Google Says Bing is Stealing Their Results

Bing: Powered by Google?

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We all know that Bing is now powering Yahoo’s search results, but a very interesting finding from Danny Sullivan indicates that Google may be powering Bing’s search results, at least to some extent. No, this is not in any partnership kind of way like Bing’s relationship with Yahoo. 

Google has apparently busted Bing copying their search results. Entirely? No, but Google ran a "sting operation" as Sullivan calls it, that seems to show Bing stealing at least top results from Google, by monitoring how Internet Explorer and Bing toolbar users use Google.

Google created some test search results pages returning results for queries that nobody would ever search for, and results that wouldn’t make sense for such queries. For example, a query for "hiybbprqag" would return a top result from TeamOneTickets. A query for "mbzrxpgjys" would return RIM’s homepage. A query for " indoswiftjobinproduction" would return a result for Sandra Lee Recipes at FoodNetwork.com. 

"The only reason these pages appeared on Google was because Google forced them to be there," explains Sullivan. "There was nothing that made them naturally relevant for these searches. If they started to appear at Bing after Google, that would mean that Bing took Google’s bait and copied its results."

And that appears to be what happened, as Sullivan points to Bing’s results mirroring each of these examples. It’s worth noting that Google found that only a handful of the pages tested proved the point but the ones that did seem to prove a pretty big one. 

The whole thing is pretty interesting, considering the amount of criticism Google’s own search results have received in recent months – some regarding content farms, and some not. Bing does still rank eHow as the top authority for a "level 4 brain cancer" query (like Google).

Bing Brain Cancer result

What’s even more interesting, is that Bing hasn’t come out and denied any of this, and depending on how you interpret their response, it could even be seen as a near confirmation. Here’s what Bing Director Stefan Weitz told WebPronews (essentially the same thing he told Sullivan):

"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." 

So yeah, I guess what people are clicking on in Google results is a pretty good indication of how people interact with search, given that Google holds such a dominant share of the search market. However, as a competitor, this wouldn’t seem to be the most helpful strategy for providing better results.  

To be fair, we don’t know all of Google’s own ranking signals (because they won’t reveal them), so who’s to say Google isn’t looking at search activity in Bing? Well, Google says they’re not, flat out, if Google’s word is good enough for you.

Bing isn’t copying Google’s search results entirely…just the ones they think users want the most for such queries, which is apparently the results Google is providing.  Sullivan offers a great deal more analysis of the situation, and looks at more in depth into how Microsoft may be obtaining the Google ranking signals.

Sidenote: Internet Explorer owns 56% of the web browser market, according to a new report from Net Applications.


It was clear from the beginning of Bing’s existence that it was a direct competitor to Google, but as much of the conversation has turned to Facebook and Apple has Google’s arch rivals, Google has continued to maintain that Bing is indeed its main competitor. Bing getting the Yahoo deal that was almost Google’s no doubt left a bitter taste in Google’s mouth, and Bing recently joined the FairSearch coaltion to try and block the company’s proposed acquisition of ITA software. 

At the time, Adam Kovacevich, Google Sr. Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs told WebProNews, "I’m not sure there are any surprises here. Microsoft is our largest competitor and lobbies regulators against every acquisition we make."

Bing may be copying Google search results, but Google has certainly done its share of Bing copying (see design changes that have occurred since Bing’s launch, including the addition of the left panel, homepage photos, and image search scrolling features). 

Google Says Bing is Stealing Their Results
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  • Rob DS

    Google found this by testing weird search result whilst using Bing toolbar.

    Bing toolbar however is ment to improve peopl search results by associating their search results and their surfing behaviour.
    So by altering the behaviour of people using bing toolbar Google is learning Bing that that is the way people search.

    Bing is studying people search behaviour and Google is modifying peoples search behaviour. As Google is so dominant their search behaviour influence will automatically leak into Bing that is moniotoring how people behave on the web.

    It is naive from Google to think they can manipulate peoples search behaviour and not have it influence other search engines that are watchng people to improve theri own search behaviour.

    The effect is of course most obvious in search term that are non existetn on the web because googles influence on those terms is biggest. They suggest sites after typo’s and thus make people move to sites after they have just typed nonexistent words.
    Bing toolbar picks up that behaviour and then Bing starts to do the same as it recognizes user patters in search.

  • http://www.getfoundmarketing.com Brian

    I really can’t see how this should be a big surprise to anyone, that any of these search engines are “borrowing” from one-another. In my opinion, when you look at the introduction of map results for example, didn’t Yahoo and Big look almost identical to Google? Simply looking at features and types of searches that are available on each engine, makes one wonder if the engineers at each search engine haven’t been getting together over the years, playing some poker and swapping ideas. Some of this uniformity does work in the favor of website owners by standardizing what they need to do to get visibility. So maybe the real question to ask; is how does this affect a website owner? Is research by each search engine to create similar results a good thing or bad thing? There are obviously good reasons to argue for both sides of that question.

  • http://movadowomenswatch.com Manuel

    You know bing is guilty when they don’t have anything to comment about this issue…

    • http://webpronnews.com bev

      its true bing is stealing googles stuff like web image but google is better and no thats not true

  • http://webpronnews.com bev

    bing is guilty bye stealing google lets boycott bing im done im boycottin

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