Google has announced that Bing has been piggybacking off of their search results, using Google’s search results to augment their own, and they can prove it. After doing some regular maintenance work to correct some typographical errors in their search terms, the errors that Google corrected would lead to search results based on that correction. Programmers at Google noticed, however that Bing was returning the same search results, only without having to correct the typo.
The seeds of distrust were sewn, and Google set up an internal sting operation to prove what was already suspected. The “Bing sting” was a well thought-out plan to catch the search engine red-handed. Google would identify search terms that didn’t return results on either search engine. They used strange, unmistakable terms like “hiybbprqag,” and “mbrzxpgjys.” Then, they would manually program search results to appear for these strange terms on Google. Next, they had their own employees search for these specific terms from their home computers with a Bing web toolbar active.
Lo and behold, within a couple of weeks time, those same results were starting to appear on Bing. For example, a search for “mbrzxpgjys” would yield one result for the Research in Motion home page on Google and Bing, leaving little doubt as to what was going on.
Stefan Weitz, director of Bing, released a statement saying that, “We use multiple signals and approaches in ranking search results. The overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search so we can provide the most relevant answer to a given query. Opt-in programs like the toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites.”
Google released a statement leaving little doubt as to it’s stance on the issue.
“Our testing has concluded that Bing is copying Google Web search results. At Google we strongly believe in innovation and are proud of our search quality. We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there, from Bing and others–algorithms built on core innovation and not on recycled search results copied from a competitor.”
More testing and analysis is sure to take place in the coming weeks from Google, Bing, and anyone else who cares to investigate. It will be interesting to see what, if anything else, Bing has been borrowing from the competition.