Suspicious of their new rival, Google engineers set up random results on their site for a series of unlikely search terms, such as “hiybbprqag.” (Google arranged for the nonsense word to point to a Los Angeles theater seating plan on its search engine.)
“Within a couple weeks of starting this experiment, our inserted results started appearing in Bing,” Google said in a statement on its official blog Tuesday.
Google said it welcomed honest competition, but sneered at Bing’s “recycled search results from a competitor.”
Bing did not deny that it took Google into account when producing its own search results, but suggested they were only one factor among many. They also accused Google in turn of a “spy-novelesque stunt” that would only affect very unusual search terms.
Now, let’s leave aside the fact that “hiybbprqag” is an esoteric recreational activity involving tartar sauce and a spatula — clearly I’m the only one who knows that, so it certainly does look suspicious. Google also didn’t mention if these are “Safe Search” results, which could rule out the possibility of Bing getting hits on my secret members-only stash of hiybbprqag erotica.
But the best part is what Bing told CNN about how it supposedly does get its search results:
“We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm,” Bing vice president Harry Shum said Tuesday, referring to the mathematical code that search engines use to choose their results.
…Bing gets “a small piece” of the data for its algorithm “from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users,” Shum said, saying many internet companies used “collective intelligence” gathered online the same way.
What do you know? Bing gets its marketing doublespeak from Google, too! Bing does have its uses, however…