The Blame-shifting Engines: Google And Bing Fuss!

Feb 5, 2011 | 1,919 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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Google is accusing Microsoft Bing of incorporating their (Google's) search results into Bing's. To this, Microsoft got back in denial, and to that, Google comes up with a proof. They say that some of their engineers have been conducting experiments for some time now, and based on the results of those experiments is going public with their accusation.

Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, in the post explains how it all started and what led to the experiment. Singhal said that it began in the summer of 2010 when they stumbled upon the search result for a term “tarsorrhaphy” (a rare surgical procedure on eyelids) which was misspelled as “torsorophy.” When searched in Google, the misspelled term “torsorophy” returned the correct spelling (tarsorrhaphy) and the corrected results for the search. Initially, the same search for the misspelled term “torsorophy” at Bing returned no results. However, later in the summer it (Bing) did return – the same first result that Google had returned, except without the spelling corrected.

Image 15 300x141 The Blame shifting Engines: Google And Bing Fuss!

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This raised questions; how could Bing return Google's first result without the correct spelling? Had Bing known the correct spelling, couldn't it have returned other more relevant results for the corrected query? Even more suspicious search results were noticed in the months that followed. Google found that Bing was returning their search results with even more frequency. Results for popular queries, rare or unusual queries and misspelled queries and even results that were considered errors of Google's algorithms (said Google) was found in Bing's.

Therefore to confirm their suspicion, Google began experimenting to dig out the facts. Around 100 “synthetic queries” like – hiybbprqag (queries that people will normally not type). The hiybbprqag query did not appear on the webpage, nor were there any links to the webpage with that query phrase. However, to this query the result at Bing turn out just as it was at Google.

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More similar results for such “synthetic queries” that Google reports are in the images below:

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A credit union link was inserted by Google as the result for this query – delhipublicschool40 chdjob, which soon appeared in Bing too.

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Another query for – juegosdeben1ogrande also returned the below link (in picture) in Google,

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and the same result (hip hop bling page link) in Bing.

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On the grounds of these results for their experiment, Google said that their suspicion was confirmed that either Internet Explorer 8's feature Suggested Sites or the Bing Toolbar or some other medium has been used by Microsoft to collect data on the queries run by users on Google and the search results they (users) click on Google.

Google, clearly not happy, goes on to call some of the results returned by Bing – a cheap imitation, half baked and dated form of Google's results. Meanwhile, Bing calls Google's accusations or “attack” a trick. Bing's Senior Vice President of Online Services Division, Yusuf Mehdi said “We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.,” in a Bing community blog post retorting with the same tone of denial.

Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Land, who did an extensive article on the matter concludes saying, “I think Bing should develop its own search voice without using Google’s as a tuning fork. That just doesn’t ring true to me. But I look forward to talking with Bing more about the issue and hopefully getting more clarity from them about what they may be doing and their views on it.”

Well here's hoping that this big fuss gets settled soon and that both the giants focus their attention on search quality instead of bickering, deviating from the real issue. After all it's about the search and not the engines.

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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail The Blame shifting Engines: Google And Bing Fuss!
4.thumbnail The Blame shifting Engines: Google And Bing Fuss!