Last Update: April 29, 2021
In the world of search, Google truly is king. Google is a household name, and the word itself has been elevated to verb status, like Slack and Facebook. In the world of SEO, some try to be more generic and use the term “search engines” or mention Google, Bing, and Yahoo each time they talk about search engines. But in reality, Google dominates the search landscape. But that doesn’t mean the other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, even DuckDuckGo are any less important.
So what is the actual differences between search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo? How do you compare Google with other search engines? Do they all do the same thing? Does Google do it better because it’s so popular? Are there differences that make one better than another in certain situations? Do most people just use Google because Google is a household name? Luckily for you, we’ve got answers.
Are All Search Engines the Same?
In a way, asking “are all search engines the same” is like asking if all fast food burgers are the same. However, dissecting and explaining the differences between Google, Bing, and Yahoo is not as simple as explaining the differences between McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. They will all deliver results when you search on them, with some variation.
Google is a company with an array of products that all integrate with search, the search engine being the flagship product. Bing is a search engine which powers a few other search modules. And Yahoo is not a search engine at all, but a web portal with a search engine powered by Bing.
So are all search engines the same? Kind of. But these and other differences all contribute to the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of each company’s search abilities. This article will focus on the specific consumer-facing differences and nuances of each search engine or portal and their associated search engine results pages (SERPs). And we’ll even get a little SEO perspective as well.
Google vs Bing vs Yahoo
What is Google?
It’s hard to define what exactly a search engine is. Each has its own unique features. Google prides itself on providing the most in depth information in an easy to follow format for the user. It has many features such as the featured snippets at the top of the SERPs for many search queries. These boxes display above any links to articles, news, and website results for the associated search term. The boxes often appear as short answers to a user’s query and the intent, once again, is to answer the searcher’s question quicker—in this case without requiring the user to click into a link. Types of answer boxes include word definitions, flight information, movie showtimes, population charts, and dozens of other bits of information.
For another type of quick answer unique to Google: search for “movies playing in (your area)”. Google returns a horizontal scrolling list of current movies above the organic list of top-ten search results.
Google SERPs also sometimes feature right-column previews of information about the search. This right-column content is a product of Google’s Knowledge Graph and often includes images, Wikipedia snippets, and related information and searches. It also pulls up business directory information with the ability to call right from the SERP, and maps results for local searches.
What is Bing?
Bing has a much more visual home search page, compared to Google’s extremely simplistic version, with links to trivia bits and news embedded in the background photo. The search home also has a news carousel across the bottom. Otherwise, the search engine works much like a traditional search engine: type a query, and then press “enter.”
Bing also implements SERP answer boxes, although they are much less dynamic than Google’s. Bing also has its own right-column content called Snapshots, which looks very similar to Google’s Knowledge Graph results. For example, if you type “population of sweden”, Bing brings up an answer box with a population graph preceding the organic results as well as Snapshots from Wikipedia, points of interest, and related searches.
Notably, Bing SERP “extras” are becoming increasingly effective and Bing seems to be always adding more types of answer boxes and Snapshots in an effort to catch up to Google.
One unique aspect of Bing is Bing Rewards. When signed in, users earn points for each Bing search that can be redeemed for games, movies, apps, gift cards, and sweepstakes entries.
What is Yahoo?
Yahoo is considered an internet portal, rather than a search engine, with web search as one of the portal’s key features. Yahoo’s homepage is much more decorated and interactive than Google or Bing and includes a vast array of products and features that connect a user to news, shopping, travel, email, sports scores, and much more.
Yahoo’s internet search is powered by Bing, although Yahoo controls the design and results displayed on its SERPs. (Search Engine Land has a lot of information on the Yahoo/Bing deal.)
Answer boxes are few and far between and right-column content is nonexistent on Yahoo SERPs: searching for “population of Sweden” returns a snippet of info from Wikipedia that somewhat resembles a search result and an answer box hybrid. Searching for a definition of a word returns a similar result/answer box combination.
What is the Difference Between the SERPs?
In addition to the differences in answer boxes and other “extras” on each SERP, organic search results vary as well. Even Yahoo and Bing SERP results can vary depending on the search query, despite being powered by the same search technology.
When I searched my name on Google, Bing, and Yahoo image search, Bing and Yahoo returned an overwhelming amount of images that were not images of people. Google, on the other hand, returned images of me, and the vast majority of the other images were people as well. In other words, Google interpreted my intentions much more accurately than Yahoo or Bing. Note that I performed this search not signed in to any Google account, and on a computer and browser that I had never previously used.
Local searches seemed to produce the most similar content between Google, Bing, and Yahoo. While each SERP looks different, they all include listings from directories, ratings, maps, actual company websites, and ads. The organic results were similar, mostly in a different order.
Each engine or portal values directories such as Yelp and Urban Spoon for local food searches. Additionally, Google and Bing rank results from their own business directories first (after ads) for local business searches.
