Fred Aun at clikz.com reports an observation that Microsoft’s re-branded and overhauled search engine Bing seems to be going after “quality” rather than quantity of PPC ad displays. In a test of keyword searches, Bing consistently showed fewer (and subjectively, more relevant) ads on the front page as compared to live.com (Microsoft’s previous search engine). Aun’s conversations with Microsoft’s Bing representatives led him to believe that this is intentional as Bing seeks to differentiate itself from Google (as a “decision engine” as opposed to just a “search engine”).

Aun quotes an AdGooroo report that hails Microsoft’s decision as “a boon for paid search advertisers, who have far less competition to deal with.” But who’s getting the boon? Apparently it’s the big guys; Microsoft brags about adding Dell, Sears, Hotels.com, Marriott and Home Depot to its roster of advertisers. Fewer slots on the front page means the front page goes to those with pockets deep enough to buy their way on.

This would seem to imply that the advent and initial (relative) success of Bing** means that Google AdWords is even more important for the small advertiser. Correction: the smart small advertiser, the one who knows what he’s doing (or is smart enough to hire someone who does) will be working even harder at getting Google right. Yes, it’s much harder to get to the top in Google because of the number of competitors, but the good news is that Google is still the place where, like the young American child told anyone can grow up to be President, anyone willing to put in the effort and educate themselves to be better than the competition can still rise to the top.

*Quo vadis is Latin for “where are you going?”

**Microsoft’s share of the search engine market increased from 0.3% to 6.5% after the introduction of Bing. It remains to be seen if this will maintain or increase, or if it is similar to Wolfram Alpha’s impact (“let’s look at it because it’s new, but then back to Google”).

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SEO Google vs. Bing: Quo Vadis* Small Advertiser?