I’ve been saying for a while that I don’t believe Microsoft has the right stuff to challenge Google, but that I would be all for another challenger in the world of search. So if you’ve been paying attention lately, Bing has been doing a lot to compete – and Google is matching them.
Obviously everyone knows about the Bing/Yahoo deal from a few months ago. Both sides were crowing about how they would start integrating Twitter into their search results – though frankly, I don’t know how good an idea that will be. Both may have just killed the site by opening the door to spammers – but we’ll have to just let the three of them work that out.
Then Microsoft announced this week they would start using the Wolfram Alpha Engine. This is a special little tool that finds answers to most any question that has a quantifiable answer. If you need to know what a specific sequence of numbers looks like as a barcode, this will show you. If you want to know the odds of a particular dice roll, they have that too. It’s just the kind of thing a search enginge claiming to be a “decission engine” should have.
Google has always had a wealth of features and purchased sites, (YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps,) so to respond they have to show improvements to what they already have. Movie listings have been expanded, and search listings boast greater child safety. Then of course there was Google Wave, and Google Voice, and just a few hours ago the Google Translator was unveiled. (Which will hopefully work better than the legendary but frequently awkward Babelfish.)
If you’re a capitalist, you know this will lead to many improvements in products from both sides. Google has been trying to transform Gmail into a more “social” platform for some time, and Bing has been getting better and better at image search…
If you worry about SEO, however, this means a LOT more work. (Good news for us professional SEOs!) For the first time in years I’ve been researching how to gain rankings on a Microsoft search engine, just in case. Frankly, they still don’t have Google’s traffic, but that can change very quickly. Facebook kicked the snot out of MySpace in a matter of months. The lesson being those who aren’t able to learn quickly and adapt get left behind quickly.