In this week of big headlines for both Google & Microsoft, the quiet escalation in the war between Google images & Bing images has gone virtually unnoticed… until now.
Google officially announced a new “sort by subject” feature in Google images. It’s a pretty nifty way to find what you want, especially when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Google uses the example of looking for a certain kind of a dog when you don’t know the name of the breed. Search for “images” & click on “sort by subject” and Google returns rows of dog images sorted by breed (with the exception of the “images” row).
I thought it would be more fun to try searching for something like “search engines.” Interestingly, when sorted by subject in Google images, the first row of images is “Yahoo.” Google gives itself the fifth row treatment-what a good sport.
Without sorting by subject, the same search returns a long, scrolling mish-mash of different search engines’ logos and magnifying glass icons.
Notice that those unsorted results look an awful lot more like the results the same search returns on Bing images.
I still really like the cleaner look of Bing, but for practically all purposes that I can imagine, Google’s new sorted image results are more useful than anything the snappier-looking Microsoft search currently offers. That’s significant because it means that Google has gone from playing catch up with Bing Images, to ripping off the Redmond engine’s more visual appeal last summer, to adding sorting to create what I can now definitely say is the best image search around.
Yet again, Microsoft is the slower horse in the race, but Google only gained this new advantage by basically copying Bing’s design last summer. So, while I can confidently declare Google the winner in the images search war.
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE :
It seems all of Facebook’s fears regarding Google’s “Search Plus Your World” have been confirmed…maybe.
New stats on referral traffic to Facebook from Google were recently released by a Facebook analytics company called PageLever. The news site Search Engine Land first reported this data. The numbers show that ever since “Search Plus Your World” launched in January, Facebook’s traffic has taken a nosedive.
What’s strange, however, is that referral traffic from Bing is also down — and obviously Bing doesn’t use “Search Plus Your World.”
Google rolled out “Search Plus Your World” five months ago, much to its competitors’ chagrin. The way the service works is by customizing search results and integrating content from Google Plus into users’ queries. Alongside the searches, users are provided with “relevant tips, photos, and posts from your friends.”
At the time, many social networks cried foul and claimed that “Search Plus Your World” was one step further in Google’s quest for Internet domination. Facebook and Twitter argued that Google was propping up its social network while lowering the quality of its search results. Some of those social networks’ engineers even created a browser bookmarklet tool to add results from Twitter and Facebook into Google’s search results.
What PageLever has found since “Search Plus Your World” hit the scene is that Google traffic to Facebook pages has dropped 51 percent. Studying 500 Facebook fan pages with at least 10,000 fans, the analytics company looked at external referrals from Google and Bing. Before January, Google drove 9.25 percent of external traffic to Facebook and now it drives just 4.52 percent.
Bing’s referral traffic seems to follow a similar trend –dropping by a whopping 59 percent from 2011 to 2012.
So is “Search Plus Your World” to blame? The answer is unclear.
PageLever’s co-founder Jeff Widman points out that Google’s referral traffic to Facebook actually began to mysteriously fall off three days before the January 10 launch of “Search Plus Your World.”
“Referral traffic from both Google and Bing to Facebook Pages started dropping on January 7th. That’s three days before Google rolled out SPYW,” Widman told CNET. “The timing is certainly suspicious, but it doesn’t explain why traffic from Bing plummeted as well.”
Copyright 2012 by CNET.com