Google catches Bing copying search results

By on February 1, 2011, 5:46 PM
Update: Bing has replied to these accusations outright denying Google's claims. We'll let you be the judge.

Search Engine Land has published an article detailing a "sting operation" that has led Google to accuse Bing of cheating on its search results. As the story goes, last year Google noticed that its competitor was showing very similar top results for misspelled searches. Suspecting shenanigans, the search giant manually placed a bogus page as the top result for 100 synthetic searches that few, if any people would actually enter (queries like hiybbprqag).

For the top results, Google inserted pages with no relevance to the search queries, so it would be pretty damning if Bing started showing the same results. Google thought Microsoft might have been copying results from data sent by Internet Explorer users, so it had a group of engineers run the test queries from IE with Suggested Sites and the Bing Toolbar enabled. Sure enough, less than two weeks later, some of the obscure results began appearing on Bing.


Microsoft promptly responded to the allegations in a blog post, calling the story 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," the Bing team said. "We all learn from our collective customers, and we all should."

"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," Microsoft explained. Is the company truly cheating though? Some say Bing is leeching off Google's innovation while others see Bing as a clever underdog. Where do you stand?




User Comments: 31

Got something to say? Post a comment
negroplasty negroplasty said:

Cheating if you ask me. The reason I use Google to search is because their results are relevant and get me where I need to go, with a few -filters and quotations here and there, granted, but better than any other engine I've tried to date.

Pretty convincing evidence as well...

aj_the_kidd said:

If this is the case whats the point of going to Bing if its going to give you the same results as Google

vipor231 said:

LOL its microsoft why doesn't this suprise me,they copied windows from apple and apple copied from xerox,not sure where xerox copied from though LOL

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I read Microsoft's blog post, and they pretty much (though indirectly) admitted they did "copy" Google.

Guest said:

if you can't beat'em, copy'em!

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

So i still have no reason to use bing? okay

kamz999 said:

SUCK IT!!! GOOGLE!!!

Cota Cota said:

I here stand to sue an one who eats rice krispies whit marmalade >:\

But i mean, is it really bad to let Microsoft screw around to Skyne..... Google?, i still give a capuchino about bing and who the hell uses bars on their explorer?

Emin3nce said:

Suck my google?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I here stand to sue an one who eats rice krispies whit marmalade >:\

But i mean, is it really bad to let Microsoft screw around to Skyne..... Google?, i still give a capuchino about bing and who the hell uses bars on their explorer?

This is mostly spelled correctly, but incoherent nonetheless.

Suck my google?
Is this real Aussie slang, or did you just make that up?

Emin3nce said:

Nothing to do with Aussie slang 'mate'... It was an ill-fated reply to kamz999. Though it was rudely intercepted by that charming chunk of charitable conversation by the lovely Cota.

Are you the internet police? >:3

Emin3nce said:

captaincranky said:

I here stand to sue an one who eats rice krispies whit marmalade >:\

But i mean, is it really bad to let Microsoft screw around to Skyne..... Google?, i still give a capuchino about bing and who the hell uses bars on their explorer?

This is mostly spelled correctly, but incoherent nonetheless.

Suck my google?
Is this real Aussie slang, or did you just make that up?

Actually, i probably should have quoted you, so that you can read your quote's within a quote. Yo dawg, how's internet policing going?

Guest said:

Microsoft are such douche bags. Remember when they sued some guy for having a website named MikeRoweSoft.com? I guess being similar isn't ok but blatant copying is! F U Microsoft! I'm putting a chip in my Xbox360, that will calm me down.

gobbybobby said:

lol guest. Such hate for Microsoft yet 95% of us use a microsoft product everyday (even if u didn't pay for it, Pirates)

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

At one time Microsoft was skyn... now is google... stop it it used to be fun but for a long couple of years IT HAS NOT BEEN.

Rant over... Microsoft, you have earned a couple million cracked windows to bug on.

mosu said:

it's the final proof that Microsoft is a consolidated company !More yoopies, no engineers and lots and lots of lawyers.(sadly, Sony corp is heading the same way...no more good ideas...)

