Google is focused on reducing distractions whereas Bing seems focused on providing them.
I use Google. I don’t use Bing. Maybe it’s just habit. But every time I tried Bing it seemed to give me less useful results than the ones I was getting from Google. Maybe that wasn’t totally true. Maybe I was just so used to Google that I didn’t give Bing a proper chance.
One thing that undermined my confidence in Bing was its homepage. It just doesn’t come across as a serious search engine. Today, I checked it again and it is dominated by a huge picture of a blue boat beside a lake.
Now, I’m sure there’s a percentage of the Bing audience that absolutely loves these images. They’re certainly nice distractions aren’t they? But I’m not looking for distractions when I search. If I need images I’ll search for images. I’m serious about search. It’s something I want to do really quickly and really efficiently.
Bing doesn’t seem that serious about search. It seems like it’s run by traditional marketers.
Google is in the process of changing its homepage. Miraculously, for a company the size of Google, the page is getting less cluttered. From about 22 links, it’s going to about 13. From about 35 words, it’s slimming down to about 19.
In a blog post, Eddie Kessler of Google writes: “Regardless of your routine, getting around Google should be seamless, and once you're inside an app, you don't want any distractions. So we're introducing an updated Google bar that streamlines your experience across products and devices.”
Google is still focused on taking away which is quite amazing really. It’s still about stripping down and getting to the essence. That’s a very powerful message to customers. It’s saying: ‘We take search seriously. We take your time and attention seriously. No frills. No distractions. Just search.’
When I show the Google homepage as an example of best practice, people all agree that it is. But in the next breath they claim that their homepage could never be like that because they’re much more complex than Google. Really?
Google also changed its logo, making it simpler and flatter. It’s unlikely that this will have much impact. Perhaps the flatter logo will be a smaller file size and thus the page will load even faster. Bing also got a new logo. According to The Verge, this new logo will help Bing “take on Google.” Really?
How many people are going to change their search behavior because Bing or Google have new logos? What searchers want is improved search results, not improved logos.
Google is a powerful global brand. How did it become so dominant? For many people to search is to "google." Google rose to the top because it was useful. It still is useful today and by simplifying and reducing clutter and distractions, is trying to remain useful for the future. This is branding.
Think of the great web brands (Google, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) and you think of things you can do. You think of useful things.
About the Author
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. His latest book is titled The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online.
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