The desktop search engine industry has been awfully quiet lately. Just looking at the search volume in Google Trends reveals that there’s been little positive change in the past 12 months (see chart below). But early this week, everything suddenly changed as the two search engine giants got into a fight over Google calling out Bing for copying their search results. In summary, Google baited Bing by creating illogical search results for “synthetic” queries (aka nonsense terms). Google recruited 20 engineers with Suggested Sites in Internet Explorer 8 and had them search for these fake term in Google until the results showed up in Bing (about 2 weeks!). The next day Microsoft fired back at Google explaining that the algorithm to prioritize search results uses multiple “signals” along with collective intelligence to determine search quality and in this case Google simply exposed this flaw. In essence, the flaw suggests that Microsoft considers Google to be the authoritative source whenever the result set is limited.
While there is no denying that Bing autogenerated the same results as Google, there are two important lessons that technologists and marketers should learn from this fight: