Google Is Bing’s 4th Largest Referring Source

What sites send Bing the most traffic? Here’s a surprise. According to Hitwise, Google is Bing’s fourth largest referring source.

Below are the top five sites that drive traffic to Bing, or “upstream” to Bing, as Hitwise calls it:

Bing's Referrers from Hitwise

MSN is by far the top source, the last site visited by 42.7% of Bing users before they went to Bing. That’s not surprising. MSN — Microsoft’s portal — has long been a huge search driver for Microsoft. In fact, the company recently said that half of all Bing queries come from MSN.

Bing is also the default web search engine for Facebook, so Facebook makes sense as the number two referrer, at 4.6% of traffic.

Windows Live Mail — that’s another Microsoft property that ties into Bing search — so it’s another one that makes sense logically. It’s at 4.4% of traffic.

But Google as the fourth largest referring source, at 4.1%? Google, which competes against Bing? How’s that happening? Probably two ways.

First, Bing buys ads on Google, like this:

Bing Ads On Google

You can find Bing ads showing up on searches at Google for bing, cashback, search engines, flight comparison and image search, to name some examples. Interestingly, Bing doesn’t appear to be buying ads against its tagline, that it is a decision engine.

Bing also does a lot of TV advertising. TV ads are known to drive search queries. So there’s a good chance that when someone sees a Bing ad, they decide to google Bing and discover what they’ve just seen!

All this also applies to Yahoo, which drives 1.9% of traffic. Bing advertises there, and TV ads probably generate queries on Yahoo for Bing, as well.

It’s clear people do search for Bing by name on Google. Using Google Trends, we can see the growth of this over the last year. Here’s the search volume of those seeking Bing on Google:

Bing Searches On Google

Still, that’s nothing compared to the number of searches that happen for Yahoo on Google. Here’s the Bing chart again, this time with searches for Yahoo on Google added in:

Searches For Bing & Yahoo On Google

Oddest of all, currently more people search on Google for Google than for Yahoo or Bing. Here’s the chart:

Searches For Bing, Yahoo & Google On Google

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Microsoft: Bing | Stats: Hitwise | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://www.wirestone.com kgamache

    Hey Danny,

    Maybe I am confused but I don’t consider upstream websites as “referrers”. That would be like saying I visited my dentist and then visited my chiropractor but my dentist didn’t refer me to my chiropractor. So isn’t this more the case that people didn’t find what they wanted on Google and maybe tried Bing?

  • http://www.icoastalnet.com/Myrtle-Beach-search-engine-optimization-SEO.cfm MyrtleBeachSEO

    I was thinking one more option as well… those people who go to the Google search box to type in sites they want to visit rather than typing it in the address bar.

  • http://www.ides.com pottern

    I wonder if searching “Google” on Google might be related to using Chrome?

    When searching for something like Google Adwords, you barely have a chance to type Google before Chrome displays it’s Quicksearch functionality and if you’ve got trigger fingers, the search engine launches a search for the term ‘google’ before you have a chance to type Adwords.

    Then again, adoption of Chrome isn’t nearly as wide-spread yet.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Kgamache, it’s not as exact as with browser referrers, where you can tell what was the exact site that sent someone to you. But it’s the closest approximation that Hitwise has. I’m pretty sure there are indeed plenty of people who did find what they wanted on Google — Bing. But it is true, someone might have gone to Google, not found what they wanted, then gone to Bing. That wouldn’t have been a referrer from Google to Bing but rather just what some did after.

  • http://www.monolithmultimedia.com monolithmultimedia

    Im not gonna lie, I have googled bing… ha

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