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Is Bing Censoring Questions About Microsoft?

Comparing Bing search to Google

Why is Microsoft Word So Expensive?(Click to Enlarge)

Yesterday while doing my daily perusal of Reddit.com’s pic sub-Reddit (always good for a laugh) I came across the headline, “Bing Fail.” Being in the SEO biz, I had to click on it and found the image at the right (click to enlarge). The original can be seen here.

The poster had searched for “why is microsoft word so expensive?” in both Google and Bing. The results were strikingly different. Google’s first two results were clearly web pages discussing that very question: one on MacRumors.com and the other on Ibibo.com. A look at Bing made me scratch my head…just as the post had intended. It’s first response was to the question, “Why is Manhattan so expensive?” If, in Bing’s algorithm, “microsoft” is the same as “manhattan” I think they need to check their programming. The second and third results were about the differences between various versions of Word.

So, I decided to do a little experimenting on my own. I opened up a Google search tab and a Bing search tab in my trusty FireFox browser. My first question was if Google would disrespect it self? Would it serve up the mud people were flinging at it, which based on the experiment above Microsoft wasn’t willing to do. I thought about the most common criticism of Google and typed it in, “is google too powerful?” (Do the search for yourself on Bing and Google…maybe the results have changed.)

Is Google Too Powerful?

Is Google Too Powerful?(Click to Enlarge)

The results (on the right) on Google seemed to show that Google was very willing to let you know people were talking about this issue. And they didn’t just return “Bob’s Paranoid Blog To Share the Insanity.” No…they returned heavy hitters like BusinessWeek.com, The BBC, and SearchEngineJournal.com.

So, next I clicked my way to Bing to ask the same question. Bing returned the same three articles as Google, but they’d helpfully stripped of any and all text that didn’t repeat the question. Hmmm…I don’t recall Bing doing that for other searches.

I also found the difference in the quoted text from the pages interesting. Google’s quotes somehow seem softer and focused on buyouts. Bing’s quotes seemed to use stronger words like, “dominate” and “crush.” Same articles…different quotes? Hmmmm….

So, I did a few other tests and found that Bing doesn’t always cover Microsoft’s rear end. Bing reports well on the recent controversy over Outlook 2010 rendering HTML using Word. They displayed fixoutlook.org in the second position. On the question of why Microsoft doesn’t seem to like following establish standards, Bing dished up quite a few articles, but they felt slightly less pointed than those Google served up?again mainly because of the quoted text. I’ll let you do the searches yourself and see what you think. Please let me know.

Is Microsoft Evil?

Is Microsoft Evil?(Click to Enlarge)

I scratched my head and tried to think of what accusation people level at Microsoft that they might not like. Then it hit me, Google’s motto of “Do no evil.” I typed into both search engines, “is microsoft evil?” and again the differences were jaw dropping. (Try it for yourself on Bing and Google.) Google is happy to spit out articles from TheRegister.co.uk talking about Silverlight, a poll on the topic at Mashable.com, and in the third spot, perhaps a post that actually might defend Microsoft, or at least appears to question those that ask the question. Hmmmm….

Then I turned to Bing and was dumbfounded. For the first time in my playing with this topic, Bing returned a news story in the number one position. And…the story was about Google, “How Good (or Not Evil) Is Google?” from the New York Times. The second news listing talks about the pros and cons of proxy servers?? And, the third news item is about Microsoft giving away money. Hmmm…. After that Bing does dish up the dirt with a  link to microsoftisevil.com, but they quickly shift to focusing on how Microsoft is killing evil software bugs. Hmmm…

So, what do you think? I’d love to hear of your comparisons on how self-revealing the search engines are. Please leave your thoughts and links below.

About Rod Holmes

Rod is a partner at Chicago Style SEO, a full-service Internet marketing company in Chicago. His main responsibility around the office is being the head PPC wrangler (he's a certified Google AdWords expert). He also seems to spend a lot of time on the phone talking with clients and prospective clients.You can find Rod on several social media channels: , Twitter, and Facebook.

