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


The gloves are off and Google has thrown the first punch. On Tuesday, Google released the results of a detailed investigation it conducted to prove that Microsoft’s Bing is stealing copying search results from the world’s largest search engine. Google claims that Bing is collecting Google search data from its Bing toolbar and using it to improve its own search results. In response, Microsoft fired back saying it does not copy results, but also admitted that it does look at Google results from its toolbar. In defense of that fact, Microsoft claims that Google’s results are only one of 1,000 input streams Bing uses to determine search results.

But pretend you’re Microsoft. Imagine that you own Internet Explorer, the browser 56 percent of all Internet goers use. Now imagine that one of the features you built into your browser gives you access to a constant stream of results from searches made to competitors to your own search engine named Bing. Most importantly, you have access to the search engine results of your biggest competitor, a search engine named Google that holds a dominant 68 percent of the search market. Your own search engine, Bing, has 28.2 percent of the market. You’ve already started using this stream of Google searches to benefit your own search. The question is: how far do you go? How much of Google’s search juice do you bottle and mix with your own?

The experiment

We know now that Bing uses Google results to augment its search. So the real question is: how similar are the results from these two search engines? To find this out, I decided to conduct my own investigation using 10 random terms I thought up from whatever was floating in my head earlier today. This is not a scientific study by any stretch of the imagination. My results may not be typical. They are simply the results Google and Bing provided.

  • 10 random words: adoxography (def: writing on a trivial subject), aromatherapy, arpu, best search engine, Digital Trends, “park place,” Sean Sheep (misspelling for Shaun the Sheep), The Rite, welk, and Will Wright. These words have been sorted alphabetically.
  • The method: I searched each of these words simultaneously on Google (left) and Bing (right) and scanned the first page of results. Both engines default to 10 results per page, along with a varying number of social, map, news, and other widgets. I looked at Page 1 results in both search engines. Using colored boxes, I marked links that were shared across both Google and Bing.
  • Preparation: To search, I used a Google Chrome browser in Incognito mode. I was logged out of both search engines and kept all settings at default. Both search engines seemed to know where I am (Chicago, Illinois), but I did not inform either of my location. I also ensured I was logged out of Facebook in Bing, which appears to have an effect on some results. Search histories on both engines were cleared.

Below are pictures of the actual searches I performed on Google and Bing. Shared links are colored and connected via lines. Browse them them yourself to see just how cozy Google and Bing get, or skip ahead for the conclusion and breakdown.

Word: adoxography

7 out of 10 results are identical. Adoxography means “to write on a trivial subject.” It was the first, and strangest, word that came to mind. The results were astoundingly similar.


Word: aromatherapy

7 out of 10 results are identical. This word was on a container of soap in my kitchen. Again, the results are in a different order, but are mostly identical. As seems to be the norm, both search engines add their own little image and news widget boxes around the search results to differentiate themselves. Bing was most helpful here.

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