2011′s New Spam Tool – Bing? | Search Engine Journal

Feb 02 2011

2011′s New Spam Tool – Bing?

It was interesting watching Bing and Google squabble like fashionistas over the last purse on sale yesterday. Each claiming to have the high ground. And, as always the usual interest and excitement over a bit of drama slowly gave way to the ‘so what’s’ as the day went on, and so what would be right, as much of a distraction as it was, it really had very little relevance to actually making money. Until you look at it from a slightly different angle.

There are two possible scenarios, according to yesterday’s news, for ranking in Bing. The first and considerably less interesting is that Bing is copying Google’s search results. This is a nice easy one, because it means that there is potentially one less search engine to optimize for.

The second scenario is the one that caught my interest though, allowing me to entertain my grey side for an evening as I went over the possibilities. If we believe Bings version of events, Google’s sting results were due to Bing seeing people, using its toolbar, visiting those sites from a certain referrer string, and so (quite logically) determined that those sites were relevant to that query.

What if we applied this in situations where the site really was relevant? If we follow the logic to its conclusion, enough people performing a search, with the tool bar enabled, and clicking through to a single site, would cause that site to improve in rankings on Bing. How simple, to be able to hire hundreds of low cost workers to simply install the Bing toolbar, search for your head term on Google, scroll through as many pages as it took to find your page, and click. Suddenly Bing is swamped with information suggesting that your site is the one most relevant to the term.

Google’s sting results would also suggest that Bing may not be analyzing these results for relevance, so would the site with the most clicks win? It’s impossible to say how big an impact this would have on a competitive term, weighted with all of the other elements of the algorithm, in fact this is possibly as close to a test of a single factor as could be achieved anywhere, but it’s certainly an interesting area for further investigation.

This is such an old trick I’m not sure Bing could really be so naive as to include something so gameable in their algorithm, but, if it doesn’t work they show themselves as having copied Google, if it does, they have shown they have a long way to go before they truly understand what it’s going to take for them to be a viable competitor.

Written By:


Sarah Carling | Kiwi Collection

Sarah Carling head of search for Kiwi Collection.

More Posts By Sarah Carling

  • Anonymous

    Now that is interesting. Nice article, Sarah. I wonder if it wouldn’t be in Google’s interest to systematically train the Bing Toolbar to find irrelevant results, so that Bing’s “decision engine” becomes useless on important search terms. I mean, according to your “grey side” they’ve not only left themselves open to being played, but to being played by their biggest competitor. I bet they’d stop copying search results if it started messing up their “decision engine”.

  • Paul Madden

    Ha it’s nice to see talking to me for a while appears to have rubbed off on you!

    I think that whilst I’d love that to work I think the cost of the outsourcers v the cost of buying links to support the site might not add up. Having said that running a test with mechanical Turk (or crowdflower for a better api) might be an amusing distraction.

    I’m off to set a test…

  • Yes, apparently you way of thinking is contagious! You have a good point re cost, although the original Google test didn’t seem to use many clicks at all, I guess it depends how much of a shift would need to be seen in order for it to trigger. Can’t wait to see if your testing brings any results!

  • It would certainly be an interesting move for Google to make, but I can’t imagine at this point they would want to do anything that would take away their ability to cry foul any further, and playing that sort of dirty game wouldn’t gain them any fans from anywhere

  • AmyFabulous

    Sarah is a pretty much a SEO genius. Love the post. Thanks!

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