Bing Sting fight

Google
has accused Microsoft of cheating, following an investigation known as the
‘Bing Sting’.

Google
engineers created 100 nonsensical queries such as “hiybbprqag” and
inserted a fake result for each.

Within
weeks, the same results began to appear on its rival Microsoft’s Bing search
engine.

Microsoft
denies copying Google and accused Google of conducting
“spy-novelesque stunts”.

Harry
Shum, vice president of Bing, said: “We do not copy Google’s search
results. We use multiple signals and approaches in ranking search
results,” he added.

“Opt-in
programs like the toolbar help us with click stream data, one of many input
signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites,” he added.

Bing returned the same result for
‘hiybbprqug’

But Google’s Amit Singhal told
industry blog SearchEngineLand.com that it was “plain and simply cheating” and he detailed the sting operation in a long blog post.

He
said Google decided to conduct its experiment after mis-spelt words and results
were replicated on Bing.

“A
search for ‘hiybbprqug’ on Bing returned a page about seating at a theatre in
Los Angeles. As far as we know the only connection between the query and result
is Google’s result page,” he said.

“We
noticed that URLs from Google search results would later appear in Bing with
increasing frequency,” he went on.

He
concluded that Microsoft was gathering data on what people search for on
Google, via either Internet Explorer or the Bing Search toolbar.

“Some
Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google
results – a cheap imitation,” he said.

Danny Sullivan, a search engine
expert, has mixed feelings about what the experiment shows.

“On
the one hand you could say it’s incredibly clever. Why not mine what people are
selecting as the top results on Google as a signal?” he wrote on his blog.

But
he also said he had sympathy for Google’s view that Bing is doing something
wrong.

“Every
search engine has its own ‘search voice’, a unique set of search results that
it provides, based on its collection of documents and its own particular method
of ranking those.

I
think Bing should develop its own search voice without using Google’s as a
tuning fork,” he added.

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