I am sure at this point many people have already developed their own opinions of bing and how it compares to Google. But, how do bing and Google compare in terms of search? I how found many differences so far and also talked to other people in the search industry who have shared their opinions.
First, the verticals. Bing considers themselves a 'decision making' engine more than just a search engine. They are focused on helping users make easier decisions in 4 verticals: shopping, travel, health and local. In my opinion people in these verticals will benefit from bing. Not necessarily because they will show you better results...but because as bing catches on and people learn more about the engine, more people will use it. I am not saying they are going to catch up on market share, just that people will try it out...and they may just like it. For instance, these are the results that show in both engines when I searched "chicken pox":
In this case I like bing better for a few reasons. Please note these are my personal opinions. First, when I am searching for health issues I would not want to be inundated with advertisements...I just want to know about the issue. Bing shows only 1 ad, while Google shows about 10. Yes...I know Google has more advertisers, but I have done several related searches and have not yet felt overwhelmed with ads on bing. Second, I really like the related searches on the left. I have found these to be extremely relevant when searching for health or travel related terms...which in turn I do think can help me make a decision. Third, I like the categories bing provides when searching for a specific ailment. Every time I searched a specific 'issue' it has offered me the category choices such as articles, symptoms, virus, etc. As far as the organic results themselves, I found both Google and bing to be relevant. Therefore, I can see traffic picking up, at least in these areas.
I did find this quite interesting...
I searched "PA SEO". I found that in this search, Google understood user intent better. (I cleared my cache and cookies and made sure I was not logged into either account before searching). Google understood that I was searching for something related to 'SEO' versus 'Paseo'. Why would bing combine the words? I assume because they are somewhat focused on travel, they thought I meant a place. Whatever the reason, they were wrong.
What are other 'search' people saying?
I have heard various opinions...but at a small conference last week, one person stated that bing was 'The most search friendly engine I have seen.' She went onto explain why and gave several examples of certain terms that her clients rank so-so in Google, but rank 1,2 or 3 in bing. In comparing our clients ranks between Google and bing, I found it very hit and miss. Sometimes the term would show in the same position, sometimes higher and sometimes lower. I could not find a concise pattern whatsoever. Hopefully we (or someone else) can find a pattern between the two in the near future.
As far as optimizing for bing...I have always said that we should NOT focus on just one engine because even though you may generate the most traffic from Google, any of the other engines could convert at a higher rate. Optimizing only for certain engines may make you lose out on sales. But, with Google still dominating the market, a lot of focus is geared that way. So I guess the short answer would be...optimize for bing as long as it doesn't harm your Google ranks (unless of course you find you are converting more in bing).
What about Paid Search?
As far as paid search goes I cannot give you an accurate answer as to which is better. Reason being, ROI is all that matters for paid. You are going to see different results based on your industry and your strategy. It was the same with Live...some clients achieve a high ROI in Google, but very low (or negative) in Live and vise versa. Paid search requires an adjustment to strategies based on performance. If you are not currently participating in bing paid search, try it out and you may just be surprised at the results.
Overall I think bing is an improvement over Live, but I doubt it will be true competition for Google. I actually like the appearance of bing better. There would be many benefits to having competition as far as search engines go. CPC's would hopefully lower, it would force the engines to continuously improve, and it will just give people actual options...which is always a positive. Please share your thoughts about bing!