Google Catches Bing Copying Its Results

It theorizes that it's spying on users with IE, Bing toolbar

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 1, 2011 12:42 PM CST

(Newser) – Google is furious. The search giant says it’s caught Bing red-handed stealing its search results—or, at least, mining data from its results to use to adjust Bing's own ranking algorithm. It suspects Bing is using Internet Explorer and/or the Bing toolbar to monitor users’ Google queries and results. Microsoft doesn’t deny it either, according to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. Asked for comment, Bing’s director said the toolbar was “one of many inputs” the site uses.

Google tested its suspicions with a “sting” operation, in which it artificially linked ridiculous search terms (like “mbzrxpgys”) to unrelated sites (like RIM’s homepage), then searched for them on Internet Explorer with the Bing bar enabled. Within two weeks, Bing started showing the same results for those terms. Furious, Google sent the results to Sullivan. “It’s cheating,” the Google Fellow who oversees the search algorithm tells him. “It’s like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back.” Click to see more examples from Google's "sting."

In this photo made Jan. 7, 2010, attendees look at the Bing display at the Microsoft exhibit at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
In this photo made Jan. 7, 2010, attendees look at the Bing display at the Microsoft exhibit at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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I’ve spent my career in pursuit of a good search engine. I’ve got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation,
in my book. - Amit Singhal, the Google Fellow who oversees the site's search algorithm

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