Search engine alphabet

This post isn’t strictly about economics. It’s more an account of how I whiled away a lazy Saturday morning, typing random letters into search engines. But I’m obviously in good company. Even Hal Varian, author of the classic text Intermediate Microeconomics and, for economics students who want even more microeconomics, Microeconomic Analysis, likes playing around with Google search results.

The “autocomplete” function on search engines often provides odd suggestions which many other people have, presumably, searched for. So when I start typing “why” into, the first suggestion that comes up is “why is the sky blue?”. Good question. The same suggestion comes up on But on, the second suggestion is “why is my poop green?”, whereas on, it’s “why do we yawn?”. I fear this may speak volumes about the health of people on the other side of the Atlantic.

On Saturday morning, I decided to see what suggestions Google and Bing would come up with for different letters of the alphabet for searches in the UK.

In many cases, Bing and Google come up with the same top suggestions. But it would be interesting to know if anyone has done some analysis of the characteristics of Bing users versus Google users, because on this very limited and much too small sample, it looks like:

1) Bing users can’t spell “Youtube”.

2) Bing users are keener on games – Club Penguin and both make an appearance. Google users aren’t so keen on fun. Unless it’s of the XBox variety. Which is mildly amusing, given that Xbox is made by Microsoft, which also owns Bing.

3) Google users search less for the Daily Mail. But subsequent starvation of inane celebrity gossip leads them gasping to search for “Kate Middleton”, which isn’t even in the top seven suggestions on Bing.

4) Bing users haven’t yet realised that if you already know the web address of facebook, there’s no point searching for it.

  Google UK Bing UK
A Argos Argos
C Currys Club Penguin
D Debenhams Daily Mail
E Ebay Ebay
F Facebook Facebook
G Google Google
H Hotmail Hotmail
I ITV player ITV
J John Lewis John Lewis
K Kate Middleton
L Lloyds Lloyds TSB
N Next Next
O O2 Orange
P Paypal Plentyoffish
Q Quidco QVC
R Rightmove Rightmove
S Sky Sky news
T Tesco Tesco
U Ucas Utube
V Virgin Vodafone
W Weather
X Xbox x factor
Y Youtube Youtube
Z Zara Zoopla
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