48 Responses to Is Bing Censoring Questions About Microsoft?

  1. dmain July 21, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    I Stumbled across the same picture so I tried it myself. This blog came up as the second hit on Bing but the Manhattan result is still first. Google still has the first link to the Macrumors forums.

  2. nobody July 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    I have to wonder if this is really censorship or just a difference in the search algorithm. So I searched on Yahoo ‘is microsoft evil’. I got a third set of results. now there is some crossover, but all three are different lists. I also searched ‘why is microsoft word so expensive’ and again a different set of results.

    So I cant help but wonder if some people are finding meaning where there is none.

    I mean after all. If all search engines posted the same results, there would be no reason to use one over the other right? Some are just better than others.

  3. art July 26, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    If I were you, I would (Being that youre a SEO person!!!)
    Not make it difficult to understand your writing (First Line!!!!)
    Before you complain about BING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And get a copy of word from someone !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Rod Holmes July 26, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    Nobody,

    I don’t disagree with you in general?the algorithms are bound to be different. However, where it gets very suspicious is when you ask if Microsoft is evil and Bing returns a news item about Google. No algorithm is going to mix up the words “Microsoft” and “Google,” no matter how bad the programming.

  5. art July 26, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    THANKS!

  6. psychodelicacy July 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

    It’s also interesting that Bing’s first page of hits has one entitled “If Linux is free – why is it so expensive?” An algorithm that mistakes “Linux” for “Microsoft Word” is so bad it verges on being clever.

  7. Mojo July 27, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    Rod Holmes,

    I typed in Bing is microsoft evil and it returned microsoftisevil.com 1st and a blog that questioned is microsoft evil 2nd…

    the result in my opinion – who cares! there are much better things to search for on the internet. This is like the page ranking comparisons made earlier – which are the results of USER searches not search engine faults.

  8. Rod July 27, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    Thanks art for the editing.

  9. koala_man July 28, 2009 at 2:55 am #

    Don’t attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity. In my experience, Bing always returns poor and odd results. The reason why “Is Google too powerful” produced such a good set of hits is that that was literally the page title, which made the search process easier. No keyword weighing or proximity evaluation required.

  10. Rod July 28, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    Koala_man,

    I like your thoughts very much and would generally agree that Microsoft’s relative incompetency is to blame?I usually scoff at conspiracy theories.

    However when I ask Bing if Microsoft is evil and it returns stories about Google’s questionable behaviors…it gives pause. In what algorithm could “microsoft evil” be mixed up for “google evil?” “Mircosoft” and “Google” share nothing but two letter “o’s.” Undoubtedly the content of the post included “Google” somewhere, but “Microsoft” was in the headers, , etc.

  11. LordAustinB July 30, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=Is+Microsoft+Evil%3F&go=&form=QBRE&qs=n

    I dunno. Doesn’t look very biased to me.

  12. proboards codes August 2, 2009 at 11:45 pm #

    I think the Bing search results are hilariously contradictory to their commercials. “Tired of not getting what you searched for? (No, I use Google, and that doesn’t happen.) Then switch to Bing, where you get what you searched for!” followed by you not getting what you searched for.
    Oh, silly Microsoft. I pity anyone who uses Bing. Google is not only the best search engine, but the best company (Microsoft is just butthurt over Google officially becoming the most valuable company). Not only do they do amazing work, their company’s morals epic. I love Google. :) :) :)

  13. Rod August 3, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    LordAustinB: Nice! You’re right that it has changed since I did my search?no news any longer about Google being evil.

  14. EvilMelin August 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    I think proboards code needs to re-evaulate his life. He sounds like some Apple fanatic, only replace Apple with Google.

    1.) Google isn’t worth even near what Microsoft is.
    2.) Google is indeed a good search engine, so is Bing. Why was there no stink when Google used to return invalid responses when searching for G.W. Bush and Windows Vista?
    3.) How can they be the “best” company?

