Google claims Bing copies its search results

The story began with Google’s team for correcting typographical errors in search terms, which monitors its own and rivals’ performance closely. Typos that Google could correct would lead to search results based on the correction, but the team noticed Bing would also lead to those search results without saying it had corrected the typo.

Next came the sting, setting up a “honeypot” to catch the operation in action. Google created “one-time code that would allow it to manually rank a page for a certain term,” then wired those results for particular, highly obscure search terms such as “hiybbprqag” and “ndoswiftjobinproduction,” Sullivan said. With the hand coding, typing those search terms would produce recognizable Web pages in Google results that wouldn’t show in search results otherwise.

Next, Google had employees type in those search terms from home using Internet Explorer with both Suggested Sites and the Bing Toolbar enabled, clicking the top results as they went. Before the experiment, neither Bing or Google returned the hand-coded results, but two weeks later, Bing showed the Google results that had been hand-coded.

Does anyone remember (or still use) Metacrawler? Before Google, that was my search engine of choice. It used to swipe from Yahoo, Webcrawler, AltaVista and others. Back then, the problem was as frequently “no results returned” and so it was really helpful to be able to search all in one. These days, though, the issue is relevance. Google, Yahoo, and all of the others return more links than you can possible peruse for all but the most unusual names. I started using Google when it demonstrated the ability to put the most relevant stuff on top.

Some time before I started using Google, Metacrawler became useless. I think that the other search engines were putting something in their code that made Metacrawler stop working for them. Or maybe they threatened to sue. I’m not sure what the IP-repercussions are for something like that, or this Bing-Google thing. But since Metacrawler is back and explicitly advertises that it’s using Yahoo/Google/etc, I would guess either it’s perfectly legal or they’ve come to an agreement.

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4 Responses to Bing, Snap

  1. Escapist says:

    I remember Metacrawler, and also “Ask Jeeves”, which was supposed to be the “smarter” search engine.

    I like the idea of “paying for research/paying for expert answers” (that Google and Yahoo have done a bit of) if they can get the quality up

  2. trumwill says:

    I’m not sure why I never used Ask Jeeves.

    I do like a lot of those Q&A sites where people ask questions and get answers. I run across them often when googling for answers to questions that others have already asked.

    Out of curiosity, as an ardent capitalist, what’s your position on the degree to which Metacrawler (and apparently Bing) can incorporate other search engines into their own?

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    I remember 10-15 years ago when new search engines would actively advertise on the radio in order to gain new market share. Remeber HotBot? How about dogpile? Yuck.

    This ended about the time that “google” became synonymous with search engine. Now bing is trying to relive history.

  4. trumwill says:

    If only Dogpile had thought to use a dog sock-puppet. They’d still have a marketable property.

    Bing is actually pretty good, though not good enough for me to change my habits.

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