Sunday, February 5, 2012

What Makes Bing Different From Google?

For some reason it has been much easier for my Rankmaniac team to get listed on Google than on Bing, so I thought I should investigate what makes the 2 search engines different.

The first thing I came across was a 2008 article entitled "Microsoft tries to one-up Google PageRank" which can be found here. Google rose to power partially due to the PageRank algorithm that we have discussed in class. The article discusses Microsoft's attempts to rise above this -- an algorithm they call BrowseRank. While PageRank ranks pages based on the link structure of the web, BrowseRank relies more on the behavior of users. Pages that are visited frequently and that keep users engaged for long periods of time are ranked higher. Some of Microsoft's products, such as browser plug-ins, monitor their users' behavior and transmit this information back to Microsoft. Although this article is outdated it is probably still safe to assume that Bing makes use of user behavior, perhaps to a higher degree than Google does.

Another more recent series of articles I found is a rather heated debate between Google and Bing that occurred last year. As detailed here, Google suspected that Bing was copying their search results, and carried out some tests to try to prove this. Each test was conducted as follows. They chose a "word" like "hiybbprqag" that neither search engine returned good results for. Then they manually modified Google so that it would return some particular unrelated site on this query. Shortly thereafter, Bing began returning the same result. This allowed Google to accuse Bing of copying search results.

In Microsoft's response they denied Google's claims but admitted to using users' clickstreams. This cofirms the fact that the online actions of users of certain Microsoft products are tracked and used by Bing's search algorithm. Whenever any of these users conducts a search on any search engine, Bing is watching and learning. Whether or not this counts as "copying search results" is up for debate. Either way, all of the above provides good evidence that an important component in determining Bing's search results is the behavior of the users of particular Microsoft products.

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