Bing’s Search Results Are A ‘Cheap Imitation’, Google Says

The war of words between Google and Bing continues with the latest pair of jabs coming from Google.

In a blog post this afternoon, Google’s Amit Singhal reiterates the claims we reported this morning that Bing is copying Google’s search results. But he also goes a step further, or perhaps a couple steps, and accuses Bing’s search results of being “a cheap imitation” of Google’s.

Put another way, some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results – a cheap imitation.

Singhal goes on to say that Google wants Bing to stop what it’s doing — namely, using customer search data from Google searches to influence search results on Bing.

He labels Bing’s search results as “recycled,” and makes a plea for users to stop using Bing and use Google, instead.

We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there—algorithms built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results from a competitor. So to all the users out there looking for the most authentic, relevant search results, we encourage you to come directly to Google.

In the end, it seems that one conclusion we can draw from all of today’s events is this: Despite its continued dominance of the search landscape, Google is very concerned about Bing’s recent gains and is taking the competition very seriously … and perhaps with the gloves off now, too.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Web Search | Microsoft: Bing


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Badams

    I think Google’s continued attacks on Bing may actually backfire on them. First, I’m more inclined to trust Bing on this issue than Google – for various reason. Second, Google’s increasingly shrill criticism of Bing is giving Bing more credibility as a viable Google alternative. It’s as if Google is afraid of Bing and thus lashing out to try and discredit their main rival. I don’t think it’s working.

  • Doug Simmons

    Badams, the post was written by one of the algorithm guys who’s got little to gain by vilifying Microsoft (other than maybe a sense of revenge). They’d been sitting on this for almost a year, they made very sure that what many would regard as repugnant behavior on Microsoft’s part, really, line crossing stuff. This man and his team and probably the rest of Google too wanted this to stop. They had, apparently, no legal recourse (or inclination), there is no technical method I’m aware of to stop this (other than blocking anyone with MSIE in their user agent from browsing the site) which leaves either just putting up with it or making an appeal to the public.

    The goal of the post and the sting efforts according to its author: “We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there—algorithms built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results from a competitor. So to all the users out there looking for the most authentic, relevant search results, we encourage you to come directly to Google. And to those who have asked what we want out of all this, the answer is simple: we’d like for this practice to stop.”

    The rest of the post was explaining what Microsoft was doing and establishing convincing proof.

    Unless you think there’s more to their agenda than getting Microsoft to stop, how do you think going public like that could provoke Microsoft to do it even more? If I were Microsoft I’d just knock it off and apologize. That would be a good and an effective way out of this jam. Alternatively, they can go on Twitter and say Oh yeah well they stole our Search background concept that time.

    The mathematical machine without which Google would have never taken off the way it did and continue to lodge itself as the leader, more than dumb luck went into creating and refining that, and for Microsoft to get their search engine to behave as if it had the same algorithm (though with a two week delay) .. How is that defensible?

  • AlanLindsay

    Doug Simmons,

    Google is very close to outright lying about this issue. Here is what is actually going on. The bing toolbar (nothing to do with IE – it is explicitly the Bing toolbar) asks users if they want to OPT IN to anonymous data being transferred as they browse to improve search – that is what it says and you have to take action to positively check a box to make it happen. In other words you have to say ‘I want what I do to be used by Bing search’.

    Then Google set up pages for terms that did not exist anywhere on the internet – so there would be NO results. Then they had ten engineers click through USING THE OPTED IN BING TOOLBAR to the page they now showed. That tells Bing that for some reason, people think that page matches the result. Since there are no other results they start showing the page. In other words Google is getting mad because they TOLD Bing to start copying the fake page and now they are shocked that Bing would actually use that information.

    Guess what – the Google toolbar is an OPT OUT clickstream tracker – in other words you have to install and use it BEFORE you can turn tracking off.

    And finally – just to prove that clicktracking is only a small part of the algorithm – the search results for the fake terms are now different – because ther are now lots of pages quoting them – inother words as soon as there are real results, the faked results disappear. That actually proves there is no copying and that it is just part of an algorithm.

    But heck, lets just believe the company that ACTUALLY takes private data and uses it without asking. (wifi, maps, etc. need I go on?)

  • Ryan Hersh


    Bing is just using behavioral targeting to deliver ads. In this example, the Bing algorithm took the small sample of searches Google used for it’s made up words to determine what would be the best result. If 20 people search for “slkjfs;ldfjsljfikfji38393093093″ and all click on the same link, it seems reasonable to assume that link might be relevant. This is especially true since the Google employees were probably the only people ever to search for those terms. The only way around this would be for Bing to write code to discover fake words and return no results….would be a mistake because new words are created all the time.

    It seems childish of Google to be pointing fingers for this. What’s sad is most people who aren’t search savvy will likely read into the headlines and think Bing is cheating. Sounds like desperation on Google’s part to quell the bad PR as of late regarding spam.

  • Ryan Hersh

    Google……..Run this experiment again with completely different keywords, but don’t click on the links this time and then tell us what happens.

    This definitely is not an honest mistake on Google’s part. I think an honest engineer/scientist would tell you this is poor experiment design. Very convenient for Google.

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