  15. Ilke Kaya August 5, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    Hello,
    The screenshot is misleading because the search engine in it is not Bing, just the GUI is Bing.
    If you check the upper right corner, you can see that the location is Canada. Bing is currently released only in the US, other countries are still using Live Search with Bing interface.

    Here is the Bing version of that SS:
    http://cs.brown.edu/~ilke/bing.jpg

  16. Nick Stamoulis August 6, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    It is quite possible that algorithms are quite different but you can’t put aside the fact that these companies are at war with each other right now. I think Bing has to come to the table with a bit more to really put a dent in Google.

  17. Sam August 7, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    Wrong comparison. You should be comparing Yahoo and Bing.

    Because Yahoo will be abandoning it’s search engine, you will no longer be able to obtain the more usable results.

  18. ChipEastham August 7, 2009 at 10:37 am #

    For anther datapoint I tried “is Microsoft evil?” at Wolfram|Alpha, getting the altogether predictable line they use: “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.”

    Nor are we, Stephen, nor are we…

  19. homer August 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    Of course MS manipulate the search results. They also hire people to post pro MS posts on every blog under the sun. The same people post anti mac/anti Linux posts anywhere where a positive comment is made for either. The internet is the information flow of today. If you think MS aren’t trying to control that to their advantage then you have rocks in your head. Given they have done every illegal thing possible to possess their current market share I would hardly think it surprising that they would stoop to this low. They simply are evil.

  20. no thanks August 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    It looks like Google preserves the ‘phrasieness’ of your text, whereas Bing is matching against the words more independently. Thus the longer your search text is the more likely you’ll get nonsensical results from Bing as it just cherry-picks the join of the most popular words present.

  21. noone August 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Why WON’T microsoft ‘rig’ BING? I mean, historically MS has a VERY bad reputation when it comes to anti-trust issues and if they are trying to kick googles ass, (remember google OS is now coming out soon ) and Linux is on a 50% skill set rise…

    Microsoft SHOULD be concerned. HIGHLY concerned, especially about how people look up and find information. After all, if it was not for the Internet’s neutrality and people being able to have free press and free speech, most of how evil microsoft past histories ( and on going ) busniness tactics would NEVER be known to Mass media.

    Knowldege is about the search engine… I believe the PRIME reason MS wants in the Search business so bad, is to try and control how we think about Microssoft and Linux and how they compete…

    So, it is rigged, no doubt inn my mind.

    Also, to use YAHOO’s search engine in these comarisons is not recommended. Since, Yahoo is not partnered with Yahoo and BING will be Yahoo’s search engine coming in a few months.

  22. Mark S August 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    Nobody in their right mind would touch Bing. MS has done enough damage to the IT industry already. And do expect Bing to skew results in Microsoft’s favour. Lying and manipulation is part of their DNA.

  23. df August 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    MS’s illegal and unethical business practices are well documented in the anti-trust cases in which they have appeared, and lost in every case, so there is no difficulty believing MS would deliberately skew search results to serve their own interests.
    On the other hand it would not be surprising if the cause for these results is simply that the MS search engine simply is not nearly as good as Googles. I know folks who work for MS and they were candid with me that MS simply had not figured out how to make a search engine that was even close to the efficaciousness of Googles search engine.

  24. I Google Myself August 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    I miss the old Alta-Vista search … No other search engine has ever been as good.

  25. Moe August 7, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. In other words, I don’t know whether Bing sucks deliberately or intentionally as a search engine, I only know that it’s useless to me.

  26. Stein M. August 8, 2009 at 1:55 am #

    Try to search for microsoft office expensive if you want a laugh.

