Google Accuses Bing Of Duplicating Search Results

In the very profitable search engine market, two giants are going head to head. Google is currently the dominant search engine in the US and the UK, whilst Microsoft’s Bing service is attempting to gain a piece of that very valuable marketshare.

Mashable is reporting that Bing has been copying search results from Google. After creating a ‘synthetic query’, which is a search query which ties two separate search terms together which normally would not match. Google tied the nonsensical word “hiybbprqag” to seating in a Los Angeles theatre and after a while the same search result also appeared on Microsoft’s Bing service.

This would mean that Bing has been copying their results from Google. According to the corporate vice president of Bing, Harry Shum, a small part of the data which factors in to their search algorithm comes from their customers, who have opted in to sharing their web browsing data anonymously. This could explain why the results seem similar, but it does not explain why the synthetic query results match.

Over on the Search Engine Land blog, there is an article which explains in-depth some of the reasons why this happened, and the potential consequences of this. One of the factors which could have caused these similar results is the suggested sites feature built into Internet Explorer 8, which anonymously sends the addresses of websites that users have visited to Microsoft. These websites, which would include Google searches, could have somehow been factored into Bing searches which could have caused this problem.

It seems that one of the big reasons that this has become a problem is that Microsoft is becoming a more dangerous contender for Google’s search engine crown, and that if it was a search engine like Yahoo or Ask Jeeves, this wouldn’t be a problem. Whether or not this turns into a problem for either company remains to be seen. What do you think, is this a major issue?