Report: Google claims Bing is copying its search results

Who knew the world of search engines was filled with such suspense and intrigue? Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land has published a rather interesting piece about a "sting operation" Google ran to determine if Bing was aping its search results. The results of the operation appear damning, as does Microsoft’s official response quoted in the story.

I recommend reading the article for all the dirt and details, but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Google, which prides itself on having the best misspelling correction system around, noticed that Bing was showing awfully similar top results for misspelled searches. Suspecting foul play, Google manually inserted a "honeypot" page as the top result for 100 "synthetic" searches that actual, real-world users would be highly unlikely to carry out. Allegedly, Bing started producing identical results for some of those searches within a couple of weeks.

The response from Bing Director Stefan Weitz does little to exculpate Microsoft. Weitz told Sullivan, "Opt-in programs like the [Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites. This ‘Google experiment’ seems like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of these signals." Not much of a denial, is it?

Sullivan’s story makes it clear that Google isn’t happy with what Microsoft is doing, but it stops short of revealing what the search giant plans to do about the matter. Whatever happens, I can’t help but feel like we’re reaching a sort of convergence in web search, now that Yahoo uses Bing for its results, and Bing is possibly aping Google.

Comments closed
    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    The conclusion in the article linked above is based on results from 10 million U.S. internet users over two months.

    Your conclusion is based on a single individual saying “google seems better.”

    Which conclusion is based on better evidence?

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    You use commas incorrectly. Your argument must be wrong.

    I think this was worth pointing out.

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    Your “proof” means very little. I could just as well argue that two years ago 95% of people used Google, and 5% used something else. Now, 70% is using Google, 25% using Bing. Google has been losing market share to Bing – clearly that means Bing is far superior, it just takes a while for people to learn about its superiority.

    Now that being said, could you please point me to an independent study that compares the two search engines using quantifiable metrics?

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    My god, is [b<]this[/b<] the way you position yourself in the debate? Someone justifiably questions your 'evidence', and you ignore their argument because of a typo, saying the typo is "worth pointing out"? How the hell was it worth pointing out?!?

    • raddude9
    • 12 years ago

    My proof: 70% of people use google and only 25% use bing, if bing was better then more people would use it.

    [quote<]there have been times when Google was super slow, while Bing's been super fast every time I've tried.[/quote<] I never said google was faster, it's never been slow for me personally though. I was only talking about the quality of the results which for me have always been better with google.

    • raddude9
    • 12 years ago

    Some people are stupid unfortunately, nothing I can do about that.

    Where is this evidence then? Your link above is in no way shape or form evidence of any kind.

    My evidence is that every single search I’ve ever done with both search engines has resulted in google giving better quality results than bing, that’s why I prefer google. If bing starts giving better results I’ll switch.

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    Show me proof of Google’s superior quality, and I’ll take you seriously.

    Personal experience: there have been times when Google was super slow, while Bing’s been super fast every time I’ve tried.

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    Losing your cool is uncool.

    Don’t take it so seriously – it’s not like this really matters…

    • willmore
    • 12 years ago

    “I have an idea to make Bing better!”

    “What is it?”

    “Let’s copy Google’s searches!”

    “Brilliant!”

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    first of all, we’ll done. you’re correct. I did use the wrong “you’re”, and good on you for calling me on it ๐Ÿ˜‰ however, i wasn’t calling people stupid….

    That’s fine, that you prefer google. I don’t really care, personally. I generally find what I want using either. I just don’t get the “bing sux, and google is better” thing, when there is so much contrary evidence.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    I was going to say… what grounds does he have for saying MS is the worst tech company?!??! they’re one of the best, imo. they’re much better in the developing countries, allow for an open ecosystem, and they put their privacy policies out there, and they’re much better than the competition.

    • jstern
    • 12 years ago

    Thanks, but what I meant wasn’t the instant, but after you do a search, you can’t just scroll down the page smoothly anymore, instead, it jumps from result to result with this little arrow.

    On another note, I’m back to using Google, to used to it over Bing.

    Edit: I just turn off instant, you were right.

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    Turn off “instant” next to the search box.

    Or disable javascript for google.

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    Apple today is inherently more evil than Microsoft in the peak of Monopoly. There, I said it.