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=microsoft+office+expensive&go=&form=QBRE&filt=all

  27. david August 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    If you want to get a clear idea of how google and bing take the query about thier rivals….do this….

    type “google”(without quotes) in bing and see the results
    bing is showing only one result about google.if you want to see rest of the results about google,you have to click other result about google.

    type “bing”(without quotes) in bing and see the results
    bing is showing all results abt bing as normal

    type “bing”(without quotes)in google and see the results
    google is showing all results containig bing,bing.com/maps etc as normal

    type “google”(without quotes) in google
    you can see all results containing google as normal

    SO BING CENSORS THE RESULTS
    THEY SHOWS BAD RESULTS ABOUT THIER RIVALS AND GOOD RESULTS ABOUT THEMSELVES.THIS SHOULD BE CHANGED.NET NEUTRALITY SHOULD BE MAINTAINED

  28. david August 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    search “google” in bing
    you can see only one result about google.you have to click more results for seeing all results about google

    search “bing” in bing
    you can see all results about bing as normal

    search “google” in google you will see all results about google as normal

    search “bing” in google you can see all results about bing as normal

    search “yahoo’” in bing you will see only one result in its first page…

    Why Bng is showing only one result about its rivals while it is showing normal results about themselves….?

    CLEARLY BING(MICROSOFT) CENSORS THE RESULTS
    THEY SHOWS GOOD RESULTS ABOUT THEMSELVES WHILE SHOWING NEGATIVE (BAD) RESULTS ABOUT THIER RIVALS….

  29. Anon August 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    I actually found this page using bing, so they are getting better

  30. david August 19, 2009 at 1:13 am #

    @Anon….its a bug in bing…its not that bing is getting better….he he..

  31. jason September 1, 2009 at 6:42 am #

    i tried all the comparisons discussed and found little difference from, google, yahoo, or bing

  32. guy finch September 15, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

    how can i get this bing BS off of my computer i didnt want it and i dont want it on my omputer

  33. terp November 5, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    I just entered “why is microsoft so expensive?” on Bing- and the first article that popped up was one titled “Why are Macs so Expensive?”

  34. dalton m. April 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    holy crap! The internet isn’t completely neutral!? I was under the impression we lived in a perfect world where no one is biased. Well, in any case, watch this clip and maybe you’ll stop using anything made by google, including their search engine.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ltTibsbMds&feature=player_embedded

  35. Ed April 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    I did the search myself and found these results http://www.bing.com/search?q=why+is+microsoft+word+so+expensive&go=&form=QBLH&filt=all&qs=AS&sk=&pq=why+is+microsof&sp=1&sc=5-15

    So if they once were censoring it they’re not anymore.

  36. Ryan Harrell May 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Ha ha, I just did the search again, and the second result in Bing is why are Mac’s so expensive! Wow! Really!?

  37. lyrics machine May 13, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    Haha, lol. Well.. bing obviously has some default priorities set.

  38. FreeFall May 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    @ dalton m.

    Every company in the world wants to expand, either horizontally or vertically. The fact that Google is successful at doing this just means that they are doing their job well. The fact that they are embroiled in lawsuits only shows that they get sued (which, given the number of laughable lawsuits that have been filed and that they are a successful company, is no surprise at all). Finally, most organizations have access to far more information about you than you might suspect.

    To truly trust any organization is utter foolishness. To avoid all products and services from an organization you can’t trust will leave you effectively ham stringed in Today’s world.

  39. diggito May 28, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    I also tried this, and it seems that it is no longer censored.

  40. Jack June 16, 2010 at 2:28 am #

    Several months ago, I came across the same link this post references at its beginning. Being a skeptic, I opened Bing and typed “why is microsoft office so expensive?” The first post was set aside with stars and indented, which I assumed to be Bing’s equivalent of notifying a sticky. The second results, which I assumed would be about Manhattan, was “Why is Mac so expensive?” I still kick myself for not capturing that screen.

    But anyway, I logged on to Bing today, several months later, and the same number 1 assumed-sticky post is the link I clicked on to find this article. The number 2? Why is Manhattan so expensive? Not quite as dammit, but just as much given the context. World’s first decision engine can still burn in hell.

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