Three top search engines

For people new to using general web search engines this article is good overview of the main players: Google, Bing, and Duckduckgo. Yahoo and Ask are mentioned and dismissed – rightfully so.

Which Search Engine Should You Be Using Today?, Ben Stegner, Make Use Of (Dec 11, 2015)

In reviewing Google, Stegner stresses personalized search and doesn’t describe Google’s increasing strength in working with entities and concepts. However, he does note some points of weakness in Bing compared to Google.

Bing’s future

Front page, lead story in the Seattle Times – Bing no longer a search-engine blip, Matt Day (May 22). Microsoft claims that one in five searches in the U.S. on desktop computers is done through Bing. Actually, Bing has been gaining from Yahoo – and Yahoo had been using the Bing database. Also – many challenges remain. Bing has yet to break even, or make any inroad on mobile devices.

Of greatest interest: “Microsoft has integrated Bing’s underlying data-crunching technology into its other software, and plans to tie it closely to its upcoming Windows 10 operating system.”

Entities and the search query

Microsoft identifies entities and expands on them to improve Bing search results – or so it seems from this patent – “Query Expansion, Filtering and Ranking for Improved Semantic Search Results Utilizing Knowledge Graphs”.

How Bing May Expand Queries Based Upon Finding Entities Within Them, Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (April 3)

“The patent is telling us that it might provide improved search results by expanding queries using information about entities involved.”

Web Search without the Social

Frederic Lardinois says Good Riddance To Social Search Techcrunch (Dec 28) – and I agree. By social search he means the practice by Google and Bing to intermix the “likes” of online connections with Web search results. Remember the side panel in with supposedly relevant postings by Facebook friends? The results might have been amusing but were rarely (if ever) relevant. This kind of social search has disappeared from Google and Bing.

As Lardinois says:

“I think one of the reasons social search failed is because our social media “friendships” don’t actually represent our real-life tastes all that well. Just because we follow people on Twitter or are friends with old high school classmates on Facebook doesn’t mean we like the same restaurants they do or share the politics they do.”

The concept of having what colleagues found valuable influence the search results you receive on some topic of common interest had some merit but it would take incredible effort to create exactly the right community. Such communities may exist in specialized  social networking groups, but not in the casual relationships of Facebook or Google Plus.

Bing goes conversational

Bing has added conversational search by which it uses previous searches to interpret  the current query and select results. Begin with a question such as – who is the prime minister of canada – get the answer – then ask – what party does he belong to – Conservative.

Google announced conversational capabilities with the Hummingbird update, but it doesn’t carry on the conversation the way Bing does now.

Bing Launches Conversational Search, Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Aug 13)