    • Farting Bob
    • 12 years ago

    Google may or may not be watching like a benevolent overlord, but i would not go and say that MS (you know, that most evil of tech companies) is the better option to be using when searching for weird fetish porn or windows 7 cracks.

    • raddude9
    • 12 years ago

    [quote<]that being said, your giving anecdotal evidence. the fact is, most people find a site that's worth clicking on with Bing. Deal with it.[/quote<] How about some proofreading yourself, you should have said: [quote<]that being said, [b<]you're[/b<] giving anecdotal evidence[/quote<] Normally I let basic errors and typos go but I thought it was worth pointing out your error in this case. And I never even implied that people do not find sites worth clicking on with bing. All I said was that google gives better results. Every time I compare results directly (something I have done a number of times) bing comes out second best.

    • blastdoor
    • 12 years ago

    What happens if Google starts aping results from Bing? Would that create a singularity that would wipe out the entire Internet?

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    those enginge’s. they’re trouble. proofread…..

    that being said, your giving anecdotal evidence. the fact is, most people find a site that’s worth clicking on with Bing. Deal with it.

    • travbrad
    • 12 years ago

    A simple google search for “search modifiers” returned what he is looking for. Plus there’s the “help” link

    It sounds like he wants the impossible to me (which is why no one has been able to do it). There are so many modifiers you can use, that it’s going to fill multiple pages even with a simple description of each one. You can only simplify things so far. When there are 100+ modifiers, there’s no easy way to put that in to the UI. It’s sort of similar to Excel/spreadsheets, in that you can use it with a very basic level of understanding, but can also do some fairly “advanced” things if you take the time to learn.

    • raddude9
    • 12 years ago

    [quote<]What would you use to gauge search results, if not successful click throughs?[/quote<] I use the quality of the results returned for a given search, google always returns better and more relevant results than bing (by the way, I do not like being dictated to by a corporation on when to use capitals and when not, I, as with my search engine choice, like to make up my own mind).

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    Thank you palek and Meadows! Much appreciated!!!

    • Meadows
    • 12 years ago

    Assume that Google is the “white person” and Bing is the “asian Anime character”.

    Google accuses Bing of trying to be white, whereas Bing really is just Bing.

    • jstern
    • 12 years ago

    After this story I decided to try out Bing, and I’m going to stick with it for a bit, since it scrolls down properly, rather than jumping from link to link as you press down. Is there anyway to disable that with Google?

    • Meadows
    • 12 years ago

    Let’s not confuse him with hotkeys and the like, I described it graphically, but I bow to your firstness.

    • Meadows
    • 12 years ago

    The address bar uses your “default search engine”. You need to set that, in order to make new tabs automatically search with Bing first, and make the address bar search using Bing (assuming you want that).

    Click the drop-down button on the left side of your search bar, you should see a selection like Google, Bing, Wikipedia, Whatever. Under those, click “Manage Search Engines…”
    Well done, Sweatshopking! Now select Bing in this Manage window that came up, and click “Edit…” A basic window will come up, but that’s no good, so you should roll out the “Details >>”.

    Tick the appropriate checkbox. Congratulations!

    • Palek
    • 12 years ago

    Go to preferences (Ctrl + F12), select Search tab, highlight Bing, press Edit, press Details, check “Use as default search engine”. Done!

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 12 years ago

    Harder than just typing Brazil, which google can figure out.

    That was just one example to illustrate how google gives better results anyways.

    • moog
    • 12 years ago

    Bing’s algos have improved a lot. When I first started yrs ago, it was crap and I would use goog. Today results are good and it’s rare that I’ve never had a need to refine my search. Typically if it can’t be found on bing it can’t be found goog.

    I think goog is just sour, but the bing team did not copy, worked fairly, and worked hard to get to where they are today.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    To be honest, I don’t care. If bing copies google’s search, which google releases free anyway, and uses it in its equations, to make my search better, great. I’m all for that.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    because it’s bing, people automatically assume it sucks. because it’s google, it’s automatically “search” and “search done right”.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    No. actually, i’m not trolling. What would you use to gauge search results, if not successful click throughs? Enlighten me. and when you call people stupid, you might want to make sure you spell “bing” correctly.

