Google is accusing Microsoft's Bing search engine of copying Google's Web-search results, just ahead of a major Microsoft search event.
Google officials are accusing
Microsoft's Bing of "copying" their Web-search results.
"Our testing has concluded
that Bing is copying Google Web-search results, and Microsoft doesn't deny
this," Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, wrote in a Feb. 1 e-mail to eWEEK. "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."
Singhal's e-mail came after a
Feb. 1 posting on the blog Search Engine Land
, which details a Google
"sting operation" into Bing's alleged scrutiny of Google searches. "As a result
of the apparent monitoring, Bing's relevancy is potentially improving (or
getting worse) on the back of Google's own work," the blog's Danny Sullivan
wrote in that posting. "Google likens it to the digital equivalent of Bing leaning
over during an exam and copying off of Google's test."
Search Engine Land's story appeared just as Microsoft gears up for a
high-profile event on the future of search, scheduled for 1 p.m. EST. That
event, billed as "Bing Presents Farsight 2011: Beyond the Search Box," was
supposed to feature a roundtable discussion with Singhal, Microsoft Corporate
Vice President Harry Shum, and Blekko co-founder and CEO Rich Skrenta.
Meanwhile, a Microsoft
executive's statement to Search Engine Land suggests Google has some influence
on Bing's search process.
"We use multiple signals and
approaches when we think about ranking, but like the rest of the players in
this industry, we're not going to go deep and detailed in how we do it," Stefan
Weitz, director of Bing Search, wrote
in a Jan. 31 statement to Search Engine Land
. "Opt-in programs like the
[Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and
other search engines use to help rank sites. This -Google experiment' seems
like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of those signals."
In a statement e-mailed to
eWEEK Feb. 1, a Microsoft spokesperson echoed Weitz's language.
"We use multiple signals and
approaches in ranking search results," read that statement. "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."
involved finding terms with no matches on Google or Bing, and then artificially
forcing "honeypot" pages to appear on the top of search results for those
terms. "The only reason these pages appeared on Google was because Google
forced them to be there," Sullivan wrote. "If they started to [appear] at Bing
after Google, that would mean that Bing took Google's bait and copied its results."
A few weeks later, only a
small number of Bing search results-seven to nine out of 100-seemed to mirror
Google's forced pages. "Google says it doesn't know why they didn't all work,
but even having a few appear was enough to convince the company that Bing was
copying its results," Sullivan added. "In cases where there are no signals
other than how Google ranks things, such as with the synthetic queries that
Google tested, then the Google -signal' may come through much more."
In an e-mail sent at noon Feb.
1, a Google spokesperson hinted that Singhal will not be attending Microsoft's
roundtable but that Matt Cutts, Google principal engineer, would.