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Bing Didn’t Cheat, They Did Something Google Should Do More Of, Listen to Users

I looked through the list of things that Google say Google cheated on.  Made up terms that had never existed prior to Google creating the imaginary terms, like hiybbprqag, delhipublicschool40 chdjob,juegosdeben1ogrande, .  Because this word never existed before, the most authoritative site for this result is the one that got the most clicks in search results. 

One of the things I like best, and least about Bing is that it puts a lot of weight on user click through.  This makes it really easy for spammers to game, since you can simply put a search into a proxy click the result that is yours and watch your ranking climb.  On the other hand many results get better over time as a result of this indicator.

When Google set out to prove that Bing was snarfing their search results they created landing pages, waited for Bing to find them, and then searched for their imaginary search term, and clicked on the results.  This created the results that reflected the click through rate, not what Google had chosen for it’s imaginary results.

Google says that using user feed back makes Bing “increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results—a cheap imitation,” well Google I bet money I can do the same thing in reverse to you.  You see Google uses Click Through data as well.  So creating a new domain, and a new imaginary word, you can do a search in Google, click on the result you want to rank up, and if you are the only data Google has, that result will move to the top.  Not as quickly it would happen in Bing, but it will happen.

In the official Blog Post from Google they say they tried 100 “Synthetic Queries”. I couldn’t find a complete list of the synthetic searches, and Google only lists a handful of them.  I suspect that the trick didn’t work on the other 90-ish.  Google’s engineers may not have even intended to skew the results, but if only about a tenth of the results matched Bing’s it is quite possible that those doing the experiment just randomly favored those results.

Using the click data from the “Bing Bar” and in the search results might scare users from a privacy standpoint, but with Google Analytics, Adsense, and Google’s search results as ways to track what pages are popular, Google has far more reach than Microsoft does with the Bing Bar, PubCenter and Yahoo and Bing search results.  Microsoft also has a much scarier privacy policy.

Microsoft collects and uses your personal information to operate and improve its sites and services. These uses may include providing you with more effective customer service; making the sites or services easier to use by eliminating the need for you to repeatedly enter the same information; performing research and analysis aimed at improving our products, services and technologies; and displaying content and advertising that are customized to your interests and preferences.

I believe this is exactly how Bing ended up with similar results to Google.

I don’t believe Microsoft cheated.  I don’t believe that when Google started the experiment they meant to frame Microsoft.  Likely this is a PR play that spun out of control.