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Google vs. Bing experiment: Half of search results are identical

Word: Sean Sheep

2 out of 10 results were identical. This was one of the more obscure searches I did, and I attempted to confuse the engines by misspelling Shaun and omitting “the” from the search. Interestingly, only Bing showed perhaps the most relevant result: SeanSheep.com. Both engines assumed I meant Shaun the Sheep without asking.

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Word: The Rite

4 out of 10 results were identical. This word was chosen as it is a recent movie release. Most of the shared results here could probably be logically explained.

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Word: welk

3 out of 10 results were identical. Both search engines assumed I was referring to the Welk Resorts Theatre and/or Lawrence Welk. Neither search engine produced great results.

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Word: Will Wright

7 out of 10 results were identical. I searched this term to see what results might look like for a famous person. Will Wright is a renowned game designer, best known for SimCity, The Sims, and Spore. Most of these shared links would be expected. IMDB, Wikipedia, etc are large aggregators of content relevant to this search.

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Conclusion

Out of the 100 search results returned from Google and Bing, I found 49 shared links between them, meaning about half of all results were duplicated across both websites. Most words had at least 2 (20 percent) matching links between Google and Bing, and for 3 words, 70 percent of all links were duplicated across both search engines. Comparing second page links appeared to lead to even stronger correlations between the two search engines. Many of these similarities can be explained. After all, it is probably smart and natural for both search engines to pull up entries from Wikipedia and other top sites, but some shared links are fairly obscure and precise. There are some strange correlations between Google and Bing. I tried a few more words, some nonsensical, and found that there are, of course, search terms that produce no shared results.

Does any of this mean anything? Have you done your own comparisons between Google and Bing? One of the major things I learned today is that neither Google or Bing are very good at retrieving relevant results. A majority of links returned were to sites I had no interest in. Search, though much better than it was five years ago, is still in its infancy. We’ve got a long way to go.

I’ve always enjoyed revising and editing. It comes with all of the creative elements of writing, and the comfort of knowing that somebody else will do the hard leg work for you. Whether its one tiny metric out of a thousand or the dominant way Bing attains results, it isn’t right for Microsoft to use Google searches for its own benefit. In return, it is wrong if Google has done anything like this as well. However, instead of sniping at one another, it would be nice if both parties would sit down and actually improve the quality of their own products. With content farms like AOL around, we need smart search more than ever.

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