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For the past two decades Google has dominated searching for stuff on the internet. “Google” & “search” became interchangeable. But what if (dramatic pause) that’s all about to change?
Google has maintained an 85-90% market share for so long that many people would struggle to think of an alternative. Its position seemed unassailable until an announcement in February 2023 from a plucky upstart, Microsoft.
Microsoft has played in the search engine market since 1998. In 2009 they launched their Bing search engine, to a mixture of disinterest & derision. Bing’s search engine is used by Yahoo, Ecoasia & DuckDuckGo - making it Google’s strongest competitor while getting less than 10% of the market share.
The incoming asteroid for Google became visible on the launch of Chat GPT in August 2022 by a company called OpenAI. Chat GPT is an AI chatbot that can respond to questions & converse in a spookily human-like manner.
Microsoft has been a major investor in OpenAI, & in February 2023 they announced that Chat GPT technology would be integrated with Bing to create a search engine that talks with the user, rather than just listing a bunch of websites.
Having been accepted for Bing’s early access programme I can comfortably say “This changes everything”. I can have conversations with Bing (using typing or speech), and it uses its search & language capabilities to help me.
“But wait a minute”, you might say “Aren’t you one of these technologist people who go around saying how the latest shiny thing is going to change the world?”
Which is a very good point: why do I think that this new Bing will be super popular when it becomes available to everyone?
The answer is: because Bing is built on Chat GPT, which currently holds the record for more popular new service - amassing a mind-boggling 100 million users in its first 2 months.
Chat GPT in its current form is limited compared to Bing, as it has been trained on a static set of data & doesn’t know anything after 2021. Whereas Bing uses its live search functionality to respond based on the latest information. The integrated speech recognition is a nice touch too.
So when the new Bing goes live, it will be a more accessible, easier-to-use, better-informed version of Chat GPT, the most quickly adopted service in the history of the internet.
Here’s an example of search results from the new Bing. It might be more helpful to think of this as a “search conversation”. This is a back-and-forth conversation between me & Bing Chat using their early access programme:
Something worth noting is that while Bing isn’t giving me a list of traditional search results, each response includes relevant links to companies/ websites. In some cases it’s directly prompting me to contact businesses it thinks can help me.
I’ve been using early-access Bing for about a week & already prefer it over Google. I find it more efficient & more human to use - which counts for a lot. Google’s list of search results is already feeling old-fashioned & clunky.
Google has been working on AI chatbots for years. Some of the technology OpenAI used to create Chat GPT came from Google. However, for whatever reason it’s not yet available to the public.
Google’s answer to Chat GPT & Bing is called Bard & will probably launch soon. It’s fair to say people have been underwhelmed with Bard compared to the new Bing - a demonstration of Bard led to over $100 billion getting wiped from Google’s market value. Yes, really.
For the first time in Google’s history it’s playing catch-up with search technology & Microsoft will be pressing their advantage as hard as they can.
By now I’ve hopefully convinced any website owner that they need to take Bing seriously, but what does that look like?
Fortunately, Bing has an ecosystem like Google where you can sign-up & submit your website, business details & products.
UpShift can help you connect to these services if you are an existing customer of ours. (And even if you’re not, let’s chat).
This is Bing’s service for managing search engine listings. You’ll need to sign-up & submit your website sitemap to make sure your website & all its pages are listed on Bing.
This is Bing’s business directory listing service. You’ll need to sign-up, claim your business & make sure your details are up to date. To make things easier you can connect this to “Google My Business” & it will sync your details from there.
This is Bing’s product listing service. It can be integrated with e-commerce platforms like Shopify so your products can be listed directly in Bing’s search results.
When you sign up to Bing Webmaster Tools you’ll have the option of signing up to Microsoft Clarity, which is an analytics service. I highly recommend this as it’s easier to use than the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Banner Photo by Rubaitul Azad
Think that we can help? Feel free to contact us.