The SEO Perspective
Across the board, local search and business directories are key. Bing and Google each have their own directories and rank those directories above any other search result. In addition, while each engine has a different algorithm and a different way of ordering results, the organic results are similar enough to prove that you don’t need completely different SEO tactics to optimize for Google and Bing.
Certainly there is benefit in studying the nuances of both engines and catering to those nuances. But do not feel overwhelmed by thinking that you need two (or three) completely different SEO strategies. Search engines mostly concern themselves with providing the user with the information he or she is seeking. Therefore, SEO best-practices, namely technical website optimization, relevant and useful information, and a consistent user-friendly experience, are recognized by all the big players.
Google controls two-thirds of the market, and catering SEO tactics to the Google algorithm is certainly worthwhile. Bing/Yahoo control a good portion of the rest of the market, and you will have to decide if researching and employing SEO strategies that cater to the Bing search engine is worthwhile for your particular industry.
Comparing Google with Other Search Engines
Ultimately, what search engine you choose is mostly a matter of personal preference. Bing is fairly similar to Google in how it presents data, the extras like answer boxes. Yahoo is better than Google in that it offers you more suggestions and trending items that you might not realize you’re looking for. Bing offers a more visual experience. But Google does take the lead in the world of search, and others just follow suit with what Google determines is necessary or valuable. It’s impossible to say which is better Yahoo versus Bing versus Google, or any other search engine. It’s a matter of personal choice and how you want to gain information.
Just like we mentioned before, Google does take the lead in the world of search. And ultimately, others just follow suit with what Google determines is necessary or valuable. Google has its ways of determining whether or not your content or website is valuable to its users. However, you may ask yourself how often is Google crawling my site? Or wonder how to remove my information for free when things need to be refreshed or taken down. It’s up to you to keep your information updated and ready for Google to crawl it.
Google vs Bing vs Yahoo FAQs
Why does my Google search go to Yahoo?
When you have set your browser’s default search engine to Google or something else, and it keeps switching back to Yahoo suddenly, it’s likely that your computer has malware. And it has nothing to do with Yahoo. The virus just redirects your search to Yahoo after sending you through a series of redirects, where it likely collects your data as you go. To fix it, you need to reset your browser’s settings. That should keep the virus from spreading to the rest of your computer.
Why does my Google search go to Bing?
Very similar to the above answer, if you type into a search bar that you thought was Google, but you end up on Bing or another search site, it’s likely that you have malware in your system. This virus runs your browser through several redirects before landing you on a different search engine like Bing, collecting your information as it goes. Reset your browser settings to most likely fix the problem.
How do I change my browser from Yahoo to Google?
To change the default search engine, you need to change the settings in your Browser. Google Chrome defaults to the Google search engine. Firefox defaults to Yahoo. Each browser has its own unique settings, but there are ways to change the default search engine to Google.
On Google Chrome:
- You need to click on the Settings option under your browser menu found in the top right corner of your browser.
- On the left side, look for the Search Engine menu item.
- Select Google from the dropdown menu.
- Click on the hamburger menu in the top right corner and select Preferences.
- Select Search in the left hand menu.
- Select Google from the Default Search Engine dropdown menu.
- Select Preferences in the Safari menu in the top left corner of your screen.
- Select the Search Icon from the menu bar.
- Select Google from the dropdown menu.
Is Yahoo a search engine?
Technically Yahoo is called a “portal” and uses Bing to deliver search results. Originally Yahoo Search was its own entity, providing results based on its own algorithm that provided search results under the Yahoo brand. But in 20009, Microsoft and Yahoo announced a deal where Bing powered search results.
Which is best – Google, Yahoo, or Bing?
This is again a matter of personal preference. Google sets the standard in the world of search and most just follow suit. Yahoo has more of a discovery process with features you won’t find in other places. Bing takes you down a visual experience with many similar features to Google such as snippets and right rail information.
Google takes the lead in most circumstances, and then other search engines follow the trends. From there, it’s the clear leader in the world of search. But we encourage every user to test different search engines and see what works best for them.
Is Bing a browser or search engine?
Bing is a search engine. While Google has products like Google Chrome, which is a browser that defaults to its own search engine, Bing is just a search engine on its own. You can use Bing on Chrome or any other internet browser such as Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. Same with Google, it’s the default search engine on Chrome, but you can perform a Google search on any browser.
Is Bing owned by Google?
Bing is owned by Microsoft. A rival competitor in the big tech community, Microsoft created Bing to compete with the Google search engine directly. And while Google still owns a large majority of the market, Bing is the closest to becoming a direct competition.
Google is technically part of the Alphabet company, of which the Google search engine is the primary product. But under this falls Youtube, Google My Business Directories, Google Business Suite, and so much more.
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This post was originally published April 2015. It was last updated on April 29th, 2021.