First there was the StatCounter story showing Bing surpassing Yahoo! Next, ComScore, HitWise, Nielsen, and CNet all reported that maybe Yahoo! was still beating Bing. (E.g., see: Daily Tech and CNet.)
So what is the reality and what does it mean for marketers? Well, here are a few thoughts:
- It's amazing how much emotion seems to permeate the online user community when Microsoft is in the news. No other company seems to generate so much passion, whether positive or negative. Serious marketers need to filter all of that out and make decisions based just on the facts.
- As a marketer, should it change my strategies, tactics, or processes if Bing is now number two or (one day later) if Yahoo is still number two? I think the answers are simple - strategies remain the same, (internal) processes remain the same, but tactics might shift. Specifically, our strategies still attempt to maximize the effectiveness of SEM budgets, and our processes still continue to analyze our own web sites and related metrics to adjust allocations. So the only thing that changes is potentially the tactics of how much to allocate to which search engine. But the important point is that I should be allocating my budget based on which search engine provides my sites with the best traffic, not which search engine gets good numbers from StatCounter, Hitwise, Nielsen, or anyone else. Those sites should just provide me information about what aspects of my own traffic I should more closely monitor.
- With all of this said, anyone who discounts Microsoft in this market (or any other) is seriously underestimating them. Microsoft does not usually come out with the first, and very often its first or second or even third attempt is not the best. But Microsoft is persistent. They didn't become a behemoth by giving up.
- Next, what do I think of Bing? So far I like it. I already gravitate to it more than Yahoo, but I still go to Google first. (However, when searching Blogs, I think Google is still far ahead.)
- By the way, there's a great experiment on BlindSearch, reported on Mashable.com, where people vote on results from different search engines without knowing which engine delivered the results (to remove prejudices). So far, Bing is beating Yahoo! (but trailing Google). Interesting.
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