A new study suggests that Wikipedia gets better visibility on Google than it does on Bing.
While that may not surprise much of the SEO industry, it contradicts what some Google employees have previously said, as well as another recent study on Wikipedia’s search visibilty.
In the previous study, Wikipedia appeared on page one of Google 46 percent of the time, and on page two for 25 percent of the searches/keywords.
In its updated study, Wikipedia appeared on Bing’s page one for 31 percent of searches, and on page two only five percent of the time. The chart below shows Wikipedia’s visibility on Google (blue) and Bing (green) for all 2,000 combined keywords, as well as for the separate informational and transactional keywords.
(Note: The image above is a replacement provided by Conductor because the original image had a typo.)
At various conferences that I’ve attended, Google’s Matt Cutts has mentioned seeing earlier studies that had Bing showing Wikipedia more often in its search results than Google does. He echoed that sentiment in the comments of his Google+ post about Conductor’s earlier study. A recent Search Engine Watch study also suggested that Bing favors Wikipedia more than Google.
Why the discrepancies? It’s likely due to survey methodology, not to mention the rapidly changing search results landscape. (Search results can differ day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, so a study done one month is likely to differ from another study done a month later.)
In its studies, Conductor compared 2,000 informational and transactional keywords of varying word lengths. Navigational keywords were not included because Conductor found very low Wikipedia visibility for those types of keywords.
Bing Still Loves Wikipedia, Just Differently Than Google
Conductor’s recent study did reveal an interesting trend: Even though Wikipedia appears more often on Google’s page one, when Wikipedia does show up on Bing’s page one, it’s at the top of the results more often.
When Wikipedia is one page one, Conductor found it in the top three results 83 percent of the time on Bing, compared to 65 percent on Google.
Conductor also removed one-word queries from its study and found that, overall, Wikipedia appeared about 10 percent more often on Google’s page one than on Bing’s page one.
As I mentioned above, with search results changing so frequently, no study is likely to end the discussion on Wikipedia’s search visibility. But, if nothing else, all of this data related to search visibility — whether it’s Wikipedia or other major sites like Amazon — makes for good industry discussion.