In an attempt to disprove the "Bing- it-on" challenge, a study finds Google still leads, but by a margin slimmer than expected.

According to comScore data, Google consistently handles the majority of desktop searches – around 67 percent of all monthly queries. Only 18 percent go through Bing. Given this finding, it’s natural to assume Google is the people’s preferred search engine for discovering online content. However, a new study by Ian Ayers and Yale Law students calls that presumption into question – kind of.

Initially, the study was designed with a simple premise – to prove or disprove the findings from the “Bing-it-on” challenge. The original campaign run by Microsoft asserted that participants preferred Bing two-to-one in a blind search test. Contrary to those findings, the Yale students found the split was much smaller when they tested a larger audience and controlled for different variables.

Here are some highlights from the study:

53 percent prefer Google, 41 percent prefer Bing and 6 percent are indifferent

– For all searches: 53 percent prefer Google, 41 percent prefer Bing and 6 percent are indifferent

– When participants were randomly assigned popular search terms : 55 percent prefer Google, 39 percent prefer Bing and 6 percent are indifferent

– When participants were allowed to select their own search terms: 57 percent prefer Google, 35 percent prefer Bing and 8 percent are indifferent

– When participants entered the searches suggested by Bing in Microsoft’s intial challenge: 47 percent prefer Google, 48 percent prefer Bing and 5 percent are indifferent.

This data shows Google is in the lead for all searches, but it takes the biggest gains in self-selected (organic) searches. Internet users prefer the answers Google provides when they are on the web, looking up specific information. However, they prefer Bing for the results Bing suggests, implying Microsoft’s search engine is successful at providing timely and tailored online content recommendations.

Google still reigns supreme, but it’s important for marketers to note the closing gap between the two. Brafton recently covered insights offered at SMX East, in which panelists suggested sustainable SEO can’t revolve around Google alone. The experts recommended diversifying content creation for cross-channel campaigns that safeguard brands’ ROI. Check out more from SMX in this article.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.