By Michael Dorausch, D.C.
Who does online news results better, Microsoft’s Bing or Google News? Of the two, who indexes more articles? Who’s delivering the most current and relevant content? Who’s providing the best user experience? Branded as a “decision engine”, Microsoft’s new Bing.com is seeking to grab market share from Google, in the battle of search engines. To see how the two matched up I performed the same search on each site. Here’s what I discovered.
About an hour after game 2 of the NBA finals, I grabbed screenshots from both Bing.com news search and Google News search. I wanted to see how the two engines matched up for delivering results related to recent events. To ensure equal results, the same search phrase was used (NBA finals) for each of the search queries. The screen shots were cropped so they would fit here for viewing (even though they’re still kind of big for this blog theme). The first screenshot displays news search results from Bing.
First off I like the richness of the page Bing delivers. The screen shot doesn’t do it justice, as the background image and Bing logo are not shown here. Looking at the screen capture we see there are 124 news results indexed for this particular search phrase. I like that there is an option to sort by relevance versus most recent. In this case I’m searching by default which I suspect is by relevance.
The leading snippet and title tag pretty much sum up the information most people are seeking. We can see that the Lakers took a 2-0 lead in the series, and the score was 101-96 over the Orlando Magic in overtime. The primary image result, featuring Kobe Bryant, is relevant to the topic. Four sources of “news media” are displayed for video results. Microsoft Bing allows users to mouse over the video thumbnails in order to watch a preview. From a user perspective, that’s a nice experience, but from someone wanting traffic to their own website for video results, I don’t feel too good about the preview feature. Anyways, I would assume most visitors performing a search for NBA finals on Bing would be happy with the results. Searchers received relevant content in a mixed form of text images and video.
The Google News engine has been around since early 2002, and it’s made significant advancements (including video and commenting to name two) during the past seven years. According to Google, selection and placement of stories on the page are determined automatically by computer algorithm. The screenshot above shows that algorithm at work when searching the term NBA Finals. How did they do?
When it comes to sheer volume of results, Google News has Microsoft Bing beat, with 1,649 related news articles indexed. Not all of those articles have been published post game time (on either of the two sites) but Google News also delivers relevant information (to the search query) directly in the news titles and snippets. From a user perspective, I can get the game score and information on who won simply by viewing the clustered results.
Which one is better? I can’t say there is a clear winner here. In the case of searching for this particular recent event key phrase, I think both sites do a good job in delivering results. Google gets points for volume of articles and Bing gets points for including relevant video directly in the news results. Both sides appear to be indexing content from major news outlets, at least from what is seen when viewing clustered news results on the search page.
While Microsoft’s Bing is fresh and new, and displays a background image on the search home page, the Google News website recently underwent some updates and modifications, featuring some changes in color, and grouping of news related search results returned. Video inclusion is increasing on Google News pages as well, and video can typically be watched directly from the Google News home page.
With a growing desire from users to find recent event results as fast as possible, I think Microsoft has an opportunity here to step up their game, and show the world they are a serious contender in the category of news search results. Still, it’s my opinion both Microsoft and Google are behind Twitter when it comes to getting really fast results on searches related to current events. Check search.twitter.com to see for yourself.