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Bingram BetaHoo - poking at a few Bing queries

I like Bing! Bing.com is live and it looks really cool. Very fast, clean UI, strong navigational results, nice extra features like the hover panes, aggressive title relevance, plus all the vertical sub-engines. People like it.

That said it's brand new and we all want to kick the tires.

Search engines are built out of a lot of layered systems. One part can be working great but be subverted by another part that has a gap. Like any product there are always bugs to be fixed and improvements to be made. So launch day isn't the final word on relevance. But it's interesting to survey a variety of results to poke around.

  • Overall the navigational results seem very strong.

  • Bing is doing aggressive title rewriting to boost perceived relevance. Google has done some of this for a while - note the title change on the same url based on the query - [skrentablog] vs. [rich skrenta].

    The "Skrenta, Rich" title came from dmoz.

    Bing is going farther. Sometimes it makes the result look better than Goog's, e.g. [san carlos art and wine fair]. But others are odd, like result #3 for [mike arrington]. That funny-looking title looks like it came from anchortext.

  • Bing's indexing of *.blogspot.com seems really limited. For instance [radish king] doesn't turn up radishking.blogspot.com. Site:blogspot.com on bing returns an estimate of just 560k results. Compared to Google (340m) and Yahoo (230m), Bing's blogspot index seems tiny. Other blogspot sites I've gone looking for are missing too. I wonder if this is some kind of rank or index penalty given the large amount of blogspot spam, or if there is some other issue with their crawl.

  • [michael arrington] vs. [mike arrington]. TechCrunch is #2 for Michael Arrington, but is way down at the bottom of the page for Mike Arrington. This seems to be the fault of the section-ized results; it's under a heading called "Mike Arrington Blog". As others have noted I'm not a big fan of sections or universal search style sections on result pages. It's unfortunate to see a strong result for the query get pushed that far down.

  • Bing, like Google, returns Dogpile and AltaVista for [search engine]. (Yahoo looks like they manually pinned a couple of results for this query.)

Overall the few bugs I've seen are relatively minor issues in the scheme of the entire product and I'm sure will eventually be addressed by the Bing engineers. It's so cool to have a powerful new engine out with interesting results. Kudos, Microsoft!

Comments (1)

Scott:

Thanks for pointing out title rewriting, I never noticed that search engines did that before.

One of the most important features of a search engine for me is how well it recognizes special types of queries. For example, search "define extemporaneous" (pass), "map san jose" (pass), "san jose" (fail- doesn't return map), "inches in miles" (pass), "ounces in pint" (fail), and so on.

If bing excelled in these types of queries, it would become an attractive alternative for me.

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