The battle for world search engine dominance enters a new phase this month with the arrival of a new ‘health’ search capability from Microsoft’s Bing, which seeks to challenge Google’s seemingly impenetrable global position. With health being one of the most commonly searched-for topics online, this could represent a very smart competitive move!
For those spending regular time researching health diagnoses or specific medical information (see our recent blog on ‘cyberchondriacs’), Bing does offer the potential to introduce some changes to their web search style. The .com community state Bing prioritises nine trusted and verified medical resources – such as the Mayo Clinic – as the basis of its search capabilities, making it easier to find results that can be trusted.
The declaration that Bing joins Yahoo in the war against the ‘ten blue links’ approach to reporting search results does not in fact appear to be the case in reality! But what Bing does offer is a Quick Preview feature giving text based summaries of pages displayed in the search results. An Explorer Pane also allows quick access to symptoms, causes and treatments.
Bing offers good practical features to support general health searches – but cannot surpass Google’s unique health strategy which offers the potential for secure and private storage of medical records, easy reference to relevant health information and connection to service providers. This personal, secure medical storage capability could gain greater attention as the Federal Government make moves mid-year to integrate and digitise medical records. Discussion has already commenced on the security of the new national identity system – a key component of this new legislation.
So will health prompt the masses to start ‘Binging’ instead of ‘Googling’? Some say if Microsoft continues to make ongoing improvements and embark on a massive advertising initiative, Bing does stand a chance in converting more than an impressionable few! Watch this space.