Bing and Google continue to fight over trivialities in most recent spat

Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, has been competing fiercely with Google since its release in June 2009. Last summer, Google’s Head of Search Ranking Amit Singhal began to suspect that Bing was using information from the Bing toolbar’s Customer Experience Improvement Program and Suggested Sites on Internet Explorer to “cheat” off of Google’s search results. Google set up a sting operation last December with nonsense queries linked to “honeypot” pages to test if Bing was copying its results. The sting operation seemed to be aimed at discrediting Bing’s search technology directly. While less than 10 percent of the tests came up positive, Google engineers saw this as legitimate proof that Bing was cheating off its search queries.

These rather insignificant statistics show Google’s tendency to make an issue out of nothing. We believe that much of the hype and competition surrounding Google and Bing is generated in an effort to gain more publicity for themselves.

Indeed, this method of garnering publicity has worked well, popping up on shows like the Colbert Report, prompting the creation of websites like, and fueling the fire of the ongoing Twitter war between the two companies. Upon being questioned about Google’s “Bing sting” results, the Director of Search at Microsoft Stefan Weitz and others at Bing were quick to offer up a counter-argument. He admitted to using clickstream data (anonymous recording of Web clicks) as part of Bing’s search algorithm. However, Bing claimed that users willingly opted in to sharing their data and that Google had rigged its “Bing sting” operation to make it seem as if Bing was copying more results than it actually was.

Microsoft has the capacity to utilize all of the resources it has on hand to improve Bing’s search results, but the company isn’t quite living up to its potential. Google has had many years to perfect its search results, so it stands to reason that the younger Bing needs more time to fine tune its own search algorithms, instead of trying to replicate the same results as Google in order to keep up. Microsoft has access to a large amount of user data that it can tap into, and Bing should aim at incorporating this information in order to improve. Both companies need to focus on improving their products and appealing to customers instead of bickering among themselves.