While Google has everything that I personally need, it has its shortcomings when you compare it against some of the features Bing and Yahoo! have to offer. Even if you’re a Google supporter, knowing that it has competitors standing up and challenging it to improve, should make you happy. Without them, Google would look like a monopoly.
Google isn’t perfect, and I’m here to tell you why. I was wondering to myself this week, “Why would anyone have their homepage or default search engine set as anything other than Google?” It’s the obvious choice, and anything that comes across as obvious obviously has some pretty strong reasoning behind it. Google’s network of tools and services help empower its search engine and really make it something special that competitors should have a healthy fear of. It came as quite as a surprise to me when I heard that Microsoft was taking MSN Search and spinning it as Bing in 2009, and it’s just as surprising that Yahoo! is still surviving in 2013.
Let’s look at some of the things that Google’s most respected competitors hold over this Internet superpower.
What can Bing do better than Google?
The first impression is huge. Aesthetically, Bing has the edge over Google.
Google users surely notice the artsy logos that Google pushes out during holidays and special events, but Bing takes that to an entirely different level (as you can see above). It’s always refreshing to see which backdrop you’ll be searching over on any particular day. Visuals are hardly a make-or-break situation if you’re picking between the two search engines. That being said, have you tried out Bing Images?
I use Google Images frequently, but was a little surprised at how differently Bing handles their image searches. Bing Images includes “entity understanding,” meaning that the search engine can interpret if what you’re looking for is a person, place, or thing and show image results more effectively based on this understanding. Bing Images filters out exact or near duplicates much better than Google. Bing even uses higher quality images as part of their algorithm.
Images aren’t the only thing that Bing searches well with. I was surprised when Google decided they’d do away with Google Videos in 2012. Bing Video Search feels and looks like Bing Images, but allows you to search through videos.
Another small beef I have with Google is that the homepage is literally just an input field for you to enter search keywords. It’s incredibly minimalist and sleek, but sometimes you want more than that.
While it’s not quite my cup of tea, Bing at least provides a slider at the bottom of their homepage that lets you see what’s trending on the web right now. Even better is that you’re able to see your Bing Search history in a table to the right of this slider. It’s a pretty cool feature for its natural purpose, or even to see if anyone may have been using your computer while you’re away.
Without taking search itself into consideration, Bing still has a pretty long way to go before they’re able to pull me away from Google. While I agree that the homepage is more attractive, Bing Images is impressive, and Bing offers a bit of news at a glance, the power of Google’s search against Bing is (in my opinion) just too overwhelming.
What can Yahoo! do better than Google?
Bing came out of the gate swinging and attempting to aggressively compete with Google’s dominance in the area of search. They’ve yet to turn me into a huge believer, but Yahoo! takes a different approach. While they aren’t discrediting their own search engine, they’ve had years to establish other parts of their brand which help it compete against Google as a total package.
The total package is the first thing we should look at, in regards to each search engine’s homepage. Compared to Google, Yahoo! offers quite a lot.
This is how I prefer my homepage to look. I like to see these things. The more hardcore Google fans will reply, “You can just use iGoogle if that’s what you want!” It’s true. Unfortunately, iGoogle is being retired in November of this year. Yahoo! offers so much more as a true start page for the browser.
While Google boasts some of the web’s most popular services, such as Gmail; Yahoo! offers a few that Google still hasn’t found a response for. For starters, there’s Yahoo! Local.
Don’t take this as if I’m bringing into question Google Earth or Google Maps, because those (and the services connected to and powered by it) are absolutely amazing. However, Yahoo! Local was the web’s first local search engine where you can see businesses and services in your area.
How about Yahoo! Answers?
Google has yet to push out a branded response to one of the most valuable question-and-answer databases on the entire internet after Google Answers shut down. Results from Yahoo! Answers show huge rankings in Google’s search engine, too. The recent updates to Yahoo! Answers will help to perk things up even more.
More surprising than any is Google’s lack of response to Flickr, which I’d call the web’s best online photo sharing application.
It seems right up Google’s alley. Picasa is good, but it’s nowhere near what Flickr offers. Google really needs to ramp up their game in this area, because Yahoo! definitely dominates this niche. It’d be a good piece to the puzzle, as proper integration with Gmail and Google+ could mean big things.
While Picasa certainly has benefits, such as its desktop application and an online image editor, Flickr appeals to me more on its front end. Flickr is a Yahoo! service that feels more independent and easier to navigate, while Picasa and Google+ Photos serve a purpose that seems more connected exclusively to the Google network. It’s a personal preference, but Flickr comes across to me as the more household name when it comes to online albums. In terms of sheer capacity, Flickr definitely comes out on top.
I won’t be the one to tell you not to go to Google when you need to search the web. In my opinion, it’s not even worth questioning that Google is the best search engine you’re going to find. However, some of us are looking for more. Yahoo! offers a better homepage. Bing looks fresher and offers a more promising approach to searching for images. There’s more out there if you’re looking at the grand scheme of things, and it’s important to stay tuned in with what the other search engines have to offer.
What do you think about these differences between Google and its competitors? Are they worth taking into consideration when deciding which ends up as your homepage or default search engine? Let me know in the comments below!