Bing: It’s The Relevancy, Stupid

Lost in the shuffle of yesterday’s report about Bing’s impact on the search industry was some interesting and, for Microsoft, potentially valuable feedback on its new search engine.

The J.P. Morgan report (available to the company’s clients at is based on a survey of 763 U.S. adults and their search behavior during June — Bing’s first month online after replacing Live Search.

When Bing launched, much was made of its new design, showing topics, related searches, and other information in the left-side column. The decision to organize search results into categories earned Bing a lot of buzz, too, along with the web page previews that appear to the right of some results.

But for all the talk and promotion of Bing’s new design, the J.P. Morgan study suggests it’s the relevancy that matters.


When asked to name Bing’s greatest strength, relevance of results was a clear No. 1, well ahead of “variety of results.” In fact, design-related choices like “user interface” and “organization of the results page” tied for fourth with less than 10% each.

On one hand, this is good news for Microsoft that so many people are saying relevance is the best thing Bing has going for it. On the other hand, it also validates Google’s approach all along: relevant results first and foremost, even at the expense of frills and design. And as long as searchers believe Google has the most relevant results, all the new design ideas in the world may not make a difference.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Microsoft: Bing | Stats: Search Behavior


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • chrisjohnston

    While the relevancy is important I don’t think you can discount design completely. Many people don’t notice the design until you strip it away. So asking people if it matters may not get you the real answer because they don’t know what Bing would look like without it. I think that if they can offer relevant results and design they may have an advantage on Google. You also need to remember that Microsoft is saying that they are not a search engine but a “decision engine”. They want to help you make the right choice not just give the best selection of choices.
    Do I think they will beat Google with this, no, but I do think that eventually someone will and this may be the first step on the way that happening.

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