Google vs. Microsoft Bing Search APIs: A Detailed Comparison

This is part two of a two-part article covering the current state of Web search APIs. Please be sure to check out part one. 

The first part of this article covered the state of Web search APIs and how there are not a lot of options for developers when it comes to Web search APIs. The ProgrammableWeb directory lists over 800 APIs in the Search category, but few of these are feature-packed web search APIs like those offered by Google and Microsoft. Part two of this article takes a detailed look at the Web search tools and APIs provided by Google and Microsoft for developers.

This is not a comprehensive comparison of Google and Microsoft Bing search tools and APIs. What this article does compare are some of the Web search features Google and Microsoft have made available via APIs.

Article Sections

There are three main sections to this article. Readers can page down to the specific sections they are interested in:

  • Overview of Google Search Tools/APIs
  • Overview of Microsoft Bing Search APIs
  • Google vs. Microsoft Bing Search APIs – Feature Comparison Charts

Overview of Google Search Tools/APIs

Google provides several Web search APIs that are available via Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) and Google Site Search. Google also recently released the Google Knowledge Graph Search API.

Google Custom Search Engine (CSE)

Screenshot showing Google CSE search results for

Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) can be used by developers to add Web search and/or site search capabilities to a website, blog, or collection of websites that they can control via Google Search Console/Webmaster Tools. Google CSE can also be used to create a custom search engine that focuses on a specific topic returning search results from multiple URLs. Google CSE features a RESTful API that returns search results data in JSON or Atom format.

Google Custom Search Engine is free for up to 100 search queries per day. Additional queries can be purchased ($5 per 1,000 queries) and the maximum number of queries allowed per day is 10,000.

Google Site Search

Screenshot showing search results returned for using Google Site Search demo.

Google Site Search is part of the Google for Work suite of cloud-based productivity, organization, and collaboration tools. Google Site Search can be used by developers to add a custom site search box that leverages many of the features of the Google search engine Platform. Developers can customize the look and feel of the search results and create custom Rich Snippets to showcase specific details such as image thumbnails, ratings, document types, authors, multimedia access, and add-to-cart buttons. Other Google Site Search features include date biasing, label refinements, synonyms, promotions in autocomplete, and more. Google Site Search features two APIs; one that returns search results data in JSON or Atom and the other returning search results data in XML.

Google Site Search is the paid version of Google CSE and the lowest priced paid plan at this time is $100/yr for 20,000 search queries/year.

Google Knowledge Graph Search API

Google released the Google Knowledge Graph Search API (read-only) at the end of last year and the API can be used to search for entities (people, places, and things) in the Google Knowledge Graph. The types of entities that can be retrieved include (but not limited to) book, movie, music group, organization, person, place, TV series, and website.

The Google Knowledge Graph Search API is free to use (there are no paid plans at this time) and the maximum number of API calls per day (per project) is 100,000.

Overview of Microsoft Bing Search APIs

Microsoft recently released updated versions of Bing Search APIs (v5) that include new features and improvements. Microsoft has also released new individual Bing Search APIs (image search, video search, news search, and autocomplete) that include additional features not available in the Bing Web Search API. Bing Search APIs are RESTful and responses are returned in JSON.

Be sure to read the next Search article: Developers Choices Are Few When it Comes to Web Search APIs