Hiybbprqag! Google “Bing Sting” Hurts both Search Engines

Bing Sting

Remember that old saying, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”? Google probably does.

The big G recently published the results of its “Bing Sting” — a covert op where Google manipulated its search engine results for the first time ever to catch Microsoft in the act of copying its handling of unusual misspellings. The sting focused on some crazy misspelled words like “Hiybbprqag,” which at the start returned few, if any, results on G & B.

To trick Bing, Google listed one or more totally unrelated pages as the number one result for “Hiybbprqag” — plus several other out there terms. These honeypot pages started appearing on Bing’s results for the same search terms within weeks. The search engine concluded that Bing had been harvesting its data, perhaps from the Bing toolbar.

Okay, that’s kind of embarrassing. But then Bing fired back, accusing Google of copying its own innovative features, including its travel search, social media integration and infinitely scrolling image search. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

In the end, all of this stone throwing reveals that both search engines are guilty of looking at the other’s test — Bing being the more overt case — and, worse of all, that the two sites might not even be that different. Proponents of newer search engines like the admittedly awesome Blekko have been arguing that for years.

What do you think? Let us know on the Ajax Union Facebook.

Does Google Favor Google?

google favoritism

When you search “maps” on Google, the top result is Google Maps. Coincidence? Ben Edelman thinks not.

Edelman, a Harvard Business School assistant professor and notorious Google opponent (he’s served as a consultant for Microsoft and is participating in a lawsuit against the big G) recently published a study on search engine favoritism. His results showed that Google favors its own services in results 19% of the time — for terms like maps, mail, video and email.

And while Edelman interprets these results to say that Google is favoring itself, our pals over at Search Engine Land beg to differ. SEL has many objections, the primary qualm is this: Maybe Google Maps really is the most popular and useful result for “maps” searchers according to Google’s algorithm. Maybe it’s not favoritism, just business as usual. After all, Google Maps also shows up first on Yahoo! and Bing.

What do you think about search engine favoritism? Let us know at the Ajax Union Facebook.

We Knew It! Facebook and Twitter Affect Search Engine Marketing

search engine marketing

In search engine marketing, there are things you know and things you know. We know that Google calculates something called a PageRank for every site, which it uses to order search engine results pages (SERPs). We know that PageRank is influenced by inbound links, the age of a site, and many other factors — two of which, we knew (in our hearts) to be Facebook and Twitter.

But cardiovascular organs aside, we now also know the aforementioned — in an unitalicized, verified-by-SearchEngineLand.com kind of way. The SEO blog recently interviewed reps from both Google and Bing, confirming that the twin social media giants do play a role in how search results are ranked.

Some highlights:

  • Google and Bing evaluate the quality of links from Facebook and Twitter users by looking at the authorities of author profiles.
  • Facebook and Twitter endorsements play a role in both Google and Bing organic SERPs, as well as Bing Social Search and Google News.

We can only speculate as to the exact logic Google and Bing use to weight individual tweets and wall posts, as well as the users who post them, but potential factors include:

  • When the link was posted (endorsing an old link could suggested enduring valuable content)
  • How many followers/friends/fans the poster has
  • What kind of links the user typically posts
  • How many users click on, “like”, or retweet the link

At Ajax Union, our AnewB SEO Plan features regular participation on Facebook and Twitter. Does yours?