbar, according to pages like http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/questions/746034 or http://mymountain.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-remove-bingzugo-toolbar-hijack.html If make-my-baby.com is Facebook’s 3rd biggest advertiser, I wonder how many people are installing this software without reading the fine print that says "Installing the toolbar includes managing the browser default search settings and setting your homepage to bing.com" ? After some discussion about the find, Cutts also says, "It’s entirely possible, even likely, that FB and MSFT didn’t realize this was going on. I wouldn’t assume they were aware of what was going on." One has to wonder how much of Bing’s growth can be attributed to practices like this. It might not be a substantial amount, but on the other hand…third largest advertiser on Facebook? And this is just one example of a site like this. It didn’t take Cutts long to find several more with a quick search. There’s no telling how many site like this are actually out there.  "It’s pretty remarkable that even at the top of this giant success story of Facebook advertising, and perhaps near the top of the story of Bing’s steady rise as a search engine, is a Web 1.0-style pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible internet users," says Kirkpatrick.  It’s worth noting, as mentioned by a commenter in the Buzz conversation, that Cutts broke this story using Google Buzz, which goes to show – it doesn’t matter if the site is called Twitter, Quora, or Google Buzz – if there is interesting content there, it’s got to have some value. Webspam in a growing problem. Watch our exclusive interview with Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta , who talks about the trend. 

Apr 9 2010

Ask Grows Share of U.S. Searches in March

Google loses share, while Bing remains relatively flat.

Mar 19 2010

Average Search CPC Data by Category for January 2010

Average cost-per-click rates in January for Auto, Finance, Retail, and Travel categories.

Feb 27 2010

Is Their Any Legitimate Work At Home Jobs On The Internet?

I would like to be able to work at home to be with my children. I live in a very rural area and the cost of gas compared to local wages is not worth the trip into town.

Feb 26 2010

Does Anyone Know Any Work At Home Jobs That Are Real?

I’d love to work at home but there are alot of scams out there or you have to pay like $29.95 or so.

Feb 23 2010

Does Anyone Know Of Good Customer Service Rep Jobs, Or Work At Home Jobs?

I am looking for quality customer service or any work-at-home jobs. I do not want to pay to get the information. Why should you pay for a job? I do not want any gimmicks or frauds. I know I am asking a lot. Yet, there must be good companies looking for employees to do customer […]

Feb 23 2010

Is There Such A Thing As Data Entry Work At Home,, Without Paying For It?

I’m trying to find some data entry work to do at home, on the side. I work for a professional office but nothing to bring home. I have heard of companies years ago that would send you work, or you pick it up, and do the input for them in the evening, UPS the work […]