The war of words between Google and Bing has escalated today with a strong denial about copied search results from Bing’s Yusuf Mehdi, who also accused Google of a form of click fraud in setting up its test involving “honeypot” search results.
Mehdi, Microsoft’s Senior VP of Online Services, just published a strongly-worded denial of Google’s claims on the Bing Search blog:
We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.
That’s in response to yesterday’s developments in which Google accused Bing of copying its search results after running tests that involved the manual promotion of random web pages to rank for nonsense terms on Google.com. A small percentage of the test queries — 7 to 9 of about 100 tested — later produced the same page to rank on Bing.com.
Mehdi’s post today turns the heat up more with accusations that Google’s test was a form of click fraud:
Google engaged in a “honeypot” attack to trick Bing. In simple terms, Google’s “experiment” was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as “click fraud.” That’s right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know. As we have said before and again in this post, we use click stream optionally provided by consumers in an anonymous fashion as one of 1,000 signals to try and determine whether a site might make sense to be in our index.
Mehdi points out that Bing first admitted its use of click activity back in the summer of 2009 in a Directions on Microsoft report (membership required, link via SAI). He also points out that Google has been accused of copying Bing several times in the past. (He’s referring to Google image search, home page photos, and even Google’s adoption of a 3-column interface last year, which Ask.com had before both Bing and Google.)
It’s anyone’s guess how long this war of words will go on, as both sides seem to want to have the last word. That status belongs to Bing now, but for how long?