Matt Cutts Suggests Bing’s Denial ‘Doesn’t Ring True’

It didn’t take long for Matt Cutts to respond to Yusef Mehdi’s insistence that Bing do not copy search results, posting on his blog yesterday in direct response to Mehdi’s outburst.

The post, which also includes a 40 minute video of Matt Cutts (Google) and Harry Shum (Bing) facing off over this very issue (well worth watching all the way through), is a long and particularly well evidenced retort to Bing’s recent denial of Google’s accusation that they’re copying search results.

Cutts starts his retort off with an insistence that he doesn’t think Bing is just attempting to piggyback Google (which he shouldn’t, as it’s not the case), even heaping some praise on the Microsoft team:

First off, let me say that I respect everyone at Bing … everyone I’ve met from Microsoft has been thoughtful and sincere, and I truly believe they want to make a great search engine. I know they work really hard, and the last thing I’m trying to do is imply that Bing is purely piggybacking Google. I don’t believe that.

That’s about it as far as the pleasantries go, as Matt then takes a look at why he thinks Mehdi’s statement – “we do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period” – might not ring completely true. He not only has a look at IE8 and how it collects Google’s clickthrough data, but provides screenshots of Google’s ‘honeypot’ search results, which also appeared on Bing (example below).

I think it’s fair to say that Bing almost certainly did copy these results; reverse-engineering both clickthrough data gained via IE8 and specific Google parameters relating to spelling corrections. The thing is, I don’t think Google are quite as bothered about it as they’re making out. They’ve been doing this sort of thing for years, and the more cynical amongst us (Blekko for example) might even suggest that Google’s reaction to the issue is merely a diversionary tactic – if people like Blekko CEO Rick Skrenta has his way, the debate would be around spam related issues, rather than this who-copied-who malarky.

Either way I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear on the subject from either search engine – they both appeared to be engaged in a somewhat childish ‘I want the last word battle’. Whatever happens we’ll continue to diligently keep you informed, even if we’re starting to get just the tiniest bit bored with the whole thing.

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