No doubt by now you will have heard about the nerd fight going on between Google and Bing. Popcorn has been thrown back and forward all week as each side responds in a war of words that represents something like, “My dad can beat up your dad”.
Google accused Bing of copying search results after suspecting unethical practice and setting up fake search results to see if they were copied. It seems they were and the sting operation was successful.
Matt Cutts and crew went around pointing algorithms at the Microsoft engineers laughing like schoolboys who’d just
seen a friend kissing a girl, only to be shocked when Bing claimed that the results showed little more than a lesson in how to commit “click fraud”. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s Senior VP of Online Services, determined to have the last word, spat back at Google like a viper:
“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. Google engaged in a “honeypot” attack to trick Bing. In simple terms, Google’s “experiment” was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as “click fraud.” That’s right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know. As we have said before and again in this post, we use click stream optionally provided by consumers in an anonymous fashion as one of 1,000 signals to try and determine whether a site might make sense to be in our index.”
As the school kids fight it out, one thing is clear, Bing have come off well out of this. Why? Because many people who know nothing much of search outside of Google now know Google has a major competitor. Mark my words, Bing searches will escalate in the wake of this argument. The other side of the coin is that Google have made it obvious that they fear Bing. I mean if they didn’t then why would they invest time in trying to smear Bing’s reputation, or are they simply exposing unethical practice?
In truth this proves nothing, because Bing readily admit their users’ activity in Google affects their search results, but then so do a thousand other factors. Bing claim that if you do a search for a term that makes no real sense in English, and Google has created a fake search result for that term, Bing is likely to give you those fake results, too.
I fear that Google have made a huge unfounded accusation based on a manipulated test that is speculative at best, and anyway who cares if Bing copied a few search results, we all know Google is the definitive search platform so why wouldn’t a competitor replicate their practice.