    I’m happy for your anecdotal evidence. And, as an opera user who is too stupid to change the default search ( I can change the one in the top right, but not the main url searchbar… if you know how meadows, of a way to do it, without requiring me to type “b” before i enter it, please let me know. thank you, your hotness), I still use google.

    • humannn
    • 12 years ago

    How hard is it to type “Brazil film” ?

    • jcw122
    • 12 years ago

    Impossible…Bing search results suck.

    • luipugs
    • 12 years ago

    how is this on topic? unless i’m missing a very obvious joke here.

    • no51
    • 12 years ago

    Here I go thinking that bing or google somehow displays the japanese charset weirdly.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 12 years ago

    Zing!

    • Metalianman
    • 12 years ago

    And to summarise most of the comments bellow, people favouring either Microsoft or Google fighting with each other about which is the best engine. Almost no talk at all about the fact that MS allegedly copied Google, in which case, MS that’s messed up even for you or the fact that Google actually noticed it. I guess Bing managed to take some of Google’s visitors away and that pissed them off!

    • raddude9
    • 12 years ago

    Someone smart enough to use an alternative browser AND who knows how to change the default search engine BUT does not pick their search engine based on the quality of the results…. a very rare breed indeed.

    I was making a generalization, not stating a mathematical theorem, isolated counter-examples prove nothing

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 12 years ago

    Well, I would trust Bing over Google anyday. Remember those stories last year where Google were accused of recording frequent searches on some key words to a users IP?

    They could eventually trace back to the end user via the ISP that issues the IP. Think twice about searching for your favourite torrenty sources.

    Google’s watching…!

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 12 years ago

    Agreed. I used Bing for about 3 months due to it’s superior privacy policy, but the results just weren’t good enough.

    It was really bad when searching things like movies which aren’t super popular, like Brazil, I would just get results about the country.

    • Meadows
    • 12 years ago

    I use Opera, so Google was the default search engine. So I switched it to Bing.

    Your argument just broke, Shirley.

    • raddude9
    • 12 years ago

    Don’t know why I’m replying, I know you’re just trolling. Anyway, that link says nothing about the quality of search results, it only illustrates that people who use bing are stupid and they don’t know how to use a search engine properly. Which is easy to understand, because the only people who use bring are people who don’t know how to change their default IE search engine.

    I stand by my original comment, every time I directly compare the results of bing and google, google gives better results.

    • way2strong
    • 12 years ago

    [i<]This comment has been marked as spam and has been removed[/i<]

    • way2strong
    • 12 years ago

    “lol I don’t think both excluding a word and site is even available as a combination of options in the [b<]advanced search menu[/b<]." I think what he's asking for is an easy to find description of all the options available, as obviously even your advanced menu can't cover every command line option.

    • Corrado
    • 12 years ago

    Maybe they could get SMS messages to the right people on a consistent basis then ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Corrado
    • 12 years ago

    And I think thats why the color yellow makes me sad. ๐Ÿ™

    • Corrado
    • 12 years ago

    I know that the other 2 will return the same/similar results. I’m just venting that it sucks and makes me sour on Google more than Bing or Yahoo… mainly because I don’t use Bing or Yahoo. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully they are able to weed it out effectively.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 12 years ago

    [url<]http://kotaku.com/5627268/why-do-japanese-characters-look-white[/url<] its on topic.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 12 years ago

    standing on the shoulders of giants is definately the tech industry in a sentence. Microsoft mugs the giant and stands in its place inviting others to stand on its shoulders.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 12 years ago

    There’s an “advanced” button that links to the advanced filters.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    speaking of babes!

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    you’re a jackwagon

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 12 years ago

    A collective shrug? Copying in business is good. Everyone should do it.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 12 years ago

    I think that bing only works well in very select “third party” instances. Googles ability to understand our BS typoes is what makes it the best. Apparently microsoft agrees.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    why don’t you dicks actually learn something, rather than just hitting the – button. you know i love it.
    [url<]http://www.aissolutions.ca/blog/bing-or-google-which-is-the-best-search-engine/[/url<]

    • potatochobit
    • 12 years ago

    you need to wait three weeks, then it will display the same results as google does today

    • 5150
    • 12 years ago

    So sick of that damn word from that stupid commercial.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 12 years ago

    A collective shrug? Copying in business is good. Everyone should do it.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 12 years ago

    [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFgiUm4lQig[/url<]

    • Meadows
    • 12 years ago

    A collective shrug? Copying in business is good. Everyone should do it.