Guest said:

I don't know about this but Google will be the next Microsoft. With its finger in every pie. Mark my words, mortals.

styks1987 said:

I am glad there is competition between these companies. I certainly do not want only one source for my searching ability. If you think about it, Google holds significant power on how it tailors search results. I might go as far to say, if they have tailored these results, how many other results are we unaware of.I am definitely not a fan of some of Microsoft's accomplishments but they have developed some GREAT pieces of software. They also have come up with a platform that most of the things we take for granted run on (like Crysis 2).

Macgyver56 said:

I believe Google. They created a very nice test case to determine whether Bing is 'sucking' results off Google. Based on the setup and the outcome, Bing does not seem to be truly searching the internet. They're searching other search engines. Might as well cut out the middleman and just use Google.

foreverzero89 said:

it's a search engine, they're free. i don't care.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Looks pretty bad for Bing here....But hey, who cares?

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

foreverzero89 said:

it's a search engine, they're free. i don't care.

I find something surprisingly insightful about this.

DokkRokken said:

So all the benefits of Google's accuracy without the increasing scaryness and omnipotence of Google? Ok!

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Many, if not most retail operations, price shop the competition, then bring their prices into line with those competitors.

I suppose that Bing, "shopping" their competition is understandable.

Whether they should be able to use the results could be the subject perhaps, of a college level semester in Ethics.

With that being said, let me apply, "Juvenile Delinquent Torrent Logic", to the issue.

Since Google still has the original "copy" of the search results, therefore "nothing has been stolen"! So therefore, Bing should be able to "download" all of Google's search results they choose to.

So now, why don't cha all go back to torrenting copyrighted programs, games, movies, and music, free of charge, and leave Google and Bing alone to fight it out amongst themselves.

aj_the_kidd said:

captaincranky said:

So now, why don't cha all go back to torrenting copyrighted programs, games, movies, and music, free of charge, and leave Google and Bing alone to fight it out amongst themselves.

I yi Captain, arrrrrrh

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I remember reading few years ago that Google it self used four (I think, correct me if I am wrong please) different tools to track user surfing/searches:

- Google toolbar (which does pretty much the same as Bing Tool bar may be more who knows)

- Google Desktop

- Gmail

- Google web accelerator

Now if MS is using Bing Toolbar to track such data, I wonder how this exonerate Google of the same crime in the first place. I think such claptrap is coming norm in despicable way so I wouldn't bother with Google's shenanigans.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Yup, if you hit Google docs, there's your Gmail address, staring you in the face.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well something even worse is, Google's toolbar has pretty damn good 'spying' capabilities built into it, which would continue to send every search you do (even the one executed on other search engines like Bing/Yahoo etc.), or every url you visit (with complete address down to even the picture(s) you may see on that page) to the Google even when you've disabled it ........ I couldn't find anything whether Google have corrected this, but frankly I doubt that they will do it. Now I've never installed any toolbars as such on any of my PCs/, and I am baffled that what kind of people would do it and for what reasons.

Note: Also, now that they have their own browser, I wouldn't be surprised if something of this sort is actually is in-built into it.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Captain, your avatar look much more funnier on cell

Sent from my GT-I9000 using Tapatalk

Guest said:

I tested it. I tried putting in the same nonsense words in both searches, and I got different results.

TJGeezer said:

macgyver56 said:

I believe Google. They created a very nice test case to determine whether Bing is 'sucking' results off Google. Based on the setup and the outcome, Bing does not seem to be truly searching the internet. They're searching other search engines. Might as well cut out the middleman and just use Google.

Actually, they're tweaking their findings based on data sent in voluntarily by IE users. No doubt Google does the same with clicks by Chrome users, whether or not they make that user feedback voluntary the way Microsoft does with its feedback.

I've never been a big fan of Microsoft, with their predatory practices, and I rarely use IE - but geez, people, pick your battles. Or are you saying Google ignores click-thru data from IE users? Once you set up an outlier sting, as Microsoft described it, how many clicks would it take to link those nonsense letters to a site? Any ten Google partisans with copies of IE set to send data to Bing who knew about the "sting" wouldn't need genuine users to make the connection for Bing. There probably weren't any, not with that unlikely search term.

Looks to me like a Google con job, not a "very nice test," and I don't see how Google comes out of this looking better than Microsoft. Just looks like sleazy PR to me.

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