Bing Caught Cheating with Google Search Results

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Over the past few months Google has been having some suspicions that Bing was somehow cheating their results by using Google’s results. It all started back in mid 2010, when Google was looking for search results for a rare eye surgery called “tarsorrhaphy”. Entering the misspelling “torsoraphy” would bring up the correct spelling as well as the results for it. A few months later, Google results were showing up the same as the Bing results, but without the spelling correction. Google began to wonder how they could have the results for the correct spelling, when Bing didn’t even know what the correct spelling was.

Google then became more concerned whenever top search results were appearing at the top of Bing results for a variety of queries. Google decided to take this hunch a little further by creating nearly 100 fake search queries and results. The queries were just a bunch of scrambled letters such as “hiybbprqag” and “delhipublicschool40 chdjob” that no one would ever type into the search engine. Google then gave the queries’ results random pages, which had absolutely no relation to the queries.

Google then gave 20 employees computers with fresh copies of Windows, IE8 and the Bing Toolbar, following all standard installation procedures. Employees were told to start entering the search queries into the Google search engine.

A few weeks later, they started seeing these “fake results” showing up in Bing.

How could Bing find these results if they were only fake queries for something that would never be typed into the search engine? Google seems to think that it’s either Internet Explorer 8 sending data to Microsoft with the “Suggested Sites” feature, the Bing Toolbar sending data via the Customer Experience Improvement Program, or some other way. Either way, Bing is cheating itself from pulling old search engine results.

Even though Bing denies that they “do not copy Google’s results”, I think that Google’s evidence is very strong. Unless Bing has some reasonable explanation or some comparative evidence I think we could see legal documents making their way to Redmond in the near future.