The Google ‘sting’
The experiment by Google was simple – to see if Bing was copying their search results. To do this they injected false results into nonsense queries – queries that no user would normally entered. Then they set up a handful of new machines running Internet Explorer 8, opted in to the recommend sites feature and started running the nonsense queries and clicking on the injected results.
Well obviously, this only makes news because the expected happened. A few years later when these same engineers entered the nonsense queries into Bing, these injected search results appeared top of the Bing results. These sites had been carefully chosen to have no relationship to the results, so somehow the results were copied.
How are they copied?
Well obviously, Bing cannot “test” Google for all possible search results and steal the top result. So they are monitoring traffic and this has been admitted. They are watching the search queries that people are entering and what sites they are then visiting and how long they are staying on these pages.
In fact Bing are using ‘opt in’ data to monitor search engine traffic and it appears that if you are opted in to the tool bar in Internet Explorer, then Bing is watching your searches and what sites you are visiting.
And what about Google?
I have long since suspected that Google does the same sort of trick and this is the only reason why the PageRank Toolbar is still half maintained and why they provide Feedburner and Analytics for free. What better way is there for a search engine to provide accurate results to its visitors than by promoting those results that previous visitors have found most useful?
Is this a way to ‘fake’ results?
Of course, finding that traffic is certainly part of the results means that people can now attack the results method to see if they can promote their own websites. However, whilst this might be possible for low traffic queries, the effort required for high volume traffic is much more.