According to ComScore, Microsoft’s Bing has now officially overtaken Yahoo as the nation’s second biggest search engine. With 15.1 percent of the search engine market, Bing, only a few years off has made significant headway in competing in the market dominated by Google. Since Yahoo is actually using Bing results, this isn’t a surprise. However, the methodology that is being used to determine the rankings is easily fooled.
Simply put, Microsoft wants to be seen as a contender in the search market and is doing everything it can to drive visitors to Bing.com. They know that for Microsoft to compete against Google’s huge market share, they need to start selling more and more search traffic. Thus, they are using techniques that aren’t really “searches” to drive searches.
For example, when you go to the MSN Homepage, you get an entire section that is “On Bing.” Those links when clicked go to a “search” of those topics. In these cases they are driving significant traffic to Bing as “searches” when they are far from actual people going to Bing and using it a search engine. Instead they are readers who probably still use Google as their primary search engine, and will never type in “Bing.com” in order to get a search.
Additionally, they feature tons of articles that actually have links to searches that they have created themselves through the article. An example below of a John Elway dealership article shows that there are links embedded throughout the article, those links go to searches. For example, when clicking on “Denver Broncos” the links went to a search of the Denver Broncos. The user isn’t actually looking on Bing for information about the Denver Broncos, but all the companies that advertise on Bing are being told that there are tons of searches for sports teams and these people are “really interested” in these topics.
The problem with this type of search is that its “Directed Search” (a term that should be used) and its no way as valid as real searches. The people aren’t really interested in the topic as if they were searching for the topic, and when they click on advertisements their interest is significantly less. It’s about as search relevant as someone handing out fliers to people on the street and claiming they inquired about the product because they accepted the flier. It’s disingenuous and has a real impact on real search results.
In fact, Microsoft uses this technique on most of its sites, with links embedded all over the pages that point to specific searches. These searches are often hot topics, and drive people to Bing when they are far from “Bing Users.” Additionally, it’s a great way to drive searches to high paying CPC advertisements when they need traffic. Imagine being an insurance advertiser and paying $5-10 per click and having your budget depleted in a day on these fake searches?
I’d gather that if we knew the exact number of people who actually go to the Bing.com homepage and do real searches, that’s its only a small portion of the actual searches. A perfect example is that while supposedly that Bing is 15% of the search traffic, this publication gets hundreds of visitors a day from Google, Bing almost never shows up in our search logs. In fact we get more people from Yahoo Latvia than Bing.
So Bing’s rankings as the #2 Search engine is technically correct, but that in actual real searches its behind Yahoo still.