You’ve probably heard by now that Google recently accused Microsoft’s Bing of stealing its search results. Bing (sort of) denied the claim but came back and accused Google of click fraud, the practice often associated with spammers. A back-and-forth stream of strong words and accusations has resulted thus beginning, what appears to be, a long drawn-out saga.
It all began when Danny Sullivan published an article exposing a Google experiment in which it tested Bing. According to Michael Gray of Atlas Web Service, the test, essentially, showed that Bing used the data from Google’s toolbar to duplicate its search results, a move that Google considers “copying.”
Gray went on to explain to that the accusation of click fraud is “a little far-reaching.” Although the technology was the same, it didn’t cost Bing any money since there weren’t any PPC campaigns involved. He said that if Google did suspect that Bing was copying them, this method was the only way it would have found out the truth.
So, who’s right, and who’s wrong? Gray believes that both companies are in the wrong to an extent. Based on his analysis, Microsoft was wrong to take the data from the toolbar and use it in their ranking algorithm without testing it further.
Google’s wrongdoing, on the other hand, stems from past events. As he explains, Ask introduced universal search long before Google did, and Yahoo introduced Yahoo Instant long before Google released its version of it. In addition, Gray points out that Google seems to make product announcements at other people’s press events and play it off as a coincidence. Although Google, typically, says that it has been working on these products for long periods of time, some people interpret their actions in each of these scenarios differently.
The timing of this latest turn of events seemed to be somewhat of a coincidence as well since Sullivan’s article was published just before both companies were set to take the stage at the Farsight Summit.
“Google’s playing hardball and they’re a serious, competitive company; they like to hold onto their market share, and they’re not taking things laying down,” he said.
As for the lesson for marketers in all this, Gray said that marketers need to expand their efforts beyond SEO to include other areas, such as social media.
He also pointed out that this situation is “good news for Bing” because it means that Google considers them as a viable competitor.