26 September 2023

Google has accused Bing of copying their search results after the search giant created some synthetic queries which tied two previously unconnected terms together and discovered that the same connections started to appear on Bing.

An example of this, Google linked “hiybbprqag” to a result about seating in a theatre. The only link between the query and the result was Google, yet a search for the term “hiybbprqag” brought about the same result in Bing. Proof, Google says, that Bing is copying their SERPs. Pretty good evidence it is too. See for yourself:

Oh dear, oh, dear. Microsoft simply responded with “We do not copy Google’s results.”

Not particularly useful or informative, so it was good that Corporate Vice President Harry Shum expanded, later on, saying:


We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users.


That would seem to be a fair explanation, at least in part, but Google is not letting this go. They have written a long post on their official blog explaining how they allegedly caught Bing red-handed. If you’re technically-minded, you’ll enjoy it!

Google essentially claim that Bing is using IE8, Bing Toolbar and perhaps other ways to send data on what people search on Google and what results they click to Bing, which they are then using to determine what SERPs they offer up. Or as Google puts it:


…some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results?a cheap imitation.


For a really good piece on the background to this and some very well reasoned opinion, read Danny Sullivan’s post on Search Engine Land.

It’s getting very catty between the rivals now and I even read a headline earlier today that claimed Google was copying Bing’s SERPs! Which is just madness, obviously… Right? Well, who knows?

From an SEO point of view, having Bing copy Google’s SERPs would certainly make life easier. Everything could be optimised for one search engine instead of many, one set of rules could be followed and monitored, one set of results tracking.

But it also minimises the scope for innovation, big wins and successes – for SEOs AND Google and Bing (and anyone else who dares enter the marketplace in the future!).

So come on Bing – if it IS true, knock it on the head and continue developing your own algorithm.