I was fashionably late to see The Amazing Spider-Man, the recent movie reboot of one of Marvel’s core characters. I’m a huge Marvel fan (reprehensible nerd, in normal-people speak) so it was pretty odd that I didn't see it in the theater. I just never got around to it until the other night. The movie was good overall, but one thing stuck out to me. Spider-Man is a scientific genius, but in the film he uses Bing whenever he’s doing research. The bizarre and obsessive nature of a search marketer’s brain means that I can’t help but notice and dwell on something like that. Logically I know that Microsoft paid a lot of money to have Bing prominently featured in the wall-crawler’s new feature film, but I think it goes deeper than that. Why does Peter Parker use Bing?
Google vs. Bing
As a general rule, link builders work to get their clients on the first page of Google. It’s not that we don’t care about Bing; it’s just that it’s often an afterthought. The client wants results on Google. Google is the best and the biggest, but if we’re being objective—Bing’s not bad. Some months ago some coworkers and I took a ‘blind test’ to see if we liked Google more or if we liked Bing more. We know Google pretty well, so it was relatively easy to tell which results were which. I was as honest as possible with the test, and I found that I liked Bing’s results better a little less than half of the time. It was almost half. Bing is almost as good as Google. That’s something we can’t ignore.
Despite how good Bing looked in that test, we have inherent prejudices. Some people dislike Microsoft, some people are slavishly devoted to Google and some people just can’t say “Bing” with a straight face. We’re biased. It turns out, though, that Spider-Man can say “Bing” with a straight face—and he’s Spider-Man, for the love of Pete! Even though the only reason Spider-Man uses Bing is because of some deal made in a Hollywood boardroom, I thought it was pretty charming. I focused on it. Why does Spider-Man use Bing? It might just be because it’s something different.
Bing delivers search results, but it’s at least a bit different from Google. Some people value that. Though businesses undeniably get more traffic from The Big G, Bing isn't a direct clone of its competitor. That’s big now, and that’s what they’re going for.
The new Blackberry (and its QWERTY-having little brother), for instance, prides itself on being different from the iPhone and the Galaxy, but it also provides all the necessary features of a modern smartphone. Research in Motion knows that the competition is fierce, so they’re doing their best to separate themselves from the pack. They’re an underdog, but they’re not just a smaller clone of the iPhone. The phone might be a powerhouse someday-- and who knows, Bing could be as well.
Spider-Man is popular because he’s an underdog character. Even though he’s super strong, super agile and super smart, he doesn't always come out on top. He has girl problems. He has an aging aunt he has to worry about. He can’t always make ends meet. He’s not larger than life-like Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine and Thor are—he has everyday problems vexing him at every turn. He might always end up victorious when it comes to taking on the Sinister Six, but he’s an underdog in the grand scheme of things. I think it’s charming for Spidey to use Bing because it shows two likable underdogs working together.
Much like the new Blackberry, Spider-Man is also different. Until relatively recently, he was never an Avenger or a team member. He did his own thing and he was (and still is) totally different from every other superhero. In that spirit, it makes sense that he might use Bing since Google is for 'joiners.’ That’s all fine and good in the superhero realm, but I’m glad that Spider-Man’s not my link builder. We can't totally disregard Bing, and it should factor into any search marketer’s strategy. As long as clients are seeking first page results on Google, however, Google is where the focus will lie. Link building is also a team effort—content creators need to work together with their clients colleagues, as well as webmasters and blog owners.
Link builders can help underdogs succeed. You might think of a good link building firm like you’d think of Spider-Man’s web-shooters—a tool he uses to carry out his goals. What would Spider-Man be without his web-shooters? He certainly wouldn't be an A-list superhero.
The takeaway from all of this is that link builders aren't superheroes. A link builder is like the web-shooter or even the radioactive spider—that necessary extra something that helps push a client’s business toward its full potential. Spider-Man uses Bing because it works for his purposes and it gels with his reputation. He might shun Google, but when the Lizard is rampaging through the Brooklyn sewers or everyone in Manhattan gets infected with alien symbiotes, Spidey’s the man for the job. He can use Bing, strike out on his own all he wants to. We link builders, though—we’ll take Google into consideration as well. And we always work as a team.