Google or Bing? A surprising answer

From time to time I do the unthinkable.  Yes, I go into Google and search for “roger pearse”.

I’ve done this perhaps once or twice a year for many years, and I did it this evening.  I must say that I was rather surprised by what I found.

Because the content in Google was rubbish.  Yes, it brought back a handful of  things that I have done.  But it only gave 20 pages of hits — from someone who has put something online every day for the last 14 years — and most of these were of a very poor quality.  There was garbage from identity-fishing sites (which are useful as a guide to stuff we need to hide, but not otherwise), and stuff like that.  But there was very little that gave any idea of who am I or what I do.

Now of course I could just say, and truthfully, “Well, I’m not that important”.  But because I have done this before, I know that my unimportance isn’t the issue here.  The Google search results simply aren’t as good as they used to be.

As an experiment, I tried the same search on Bing.  And … instantly I got better results.  Of course many were occasional comments that I had added to blogs here or there, but in general the quality was far better.  And it remained better all the way to page 21 of results, at which point I stopped.

I’ve commented before on the poor quality of Google Books search.  It’s actually impossible to find volume N of the Journal of XYZ in there, even if it is in there.  But this evening’s experience suggests that Google’s main search engine itself is no longer much good.

In which case, isn’t it time we all moved over to Bing?

8 thoughts on “Google or Bing? A surprising answer

  1. I guess my name must be a bit more google-friendly, then. I did the same test but found that Google gave back much more appropriate results. For example, eight of the top ten results from Google referred to my sites or works, but only four of the top ten from Bing. I also found Bing to be somewhat patronising, initially giving me results including “Frank Carter” implying that I can not even spell my own name! I had to click an additional link to get Bing to just use the search term I had supplied.

    For now, I think both are still useful and appropriate.

  2. Funnily enough, I’ve been gradually moving to a similar opinion of Google over the last few weeks – it seems to have gone downhill very suddenly.

    Strange to say, I can’t remember ever having put my own name into Google, although I’m sure I must have done when it first appeared. Couldn’t have been a very interesting result or I’m sure I’d remember. Since I rarely put anything into cyberspace, I would actually expect to find anything there anyway.

    I’m off to experiment now…

  3. I wish I hadn’t done that.

    There seem to be hundreds of people called Philip Stewart, and none of them are me. I found 3 on Facebook who definitely weren’t me. When I looked at Facebook in more detail, I found about 100 similarly named people before giving up. I even found one called Tom Philip James Stewart, which is odd because my two sons are (guess what!) Tom and James.

    I think I feel a mission coming on.

  4. The Doctor Who actress who shares my name has always been queen of the search results (understandably), but I’m surprised that the editor lady is so far down. Kudos to my lawyer, artist, and shrink alter egos, though; they’re fairly new. I see a lot of new us-es, actually. (Obviously that fad of using Irish names did improve the number of Maureens as much as the stats said.)

    When I add my middle initial, the results are fairly good on Google. (And nothing shows up that will look bad to potential employers, so I think I’m good.) Bing is a lot more scattery, for whatever reason. Shrug. But it’s certainly not as easy as it used to be, to determine who I am and what I like.

    OTOH, somebody in Poland was actually pushing one of my Tolkien songs back in August, so that was a heck of a boost on a rainy, chilly December day.

  5. My general impression is that Google’s search algorithms have been getting worse instead of better, though.

    However, playing off the various Google Book Previews against each other in different countries’ Google Books is very helpful.

  6. @Frank: that’s interesting and useful. It would be nice to know how people generally find these things.

    Probably it just means Google likes you better than it likes me. 🙂

  7. @Maureen, thanks for your experiences. My experience is yours, that the Google search algorithms are getting worse (good phrase).

    I hadn’t tried playing off the various verions of Google books previews in different languages — now that’s a nice idea. Must try that some time!

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