In a move that seemed more like college dorm intrigue than research or detective work, Google set up a rather silly sting in search terms for rare or nonexistent words and then claimed that for these infrequent search terms about 9% showed up in Bing’s search results. Based on this rather flimsy “evidence”, they accused Bing of copying their search results.
Danny Sullivan has an excellent article laying out what actually happened, why Google’s accusations were wrong, and how this has created an embarrassing situation for Google:
The scheme backfired because in the course of defending themselves against Google’s accusation, Bing has disclosed how they use the “clickstream” generated by their Bing Toolbar as part of the data they feed their algorithms.
Now the pressure is on for Google to do the same. Google at first denied they use such data at all but then had to retreat and admit they do use it to determine page load speeds. How else do they use the data? So far, Google is being notably quiet on the subject.
See also Danny Sullivan’s followup post, Turning The Tables On The Google Toolbar & Disclosure Claims.
Google Finally Admits Toolbar Data is a Ranking Signal
by Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land
February 16, 2011
Many SEOs have long believed that Google uses data it collects from the Google Toolbar to influence search results. Now Google has finally confirmed it.