A panel on search engine spam in San Francisco this morning got extremely heated, when Matt Cutts, principal engineer at Google, in charge of the company's anti-spam efforts, kicked off the discussion with openly accusing Microsoft's Bing of copying its search results.
Microsoft claimed that the Bing toolbar tracks users click data, providing the information back to Bing, providing the identical search results.Microsoft formally responded to Google by saying they "do not copy Google's results."
Harry Shum, VP of search development at Bing, accused Google of playing both sides of the spam game -- on one hand, Google wants to make its search site as useful as possible so users don't turn to alternatives. On the other hand, a lot of spam sites make their money by running ads provided by Google, from which Google takes a cut. As Shum put it:
I'd say you are really sidestepping the big problems, the origin of the spam, why they appeared in the first place. There must be an economic incentive to create his kind of content. Why? 70% of those pages show Google Ads....You can't just say because you don't report to VP of ad sales you have no problem.
Cutts said that Google monitors spam regardless of whether sites use Google Ads or not, and when it kicks a site out of Google's search results it also removes it from the advertising program. He also noted that sites have other economic incentives to try and game search results -- porn and casino sites, for e.g., pay a bounty to third-party sites who guide users to them.
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