Google Loyalists Love Bing, But Won't Stray

bingBing gets to the point quicker more often than Google. Search engine query results are organized better by a series of filter options and a more welcoming design, according to a report released Thursday from Catalyst Group.

Microsoft's search engine won over survey participants on several preferences, but when asked to choose the one search engine they would use more often, the group replied 2 to 1 in favor of Google, says Nick Gould, CEO at Catalyst Group, New York.

"Although they appreciate the improvements in design and features that let them drill down and get to information faster, they were too connected to Google," he says.

The reasons for preferring Google over Bing run the gamut. Bing's enhancements didn't strike a hard enough chord to make them convert. Some said they are too familiar with Google products.

Similar to Microsoft's loyalty strategy for its brand, in some cases survey participants were so attached to Google's applications, from Gmail to Google Docs, they felt it wasn't enough to make them stray to another search engine.

In the eye-tracking results, people were more likely to scroll down the page on Google compared with Bing. Microsoft deliberately put more search navigation tools at the top of the page, so people could find the next step more easily in the search process. All users looked at the top ad area in Bing, whereas only half of these users looked at the right ad.

The average time that people spent looking at the top ad was 2.0 seconds on Google versus 4.9 seconds on Bing. The right ad varied 0.6 second on Google versus 1.0 seconds on Bing. Compared to the Google users, Bing's users spent a little less than 150% more time viewing this ad space. Gould says, in theory, this would translate to more clicks on ads.

Several users liked the photos used as the background of the Bing home page, according to the report. These users found it "interesting" and "engaging" -- but some users found photos distracting, and a few felt as if they were surfing a travel site.

Users were initially unsure what the links in the Explore Pane would do. Some said the results seemed inconsistent and unexpected, according to the research. Clicking the Shopping link when searching for digital cameras leads to a Product Search page, for example.

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