Bada Bada…Sting

If you’re in the search space and want to make some noise, there are few influencers who are as, well, influential as Danny Sullivan. He’s been at it a long while.

In fact, I remember trying to garner his affections at the end of the last millennium for my search engine client Northern Light, which arguably did a better job at producing relevant result rankings than that funny-sounding company out of Mountain View, CA — the subject of today’s post.

Today we awake to an audacious post (i.e., Google-planted story) in which Mr. Sullivan breaks the boffo allegation by Google that Microsoft’s ascendant search engine Bing is stealing its organic results. (Thank God it’s not stealing Google’s paid results.)

Microsoft offered Danny this non-denial denial:

“As you might imagine, we use multiple signals and approaches when we think about ranking, but like the rest of the players in this industry, we’re not going to go deep and detailed in how we do it. Clearly, the overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search, so we can guess at the best and most relevant answer to a given query.”

Search Influencer Sullivan

Undaunted, Google let the other show drop late today with its own post and supporting graphics (from a “Google Fellow”) on its own blog. It started off like this:

“By now, you may have read Danny Sullivan’s recent post: “Google: Bing is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results” and heard Microsoft’s response, “We do not copy Google’s results.” However you define copying, the bottom line is, these Bing results came directly from Google.”

Typically Google doesn’t use “influencers” like Sullivan to do its bidding. Its blogs have the capacity to unilaterally make news. But in this case, Google apparently felt it had such incontrovertible evidence, why not roll the dice and let Danny have the first shot at it?

In a nutshell, Google set Bing up, and Bing took the bait. We clearly have not heard the end of the MS-Google rivalry, though I do wonder how Microsoft can explain its way out of this one. Spam, anyone?

“The Sting” (1973)

Of greater interest to me is how this little sting and the media coverage it’s spawning will play into the fortunes of the recently beleaguered Google search franchise.

What? You haven’t noticed all the pot shots Google has been taking of late by all those Facebook aficionados? Some might even opine that this bad kharma hastened the recent change atop the online advertising juggernaut.

While I remain extremely bullish on Facebook, especially as a data-rich advertising platform, Google Search still holds significant resonance for me and countless others. Today’s shot across Bing’s bow could very well help the search engine’s tarnished reputation.

1 Comment

  1. Daniel Nicolas
    February 1, 2011

    This is huge blow to Bing – Microsoft has been trying pretty much everything in the book to try and win people over and use Bing. But people don’t like cheaters and this is pretty blatant.