Searching for Specifics on Large Sites
One of the most popular types of searches involves looking for a particular page on a specific website you already know of. For example, many Boston Red Sox fans first visit Bing or Google for spring training news, with the intent of linking to Boston's local online supersite Boston.com. To gauge how well Bing and Google did at this task, we created typical search engine queries with the name of the source website in the query, and tried to find information on small to large sites.
Google was stymied by our "Boston.com Red Sox spring training" query. Instead of pointing us to any information on Boston.com, Google returned several results from boston.redsox.mlb, which was not at all what we were looking for. To find any content from Boston.com, we had to scroll down the first page, as nothing relevant appeared in the initial screen of results.
A search for "CNN Andrew Breitbart obituary" on both Bing and Google returned News results in the top spot, which was to be expected when searching for a timely topic (we conducted our searches in early March). But only Google's results pointed us to the right page on CNN.com. Bing's top result pointed us to a story on Daily Beast, with CNN.com results appearing in the third spot.
While neither search engine was perfect, Bing was a bit more capable at delivering the right results in less time.
Bing: 4 stars
Google: 3 stars
Search Tip: Use advanced search syntax such as "site:pcworld.com" to tell a search engine when you want to see results from a specific site.
Searching for specific products is one of the most popular kinds of online searches. And in our test, both Bing and Google did a good job of taking us to official product pages when we ran them through their paces.
Google fared slightly better with popular queries such as "iPad models", "P90X workout system", and "iPhone 4S specs". In all three test cases, the search engine's top result led us directly to an official or manufacturer site. Bing was almost equally astute, but stumbled on the iPad search with top results dominated by news stories about the third-generation iPad and the iPad 2. At the very bottom of the first results page was a link to Apple's iPad Web page.
Bing redeemed itself on product test searches that included less-common, more-specific queries such as "Rossignol S3 skis", "best digital meat thermometer", and "ingredients in Diet Coke". In these cases, Bing's results led to official or authoritative sites. Google did well too, but fell flat on its face when we searched for "Cadillac 2012 models", delivering no links to Cadillac's website.
Bing: 4 stars
Google: 4 stars
Search Tip: Searching for a product name only (such as "P90X workout system") is a great way to begin your product research. But refining your query, adding terms such as "reviews" and "prices", will help you get more information before you buy.
Next Up: Taking Action With Transactional Searches