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Google Says Chrome Doesn't Send Data to Improve Search Results

     
5:55 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Danny Sullivan opened up a story today at SearchEngineLand - about the tactics that Bing is apparently using to copy Google search results.

Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google's results, then uses that information to improve Bing's own search listings. Bing doesn't deny this.

As a result of the apparent monitoring, Bing's relevancy is potentially improving (or getting worse) on the back of Google's own work. Google likens it to the digital equivalent of Bing leaning over during an exam and copying off of Google's test.

[searchengineland.com...]
6:01 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Spying discussion here: [webmasterworld.com...]

[edited by: bakedjake at 6:30 pm (utc) on Feb 1, 2011]

6:03 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Danny does a great job of explaining the details of the apparent copying and Google's sting operation that appears to have uncovered it. Please read the article, it's worth your time. And let's keep discussion of the "spying" accusation in the thread that bakedjake linked to above.

--------------

The details of the story also open up an interesting side topic about the browsers from both companies, Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer:
When Suggested Sites is turned on, the addresses of websites you visit are sent to Microsoft, together with standard computer information.

To help protect your privacy, the information is encrypted when sent to Microsoft. Information associated with the web address, such as search terms or data you entered in forms might be included.

Google Chrome:
So I asked Google. Does it do the same type of monitoring that it believes Bing does, to improve Google's search results?

"Absolutely not. The PageRank feature sends back URLs, but we've never used those URLs or data to put any results on Google's results page. We do not do that, and we will not do that," said Singhal.
6:28 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hahaha, BUSTED!
6:31 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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LMAO Classic!
7:26 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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IoI

and Yahoo offers Bing results? Is only Google in fact..
5:50 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Note the exact language Amit Singhal used: "...we've never used those URLs or data to put any results on Google's results page. We do not do that, and we will not do that"

If I'm reading that correctly, Singhal seems to say Google doesn't use the data for discovering new URLs... or does he say they don't use the data to affect rankings? Compared to the clarity of the second sentence, the lead-in sentence is pretty fuzzy in defining what the word "that" actually refers to.
6:15 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm just now reading the article... 7 or 9 of the pages they created and manually ranked for the study appeared in Bing. They do not say whether those pages were spidered by Bing or not... Wouldn't it be as reasonable since there were no results Bing used the data for discovery and then ranked the URLs where they should have been since there were no real content pages containing the term?

7 or 9 out of 100 doesn't seem like a very high percentage to me, in fact IMO it seems like a stretch...

Maybe I'm misunderstanding or misreading what they did... I don't have time to study it, but it doesn't seem like a very high percentage to me. 80% or 90% sure, it's pretty obvious then, but less than 10%?

“Absolutely not. The PageRank feature sends back URLs, but we’ve never used those URLs or data to put any results on Google’s results page. We do not do that, and we will not do that,” said Singhal.

Actually, Google has previously said that the toolbar does play a role in ranking. Google uses toolbar data in part to measure site speed — and site speed was a ranking signal that Google began using last year.

And, has anyone ever had an unlinked page spidered while using the G Toolbar? They may not use Chrome or the Toolbar to 'put any results on Google', because they use GoogleBot and an algorithm to put results on Google.

I don't see where he says they don't use the data they have access to for discovery though...
6:48 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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When MS retired "Live" and launched "Bing", it was my fear that their goal would be to copy Google. I posted that opinion at this venue at the time. The apparent confirmation of that is depressing ~ the last thing we need is a Google Mini-Me. I suppose the engineers at Google now know how the engineers at Apple must feel.

......................
6:54 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't see where he says they don't use the data they have access to for discovery though...

I'm looking at the phrase "to put any results on Google's results page." Does that mean "put" as in "positioned"? ...or does it mean "put" as in "we found the URL and indexed it"? Could use some clarification.

The issue Google was talking about centered on new pages that they put online for extremely obscure terms.

I'm tired of the copycat discussion after only 24 hours - I was tired of it after 5, in fact. But what Google is saying about how they use the data from Chrome still has some legs for me.
7:09 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Very ambiguous, but then G. always was. Since there has been a speculation that site usage impacts ranking, maybe he means that they do not take into account info on traffic, page stickiness etc that they would not normally have unless someone surfs via Chrome.
8:38 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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In my opinion the main reason Google created Chrome was to be able to collect better data on user behavior than they could get from their toolbar. And I can't believe that they don't use it in the algorithmic rankings calculations. I've even seen what I think is evidence for this in the way that certain pages on my sites have moved in the rankings.
9:47 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Chrome is my primary browser. I've been doing a lot of development work on two sites recently, visiting them near-daily.

Both of those sites just a few days ago started ranking top in Google on their key terms for me when I search in Chrome. I see 'normal' rankings (those that the clients see) on the same computer using IE8 with the toolbar.

I was wondering if either Google is personalising my results even though I've asked them not to, but then I'd see that across all browsers if it was based on my IP. What I'm seeing is browser-specific.

It could be that Chrome hits a different set of DCs; I've seen this before when the 'Jazz' interface was my default in Chrome before I saw it in other browsers. However if I keep seeing markedly different results influenced by my activity in Chrome in the future, then I would have to conclude that if Google say they don't use data from Chrome then they are lying.
11:07 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Chrome's reason for being may be even bigger than data collection. I think Google built Chrome to grow a more powerful leverage point for how the web evolves.

For example, right now there's a scuffle over what video codecs will be supported. Chrome says they won't support the popular H.264 and IE just turned around and criticized that position, saying they will.
11:52 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Chrome's reason for being may be even bigger than data collection. I think Google built Chrome to grow a more powerful leverage point for how the web evolves.

For example, right now there's a scuffle over what video codecs will be supported. Chrome says they won't support the popular H.264 and IE just turned around and criticized that position, saying they will.


Good observation, tedster. I hadn't thought of that.
12:31 am on Feb 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I've been noticing the size and scale of Google's aim ever since they started buying dark fiber - maybe even earlier. This is why I discount some of the short term profit suspicions that tend to get floated by webmasters, especially when there's no real data to back up the idea.

That's partly why I wonder about this apparently petty espionage game with Bing that kicked off this thread. Google usually seems to have a grand vision of the future that they're trying to help along and also be a big part of.

Cars that drive themselves? Not just a silly stunt. Dark fiber, voice recognition, energy efficient data centers, scanning every print resource that they can, developing operating systems, smartphones, a new secure protocol, improving web speed, a new image format, NASA collaboration, cloud computing - on and on it goes.

A company with a vision like that is just not going to sabotage their long-term potential for a short-term advantage. And I'm sure that their board knows it, too, and is on board with the big picture.

I do believe that the individuals at Google have the very best of intentions (unless you think profit is inherently evil.) But I also agree with economist Milton Friedman that "concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it."

All that said, I'd rather see Google leading the way to mankind's technical future than some government entity. But they shouldn't be doing it alone - they do need watchdogs.