As you may have already heard, recently Google and Microsoft have been involved in a “fight” over whether or not Bing, a popular search engine, created by Microsoft, is displaying search results that were taken from Google.
According to a post on Google’s official blog, this “battle” began with a search for “torsorophy”, which was a misspelling of “tarsorrhaphy”, a rare surgery that is performed on eyelids.
When this search, using the incorrect spelling, was performed on Google’s search engine, the misspelling was corrected and results were returned for the correct spelling of this surgical procedure. Google says that at the time of this search query, Microsoft’s Bing search engine did not return any results for the misspelled query.
However, later that summer, according to Google, Bing began returning the same result that appeared first in a Google search, but did not offer a corrected spelling for the word. Eventually, this began to occur more and more for many different kinds of search queries, including results that Google considered to be mistakes of their algorithms.
Due to Google’s suspicion of Bing copying their search results, Google decided to set up a “sting” operating, which they did by creating about 100 “synthetic queries”, which included words or strings of text that they did not expect a user to enter into the search engine. Then, for each of these “synthetic queries”, Google matched it with a legitimate webpage, which did not have anything to do with the original search text. This legitimate webpage would then be displayed as the top search result for one of the made up queries.
After doing this, Google gave 20 of their engineers a laptop, with a fresh install of Microsoft’ s Windows operating system, and using Internet Explorer 8, with the Bing toolbar installed, asked their engineers to enter the “synthetic queries” into Google and click on the results that Google matched with the query.
After a couple of weeks, Google stated that their results began to appear in Bing, using the same “synthetic queries” that Google created.
In a quote from the official Google Blog, Google states:
“As we see it, this experiment confirms our suspicion that Bing is using some combination of:
or possibly some other means to send data to Bing on what people search for on Google and the Google search results they click. Those results from Google are then more likely to show up on Bing. Put another way, some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results—a cheap imitation.”
However, Microsoft denies that they are stealing Google’s search results and in an blog post entitled “Thoughts on search quality”, Harry Shum, Ph.D., the Corporate Vice President of Bing, said:
“We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users.
To be clear, we learn from all of our customers. What we saw in today’s story was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking. It was a creative tactic by a competitor, and we’ll take it as a back-handed compliment. But it doesn’t accurately portray how we use opt-in customer data as one of many inputs to help improve our user experience.”
This is something that will be interesting to see how everything turns out. It appears as though both companies have their own side to the story, but what is really happening between Google and Bing?
For more information about this, you should check out this blog post from TechCrunch, this blog post from SeachEngineLand.com, as well as Google’s blog post regarding this issue, and Bing’s blog post regarding this.
What do you think about this issue? Please feel free to state your opinions in the comments!