Bing VP Defends Microsofts Search Practices

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-02-01 Print this article Print


Shum said Bing search results that appeared to mimic Google's were outliers, or coincidental examples, and denied that Microsoft is copying Google results. Cutts disagreed, noting that Google found the examples of overlap in popular queries.

Shum confirmed that it culls and uses Web browsing data customers as one of more than 1,000 different signals and features in its ranking algorithm.

Shum provided more detail in a blog post published during the roundtable, noting:

"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."

Shum also said that other search engines rely on this "collective intelligence" practice, an assertion that Cutts "categorically" denied.

Shum, who compared Google's synthetic searches with spam and click fraud, noted that he wished Google had approached the Bing team with its concerns before airing them to the press and offered to compare search signals and algorithms with Google.

"What we saw in today's story was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking," Shum added in his blog." "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 dialogue between Cutts and Shum eventually devolved into a he-said, he-said dead-end, prompting moderator Vivek Wadhwa to move the discussion to spam on search engines.

What's remarkable about the exchange is that it's the first very public grievance aired between Google search and Microsoft Bing engineers since Bing appeared in June 2009.

Then again, perhaps it's not so remarkable considering little has changed in the market since Bing arrived. Bing rallied to gain a few percentage points of share while Google completed 2010 with its highest ever search plot, at 66.6 percent, according to comScore.


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