Google vs. Bing Battle Continues, Users Should Benefit In the End

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The Google vs. Bing search wars continues to rage on, and there's no reason to assume it will go away anytime soon. More and more takes on the subject are coming out, and the storyline is getting more dramatic with each addition. 

For example, Kara Swisher at AllThingsD thinks Google's position here stems from co-founder Larry Page's migration to CEO (though not official until April).  "Reading the tough quotes and later blog post by Amit Singhal–quite possibly the sweetest dude at Google–accusing Bing of cheating, it felt like he was channeling Page’s very clear and nerdily indignant voice again," she wrote. "In a nutshell: We have data to prove Microsoft's stealing. Look at our detailed proof from our complex sting. We are outraged by this violation of geek code. Don’t you lay people get it?!?"

"I would wager that we're about to see a lot more of this pugnacious, in-your-face tone from Google under Page’s leadership, which could have far-reaching implications for the company," she speculated. 

Another angle to the story is that this has been Google's way of diverting attention away from the flack its taken recently over the quality of its search results. 

"Both sides have strong views and believe they are right," writes Vivek Wadhwa, who moderated the panel where Matt Cutts and Harry Shum argued about the situation (see video below).  "In opening the debate, I said that, as a professor, I can’t condone any kind of plagiarism or cheating—and that is what Microsoft’s usage of Google data seems to amount to. But in the tech world, such information exchange is the norm. Everyone cheats and this may be a good thing for innovation. So there is no black and white here. Both sides are right and they are wrong."

"The one thing that is clear is that Google pulled off a huge PR coup. It changed the topic," adds Wadhwa.   "Media coverage isn’t about spam and how Google profits from this any more; we are debating how valuable Google’s search results are." 

I should point out that in our own coverage of the events, I noted that Bing was engaging in the same lack of content farm policing as Google. To me, it's not so much a matter of Google having the better results and Bing piggybacking. The interesting thing to me is that Google's own search quality has been questioned so much lately, and if Bing isn't doing any better, that's a problem for search at large. The real winner in this search war could be Blekko, who has taken action on content farms. It's a pretty big stretch to say Blekko is poised to garner a huge share of the search market here, but this thing couldn't have hurt from a PR standpoint. 

Matt Cutts has posted yet more words on the Google vs. Bing debate, reiterating points he made  in the video above, but in a more detailed way. Read the post for all the specifics. He concludes with, "Since people at Microsoft might not like this post, I want to reiterate that I know the people (especially the engineers) at Bing work incredibly hard to compete with Google, and I have huge respect for that. It's because of how hard those engineers work that I think Microsoft should stop using clicks on Google in Bing's rankings. If Bing does better on a search query than Google does, that's fantastic. But an asterisk that says 'we don't know how much of this win came from Google' does a disservice to everyone. I think Bing's engineers deserve to know that when they beat Google on a query, it's due entirely to their hard work. Unless Microsoft changes its practices, there will always be a question mark."

If nothing else, the whole thing is going to make the search-related conferences fun this year, as Google and Bing will no doubt continue to take jabs at each other. While some have shrugged the debate off as childish, if it leads to the two main search competitors trying to one-up each other in terms of search quality, users should benefit either way. That is if they haven't all started using Blekko.

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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