Microsoft and Google are at it again. In a shocking announcement on Feb. 1, Google revealed that it believes Microsoft’s Bing platform is using its search engine results in some cases. The company provided several examples of the issue, and said that it even created fake search results to see if Microsoft’s offering would eventually return the same links on queries.
All told, Google created 100 “synthetic queries” to see if Bing would re-create the same results. According toSearch Engine Land, which first reported on this issue, between seven and nine of those results were the same on Bing. These results hardly seem higher than what might be produced by chance.
For its part, Microsoft has said that it uses “clickstream data,” but has stopped short of actually saying that it culls Google search results for its own service. Either way,Microsoft needs to fight this battle against Google to the bitter end. Google, once again, is looking like the unassuming victim. It’s a problem. And it’s something that Microsoft must fight-or else.
1. Google already has the high ground
The biggest issue Microsoft faces right now is that it looks likethe bad guy in its most recent search battle with Google. The search giant has come up with several different examples of Bing seemingly matching Google search results. Microsoft’s decision to say in no uncertain terms that it didn’t steal Google’s search results was a smart move. But it can’t stop there. If Microsoft stops talking about it, the company will look even worse. It needs to make its case clear and drive it home until people across the world believe it.
2. It’s a small sample
Microsoft should continue to inform the public that Google’s collection of mimicked search results was by no means the norm. In fact, Bing’s results are vastly different than Google’s in several cases. If Microsoft can show several more examples of that and make it clear to users, it should be able to stop this problem from spiraling out of control.
3. The blog posts are working
On Feb. 2, Microsoft released a blog post about Google’s charge. It was the second post from Microsoft on the issue in two days, and it clearly stated how the software giant feels about the accusation. It was effective at delivering Microsoft’s stance-the company called Google’s tactic “click fraud”-and it made some folks understand the situation a bit better. Simply put, Microsoft’s blog posts seem to be working, and the company should continue offering them up.
4. It makes Bing more relevant
Microsoft is having trouble competing with the entrenched Google in the search space right now. Bing’s 12 percent market share is still way behind Google’s 66 percent share. But by Google bringing its latest revelation to light, Microsoft can launch its own PR campaign and potentially make its search engine seem more relevant than it really is. After all, if the biggest name in the business is targeting a product, shouldn’t that mean that the product is notable and a concern?
5. It can work against Google
If Microsoft can play its cards right and continue to take the fight to Google, the company could go a long way in making the search giant look like a bully. As mentioned, it needs to highlight more examples of where Bing doesn’t copy results (and delivers better results) to make Google’s accusations look unfair. If it can do that, Microsoft can look like a victim. Whenever a company is against a dominant competitor, looking like a victim is typically a good thing.
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6. The revelation isn’t all that groundbreaking
Let’s face it: IfMicrosoft is in fact copying Google search results in some cases, as some reports claim, it shouldn’t be all that shocking. In every industry across the world, companies are examining competing products and delivering their own slightly modified versions. Bing is not an exact replica of Google; it’s just Microsoft’s take on what Google does. In some cases, the results match up. The same could be said if the tables were turned and Google was on the hot seat.
7. Maybe a fight would energize employees
Microsoft is in a funk right now. For years, the company has been watching its core businesses-Windows and Office-run on auto-pilot while other firms in the space innovate. In the technology space, employees aren’t typically happy about that. These days Microsoft employees seem to have nothing to fight for. But if Microsoft can make its battle with Google more serious and consider the search giant’s claims a shot over its bow, maybe it can energize its employees to do more than they have in the past.
8. It could be a PR nightmare
Microsoft doesn’t need another PR problem right now. The company has been viewed throughout the years as the “Evil Empire” that dominates all the markets it finds itself in. There is no question that it does what it needs to do to win. It needs to make sure this incident doesn’t further stain its reputation. If Microsoft doesn’t find a way to battle back, the company will look, well, Microsoft-like. From a PR perspective, that’s not a good thing.
9. It could affect other businesses
Who knows how this latest charge could affect Microsoft’s other businesses? If nothing else, people want to know that the company they’re buying products from is trustworthy and operating in an ethical manner. If consumers think Microsoft is the evil party here, they might be less willing to buy other Microsoft products. After all, Microsoft and Google compete heavily in the mobile space. A person’s negative opinion on Microsoft might make them opt for Android rather than Windows Phone 7. The impact might not be serious-Windows and Office are too important for that-but it could be noticeable
10. The ad business could suffer
The main reason Microsoft is in the search space is to increase its advertising revenue. The best way to do that is to increase the number of people using its search engine. In practice, that sounds simple. But in reality, beating Google in the search space and increasing advertising revenue is extremely difficult. If Microsoft can’t make things better with this latest battle with Google, it’ll become even more difficult.
11. The haters will keep hating anyway
Part of Microsoft’s problem is that some folks are using Google’s search engine simply out of hatred for Microsoft. They believe that this latest charge is another in a long line of unsavory tactics on Microsoft’s part to match or overcome a competitor. Those folks will undoubtedly take offense to Microsoft continuing to admit no wrongdoing. But at this point, Microsoft shouldn’t care about that. The company can’t win over that group anyway. Microsoft haters will always hate. So it’s best now for Microsoft to stick to its guns and try to convert those who aren’t so anti-Microsoft (or pro-Google) and simply want to use the best search engine available.