Microsoft keeps defending itself against Google’s accusations yesterday that Bing is copying its search results: researcher Harry Shum wrote a post about it yesterday, PR head Frank Shaw has been tweeting about it almost non-stop, and search VP Yusuf Mehdi wrote yet another post on the subject today.The more Microsoft talks about this issue, the more it plays into Google’s hands.
Why? Because it shifts the conversation away from the increasing amount of spam in Google search results — which is great for Google.
Here are some facts to keep in mind about this whole ugly affair:
- Microsoft doesn’t hide the fact that it monitors users’ actions online — including how they other search engines — with their permission and uses this information to improve Bing’s search results. It discussed this information with analysts as early as 2009.
- Google engineers apparently became worried about Bing “copying” Google search results last May. Not last month, or last week. Last year.
- Google conducted the “honeypot” test, in which it proved that Bing was delivering similar results as Google for very rare search terms, back in December.
- Google shared this information yesterday — a couple hours before Google search engineer Matt Cutts was due to take the stage at a Bing-sponsored event about search.
- Cutts helps oversee Google’s efforts to reduce spam in its search results, and has blogged about the company’s latest initiatives.
- The panel that Cutts sat on was moderated by Vivek Wadhwa, who wrote an article on January 1st for TechCrunch calling for a “better Google.” This article kicked off numerous calls for Google to reduce spam.
Of course, the entire chain of events COULD be a coincidence. But it looks a lot like Google was concerned that yesterday’s Bing event would draw yet more attention to the problem of search engine spam, so decided to try and change the conversation.
Microsoft has a right to defend itself, but the more it talks, the more the issue of Bing copying (or not copying) Google stays front and centre.
Perhaps any publicity about Bing is good publicity. But it would be great to see both Microsoft and Google get back to the business of search innovation. That’s what users really care about.