    • cygnus1
    • 12 years ago

    I gave you a +1 for the use of jackwagon. are you by chance from TX? i’ve only heard one other person use that and he’s from TX

    • dpaus
    • 12 years ago

    Why would Google want to ruin it’s reputation?

    • flip-mode
    • 12 years ago

    Google should just copy Microsoft’s OS source code and release it as “Windroid”.

    • dpaus
    • 12 years ago

    Repetitive repetition is good?

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    A collective shrug? Copying in business is good. Everyone should do it.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    A collective shrug? Copying in business is good. Everyone should do it.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 12 years ago

    Are you in the SEO business? What you are referring to is what Google is specifically targeting in their next round of algo updates (almost annual at this point).

    There is an entire business surrounding copying content (without attribution) and selling ads (amongst other items) surrounding the results. All three links you have are all wonderful GoogleBot bait and its clear it bit onto them and served them real good.

    Why not compare the same search on yahoo and bing (wait, bings would be identical, lol)? I’m betting their native algo would ALSO rate these pages highly because of their SEO-friendliness.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    yep.

    • sweatshopking
    • 12 years ago

    despite the fact that most third party test show bing as having the best results?

    • StashTheVampede
    • 12 years ago

    To be fair, Yahoo had several features out before Google did (mail, news, sports, finance). MS has been caught red handed and should fess up sooner than later.

    • raddude9
    • 12 years ago

    I’m not sure if I believe this. If microsoft was copying their results then bing would actually return some decent results and it never has for me. Every time I compare their result bing always comes off second best.

    • poulpy
    • 12 years ago

    ^ What he said.

    You want good features to be adopted and improved, standing on the shoulder of giants style.
    And not copy/paste of the competitors’ results, exam cheating style.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    lol I don’t think both excluding a word and site is even available as a combination of options in the advanced search menu. How in the world would most people figure out that syntax? Most people don’t even know you can type anything but words to search in the bar to begin with.

    That is exactly the problem with search engines. The filtering never evolved to be any more user friendly.

    • Corrado
    • 12 years ago

    Because you still end up with aggregates. Thats the problem. I don’t mind the Amazon site itself. For example, I was trying to find a reputable review of the iPhone film I just ordered. I put in the name of the product and review. “Splash Masque Review”. I got 3 Amazon listings (fine) then:

    [url<]http://ipoddeals.webmonsterbiz.com/ipod-touch/splash-masque-screen-protector-film-clear-invisible-for-ipod-touch-4-4g-4th-generation-3-pack-newest-model-2/[/url<] [url<]http://hotproducts-review.com/sale/ipod/ipod-splash-masque-screen-protector-films-clear-invisible-for-apple-ipad-3-pack[/url<] [url<]http://applephonemarket.com/apple-ipad/splash-masque-screen-protector-films-clear-invisible-for-apple-ipad-3-pack.html[/url<] All they are are the Amazon description and a link to the Amazon page. Completely useless.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 12 years ago

    Google is copying good features of other engines while Bing is mining Google’s results. It isn’t an apples to apples comparison.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 12 years ago

    Google image search copied the Decision Engine image search.

    Google latest search results is copying the Decision Engine way of showing results.

    and don’t forget when Google failed to copy the great feature from the Decision Engine that always make me to return back to it: image background as default with facts about it.

    What are they crying about?

    • TheEmrys
    • 12 years ago

    Then why aren’t you doing an excluding search in google? just do a search like this

    product name -site:amazon.com

    Google will exclude everything from amazon.

    • Corrado
    • 12 years ago

    Regardless, Google is going to hell in a hand basket search wise anyways. Tired of searching for a product, and receiving 2 pages of sites that just aggregate Amazon’s data and reviews. I already looked on amazon, and I was seeing if it was less expensive elsewhere, jackwagon.

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    A collective shrug? Copying in business is good. Everyone should do it.

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