Has AI made Microsoft Bing a search engine to be reckoned with?

Blog title: Has AI made Microsoft Bing a search engine to be reckoned with?

By Daniel Falk

Has AI made Microsoft Bing a search engine to be reckoned with?

It's now been about two months since Microsoft launched the new version of the Bing search engine that integrates technology from OpenAI. Initially, Microsoft got a lot of publicity around this, partly because people realised through the use of ChatGPT the benefits it can provide when paired with a search engine, but also because Microsoft was in this case ahead of Google in demonstrating a new technology that can change the rules of the game when it comes to searching and consuming information online.

It is now becoming possible to look at how Microsoft's launch of Bing has affected usage and search behaviour in the search world.

Microsoft themselves have previously said that a third of the preview users of the AI-integrated search service were completely new users. Furthermore, they mention that Bing passed 100 million daily active users.

Since its launch, Bing has attracted a large number of new users who are curious about the service. However, the question is whether they are satisfied enough to stay and thus replace Google as the first choice for search.

The service Similarweb, which compiles and estimates traffic data for different websites, sees that traffic to Bing has increased by almost 16% since its launch. During the same period, traffic to Google has decreased by about 1%.

However, Similarweb notes that Bing has long had a positive trend in recent years with a growth rate of approx. 10% per year.

So far, the changes are probably too small to ultimately have a real impact on the traffic most sites receive from these search engines. Google still gets over 80 times more traffic than Bing. But the rising trend for Bing and the slight decline of Google could accelerate and is important to keep an eye on.

Some tech and SEO sites are actually seeing differences in the traffic generated from Google vs. Bing. One example is the site Search Engine Land which before 7th February 2023 saw 1.22% of visitors coming from Bing. Now at the end of March 2023, that figure has increased to 2.6%. During the same period, the share from Google has decreased from 98.2% to 96.7%.

When looking at these figures, it should also be remembered that ChatGPT via chat.openai.com is also a challenger to Google that probably steals some of the traffic. According to Similarweb, traffic to chat.openai.com increases from week to week by about 20% which is a bigger increase than Bing.

Some simple steps to get an overview of the traffic development from Bing:

  1. In Google Analytics - Look at the traffic trend for Bing through the Acquisition > Traffic acquisition report. To isolate the data to just Bing, create a filter on "Session source/medium" and select "bing/organic" under "Dimension values". Feel free to choose a longer time period to see trends more clearly.
  2. Validate your site for Bing Webmaster Tools - This is Microsoft's equivalent of Google Search Console. Through this tool you can get much more detailed data about the traffic that Bing generates. For example, you can see down to the keyword level what drives traffic, what positions on Bing these keywords have, etc. There are also tools that show the number of inbound links to your site and many other valuable tools.

Microsoft will continue to push Bing and their browser Edge (which is tightly integrated with Bing). Recently, it was announced that Microsoft will release an update that will allow links in Outlook and Teams to open in Edge, whether it is set as the default browser or not. At the user level, it will be possible to work around this but it clearly shows that Microsoft is doing everything to gain market share in the search market.

If you want to discuss how AI and new search engine trends can affect your company, book a meeting with Daniel Falk.

Daniel Falk
Experienced marketer and tech expert with a background in agency and company life. At Zooma since 2021.
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