There have been some reports over at Search Engine Land that Bing may be Copying Google’s results. What seems to be actually happening, and what Bing have admitted to, is that they use information from Explorer’s users to generate results in Bing. Harry Shum, Corporate VP at Bing said they use;
clickstream data we get 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.
Which means that when an Explorer user clicks on a Google link, Microsoft then uses that information to influence the results in Bing.
Copying a failing student?
The short sighted thing about this is that Bing are copying the user behaviour of someone who is responding to Google’s information. We already know that 50% of all clicks go to the top result, so really Bing is just collecting data on Google’s top results, not the most relevant information. The problem with Google’s top results is that there have already been reports of a steady decline in their quality. Even with a tweak of their search algorithm to increase emphasis on results with original content seems to have not changed anything.
What should Bing be doing?
If it is true, that Bing is taking their users behavior at face value, then that clearly does not tell the whole story. Secondly if Bing is copying users responding to Google, then how are they ever going to become an alternative search engine? All that will happen is they will just become better at being Google. Why not try to offer up some different search results?
If Bing are not doing it already, they should be looking at giving a weighted value to the search results, knowing that most people click on the top results out of habit. If a user browses to the second or third search page, on Google or Bing, and clicks on a link and then stays on that website for more than 5 seconds, then that website should get 100 times the value of anything else.
Why not offer some segmentation of results?
As you can see from the image above, Bing already offer related searches and search history. Why not list the top results from those related searches? Underneath Bing could list the top result from .gov, .org etc? Bing is already well and truely number two, why not take a leaf out of Apple’s book and try to do something that makes them stand out?
- They could say they will not index ANY duplicate content.
- They could use the left hand column to list the top results segmented by anything; “This is the top result for over 60s” etc
- They could give more value to smaller websites that don’t link out as much.
- They could list the words that mean the same, and then list the top results for each one.
The list could go on. The point is that if Bing wants to increase its share of the search market, it needs to start doing something different, rather than offering the same as Google.