Bing.com – Why Microsoft Won’t Succeed Right Now

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bing logoThe talk of the internet over the last few days has been over a strangely named new website called Bing.com. In case you hadn’t heard, its actually Microsoft’s brand new attempt at stealing back some of Google’s ever growing search dominance. It looks pretty, with a beautiful back drop on the homepage. And it has some great new search features. But I know Bing won’t really take off in its current form (and not just because of the odd name associations – badda bing… chandler bing etc). But why?

Here are the main reasons why I think Bing.com won’t succeed in wrestling away much of a search share back from Google, and what they need to change…

1: Bing.com is not friendly to first time users – it doesn’t give a real value proposition on the homepage.  And when I mean no value proposition, I mean that it doesn’t inform users about why they should use Bing rather than another search like Google or Yahoo. Microsoft are obviously just expecting people to try using Bing just because its the new cool thing by Microsoft, and use it because its supposed to be the new competitor to Google. But it doesn’t let the user know why they should run their search on Bing.com instead of at Google. If people don’t understand the real value behind Bing after the first few searches, they are simply going to go straight back to Google or Yahoo, probably rarely to come back. Remember that web users are more fickle and picky than ever before! Fair enough if Bing.com was the first web search on the scene, but its not. And it really needs to help persuade people better with the goliath that is Google just a few clicks away.

2: The homepage doesn’t explain the unique features of Bing and why its better than other search engines. Imagine thinking about buying a supposedly great camera without seeing a list of its great features. Bing is like that. They don’t offer a complete list of the benefits of using Bing anywhere that I found on their site. And its not like they don’t have great features – they have better filtered searching, better image search, autoplay video in results, cashback offers, and more – here is a more complete list of good Bing features.  For a better first time user experience, on the Bing homepage, there needs to be a prominent area with words saying something along the lines of  ‘First time user? Find out why you should use Bing.com’, with clear benefits listed after clicking. Maybe even show a comparison Matrix highlighting why Bing search is better than Google search. Come on Microsoft – play tough – just look at the abuse you are taking from Apple on those PC vs. Mac commercials… go big or go home.

3: Lack of ‘real time’ news search options showing in regular results- No breaking news results come up at the top or bottom of Bing searches like appear on Google search results – these news results are often much more real time than the regular search results, and are of high value to many searchers wanting the newest information possible. There is also no ‘blog’ results search either, which are often another great news source. Probably pretty easy to integrate these better.

4: Bing needs some serious grass-roots viral marketing campaigns to make a real impact. Even if Microsoft do fix the above issues, Bing really needs some kind of wondrous viral marketing campaign, at the grass roots level, aimed at trying to convert the hardcore and loyal Google search users into loyal Bing users. If you convert the mavens like these people, they will spread the word naturally. And the masses will begin to follow. Traditional advertising online is not likely going to work very well here, sorry Microsoft.

Overall, nice try though Microsoft – Bing has some good features, and at least you are showing up for the fight. Now really make the people want to use it – in the very least, don’t make the user work to try and understand the benefits of Bing. It will be very interesting to see how things pan out for Bing – I personally hope they do well, and at least wrestle some of the search share back away from Google’s monopoly, which is bad for a search user experience.  Anyone else have any good thoughts on Bing and their search future?

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  • Jeff

    Timely post.

    I think number one and two are pretty tough. Remember Google started off pretty simple and didn’t make a pitch on their homepage.

    I think you are correct that having news displayed after a search is a feature they should add later. I was searching for the French plane accident and no newsy results came up but more results about plane accidents in general.

    I am not sure how they are handeling 301′s. I saw some 301ed pages showing up in the results. Need to do more testing though…

    That said, I think most of the queries I tried returned relevant results. I liked how they sections were grouped together by themes.

    Anyway, I am not a MSFT fan but I hope this attempt at a search engine will be more successful.

  • http://blog.dis.cuss.it/ Charlie

    The web needs a strong competitor to Google, so I hope Bing manages to make some in roads.

    Personally I don’t think visitor would click trough to view a matrix of features. The value proposition should be the results page and the additional tools it provides.

    Bing won’t be able to make much head way against Google, because users are pretty much happy with Google.

  • http://www.clairefy.com Claire

    Definitely agreed on #2. I’m not sure why M$ didn’t just work on improving what they have, especially if they don’t do #4 and market the heck out of it. They do have a promotional site at discoverbing.com, but it’s not very obvious from the bing.com homepage. They have some great new features, particularly for shopping and travel – but none of that is apparent from the homepage.

  • http://www.scrubsmax.com Brian

    Great article… however market-share is very tough to generate. Search engines are like socks… with the technology that is available, you can only differentiate yourself so many ways. Google knows that all they have to do is maintain and they win.
    You are basically saying that you will not change unless there is a compelling reason to change. Maybe your next blog should be “Top 10 Things a Search Engine Could Do to Get Me to Change from Google.” That is a very different proposition and one that requires a very different analysis. Then you could analyze which search engine best fits your criteria.

  • http://zyxo.wordpress.com zyxo

    I do not agree with #1 and #2 : a search functionality like google search and bing should be simple and intuitive. No user manual needed. And if you try bing a couple of times and see no reason why you should continue using it, obviously it is because there is no reason at all.

  • Shivesh

    I think this page explains everything that Bing does (and looks pretty too!):

    http://www.discoverbing.com/why/