Google calls out Bing for copying its search results

spelling

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if that’s the case, Bing must really admire Google. According to Google, the Microsoft search engine (and possibly its closest competitor), has been copying what people search and select on Google and using this data to tweak its own algorithm.

“I’ve spent my career in pursuit of a good search engine. I’ve got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation, in my book,” says Amit Singhal, a Google Search engineer.

Search Engine Land broke the story this morning after following it for months. The site reports that in order to bust Bing, Google executed an undercover “sting operation” last year after noticing in May that Bing was offering nearly the same results when users would enter a misspelled word as it did (see the photo at top). Further into this investigation, Google also noticed a jump in how often it and Bing listed the same page as the top choice.

After being fairly convinced of what was happening, Google simply had to catch Bing in the act. Engineers developed a “one-time code that would allow it to manually rank a page for a certain time.” Then, it created some faux searches for extremely uncommon content and once the experiment went live, it took little more than 10 days for its results to start showing up on Bing. Before this experiment, these searches returned next to nothing on Google or Bing – Google made a manual change for certain pages to start showing up. And that’s when those sites also made their way to Bing’s search results.

testing

So it seems clear Bring has been directly taking what Google users searched for and chose, and using their choices to create its own search engine results. Bing has improved its user base, and touts itself as a more convenient search engine, and separated itself from competitors based on its superior results. “Unlike most search engines, Bing serves up more than long lists of links. We organize our Search results so they’re easy to read and you can make informed choices…faster,” reads its own site.

And the site isn’t denying Google’s accusations. Director of Bing’s search engine Stefan Weitz e-mailed Search Engine Land the following statement:

As you might imagine, 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 do deep and detailed on how we do it. Clearly, the overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search, so we can guess at the best and most relevant answer to a given query.

Opt-in programs like the Bing toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of the 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 these signals.

What Bing is (since it’s all but been confirmed) doing isn’t illegal, but it definitely falls into a moral gray area. Still, its users are probably happy with the search engine’s performance and Google technically can’t do anything about it except pout. “It’s cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years, but they just get there based on our hard work. I don’t know how else to call it but plain and simple cheating. Another analogy is that it’s like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line,” Singhal says.

Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Mobile

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.
Computing

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.
Emerging Tech

U.K. company sets a record for world’s largest 3D-printed rocket engine

U.K. startup Orbex has unveiled the world’s largest 3D-printed rocket engine. It's up to 30 percent lighter and 20 percent more efficient than other similarly sized rockets. Here's how it will be used.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Computing

Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Deals

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…
Deals

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.
Deals

Walmart Presidents’ Day sale: Instant Pot, Google Home, and 4K TV deals

Presidents' Day weekend is one of the best times of the year to find deep discounts on 4K TVs, laptops, Instant Pots, clothes, mattresses, and furniture. And Walmart is offering deals on all of those things and more.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Computing

Wi-Fi helps connect all of our devices at high-speed, but what exactly is it?

What is Wi-Fi? It's a technology we all use everyday to connect all of our portable devices, but understanding how it works and how far it's come from its humble beginnings is another thing entirely.