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Wolfram Alpha and Bing: the search for the knowledge engine

Alex Christie

28 July 2010

Back in November 2009 Bing and Wolfram Alpha announced a partnership to include the “computational knowledge engine” results within Bing search results. The logic behind this was to improve Bing’s search offering for direct knowledge queries, for example “how much fat in an egg”, but how successful / useful has this partnership proven to be?

Wolfram Alpha result in Bing

Wolfram Alpha result in Bing

From a micro level, you can certainly see that the Wolfram Alpha results within Bing (fig 1) add a lot of value which is not available in Google. However, the success can only be judged on the macro level, in other words, how often are users searching for something on Bing which results in a Wolfram Alpha “answer” being included in the SERP?

Well, the CEO and founder of Tamar Tanya Goodin recently attended the TED Global in Oxford where she had an interesting chat with Conrad Wolfram (founder of Wolfram Alpha), who estimates that approximately 5% of all Bing search results were returned by the Wolfram Alpha search engine!

This is a fairly incredible stat, and, at a leap, may help to explain the continued increase in search engine market share being experienced by Bing, where market share in the US was increased from 12.1% to 12.7% from May to June.

As users become more experienced and comfortable using search engines, we are seeing the length of query strings increasing and users also expect to find what they are looking for instantly. With this in mind, has Bing aligned itself with a powerful ally?

Will Wolfram Alpha, the” knowledge engine”, help Bing, the “decision engine”, continue to eat into the market share of Google, the “search engine”!!

With one in three teenagers in the UK believing that Google ranks sites based on how truthful they are, you’d have to conclude that Bing and Wolfram Alpha have a lot of ground to make up…

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