Caught with the Hand in the Cookie Jar?

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There’s in interesting war of words going on between Microsoft and Google regarding search. An article at Search Engine Land alleging that Microsoft was copying search results from Google was the first salvo in the war. Microsoft followed up by accusing Google of click fraud.

The gist of Google’s claim, seems to be that Microsoft’s uses the data collected from the suggested sites/Bing toolbar feature to populate Bing’s search engine results even if the search results come from Google’s website.

Microsoft’s defense appears to be that they do incorporate the results into Bing, but it is one of many parameters when ranking a link. That the scenario Google executed was not legitimate since Google created false links to nonsensical search terms and then had there employees click on those links.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well both are right and both are wrong. Google’s honeypot essentially peeled away Microsoft’s aggregating of the parameters used to rank sites. By using uncommon search terms, Google was able to populate a false relationship between the search term and the site. If a popular term had been entered, the other parameters would have minimized the ranking. Microsoft however is using the search results from a competitor as part of it’s ranking algorithm. They are just letting their end user’s be the means of populating the data. Google’s honeypot just showed that when the other parameters are not relevant, then Google’s results will appear.