The search spat between Google and Bing has turned ugly, with Google employees dissing Microsoft in company blog posts and personal Twitter updates.
Bing allegedly copies some of Google's obscure search results by collecting user' click data through the Bing toolbar and "Suggested Sites" tool in Internet Explorer. Google bases its accusations on a "sting operation" in which engineers set up dummy search results based on nonsense words, and watched as Bing produced mostly duplicate results.
The revelation makes for a lively debate, but the back-and-forth between Google and Microsoft (at a search event on Tuesday, over Twitter and in blog posts) also reflects poorly on Google, the search juggernaut who surely has better things to do than slag on a competitor who has roughly 12 percent of the market (or 28 percent counting Yahoo).
Here are five reasons Google should keep its head down now that the facts are out:
Algorithm Isn't Everything
Bing isn't going to beat Google just because it allegedly cribbed some long-tail searches, just as Yahoo didn't beat Google back when Google was powering Yahoo's search engine. User experience is still the key, and Google can take comfort knowing it's still the best in that regard.
Information Must Flow
As Daniel Eran Dilger points out, Google's business is built on spitting back search results based on publicly-available data. In a way, that's what Bing is doing by collecting Google's search results based on user input. And besides, isn't it hypocritical for Google to cry foul after shunning Facebook for locking down its own user data?
The Blow-By-Blow, However Fun to Watch, is a Distraction
Microsoft apparently co-sponsored an event on Tuesday about the future of search, attended by Google employees, but you'd be forgiven for not hearing much about it. We were all too fixated on the insults Google and Bing employees were hurling back and forth.
Google Has its Own Issues to Worry About
Google's recently been fighting the perception that its search results are deteriorating, along with the reality that spam has been slightly increasing lately. Calling out Bing as a copycat isn't going to make Google's search results any better.
Google Can't Do Anything About It
Danny Sullivan, who broke the news at Search Engine Land, notes that Bing is probably not breaking any laws by copying some of Google's search results. So all Google can do is raise a big stink and hope to shame Microsoft into changing its ways. But Microsoft has no reason to stop now, because the damage to its reputation is already done.