Badda Bing – not so Boom (well, yet anyway)

A BBC tech blog post in July indicated that there was a buzz about Bing, perhaps, but for Enlighten and our Theses Service, Bing is still a distant second to the search juggernaut that is Google – <caveat>according to Google Analytics</caveat>.

Bing – the “decision engine”

Bing (I am thinking Chandler not Crosby), Microsoft’s latest incarnation of its Internet search engine (or is that decision engine) was launched in early June this year. It’s focus is on 4 key sectors (shopping, local businesses, travel and health) [1] and MS has used it as an opportunity to pull together various other apps such as Multimaps into the Bing space.

The BBC blog entry notes that:

“84% of all searches in the UK in June were done with Google while Bing had just 3.3% of the market.”

For comparison, during June, Google Analytics recorded 8,139 visits to Enlighten and our first registered Bing hit was the 6th of June (and it was just one).

Bing as a referring site – the difference a couple of months make…

During June, Bing ranked very high in our referring sites category and we are not alone in this, Jenny Delasalle has blogged about this on the WRAP Blog .

Bing as a referring site in June 2009

Bing as a referring site in June 2009

In June, Google Analytics blog reported the advent of Bing and indicated that they were working on an update to manage Bing as a search engine rather than a referring site. The post provided a local fix for users who couldn’t wait for the GA update to filter through, we didn’t apply this and looking at data for the last couple of months this is now being done.

Bing as a referring site in July-August 2009

Bing as a referring site in July-August 2009

During July and August though Bing ‘referrals’ dropped from 2nd place during June as a referring site to 92nd during as Analytics caughtup and started properly treating access via Bing as search engine hits. Bing search engine traffic has grown to 4.48% of our overall searches, a distinct second to Google but well ahead of the rest of the “search engine” pack and the OAI search services which don’t really register at all.

Search Engine Access during July-August 09

Search Engine Access during July-August 09

As you can see Analytics shows that over 90% of our access comes from Google with Bing a distant second and Yahoo and even more distinct third.

Enlighten’s ranking in Bing

For “Enlighten” as a search term, we seem to have dropped to 3rd place on Google (from second during July/August, we have been overtaken by a dictionary definition of “Enlighten”). In Bing we are now back 11th place (where we were in July/August after a brief period in the top 10). This puts us on the 2nd page of results – is that the same as being invisible?

A more useful comparison is a search for “Language in Pictland” one of our most popular downloads. A comparison using bing-vs-google shows that both search services list the Enlighten version first, however Bing’s link is direct to the PDF.

Language in Pictland in bing-vs-google

Language in Pictland in bing-vs-google

Search Engines Arms Race

It’s still early days for this “new kid on the block” (if you don’t count its previous and varied incarnations) and while MS execs may be very excited about its overall performance, competition in the search engine arms race can only be a good thing – can’t it?

Innovation is certainly behind the recent Microsoft and Yahoo search deal which will see Yahoo Search become “powered by Bing” and enable them, they hope, to take on Google. The announcement of a new visual search service for Bing is an indicator of that innovation. We haven’t tried it yet though since you need to set Bing to be US and download MS’ Silverlight.

Google are not standing still though and have been working on “caffeine”, their new search engine “which will picks up news stories and puts fresher content higher up the search results” [2]

For the open access/repository community, does it matter how our content is found, as long as it is found?

The most surprising, perhaps disappointing thing about our Analytics reports is how little, if any traffic comes from the OAI search services like OAIster and Intute’s Institutional Repository Search, they just don’t seem to be on our users radar.

The challenge for repositories especially hybrid ones like Enlighten is to ensure that we can provide “discovery to delivery” rather than “discovery to digital dead end”. We need to ensure we can provide links to open access versions of our material and take advantage of tools like openURL resolvers to help our users.

[1] Microsoft’s New Search at Helps People Make Better Decisions
[2] New Google ‘puts Bing in shade’