SEO

Microsoft’s Bing Falsifies Site Data to Increase Click Through Rates

Microsoft’s brand new search product, Bing, was unveiled to the public over the weekend. Over all the response has been moderately positive. Most of the attention has gone into Bing’s use of technology that Microsoft acquired from Powerset, that provides a series of related search terms for each query. However, it is going to take a lot more than copying what Google already does to bring down the search giant.

Its becoming increasingly apparent that Microsoft plans on a very aggressive strategy against Google with Bing. So aggressive that they have begun manipulating their own search engine results to increase click through rates to web sites they have indexed. Whats that you say? Microsft playing dirty?

Here’s how their bait and switch game works. One of the first queries I ran on Bing was my screen name that I use across several different networks “joehall”. On the bottom of the third page of results is a listing to my company’s web site. However, in Bing when running only this query the title of the site appears as my name “Joe Hall”, despite the fact that that page has never been titled anything but the name of the company “JOZSOFT”. The term “Joe Hall” appears once on that page in the sales copy but no other time in the markup.

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Therefore I ran my second query using my name brand instead and sure enough the same site appears at the top of the results with the correct page title.

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Therefore, I decided to try a second gambit of test using another one of my name brands. This time around I used “Whostalkin” as my query. Sure enough, the fourth site listed is an article by web pro news with the title completely identical to the query I ran. However, when the user clicks the result they will see the article title and the page title aren’t at all what is listed in Bing for that query.

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So now the question remains. Why would Bing want to dynamically manipulate the page titles to match search queries? Well, thats easy: higher click through rates! The more referring traffic that web masters receive from Bing, furthers Bing’s brand and manifest its self in the minds of publishers as a major player in the search space. This is an important part of any promotional strategy at the early stages of a new product, and web masters are already starting to take notice.

The obvious backlash of this strategy is that if Bing makes a habit of manipulating page titles then they run the risk of weakening the quality of their results of by giving a false impression of relevancy to the user.

So far I have only run this test on several queries. Has anyone else seen this issue on Bing? If so let us know in the comments with examples!

 Microsofts Bing Falsifies Site Data to Increase Click Through Rates

Joe Hall

Joe Hall is a bona-fide web head, code poet, marketer, writer, and the man behind Contact Plugin and the infamous 22 Media LLC. Follow Joe on Twitter today.

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76 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Bing Falsifies Site Data to Increase Click Through Rates

  1. Well, who said that search engines had to use the exact same title as the meta title of a page??? The meta title wasn’t primarily created for search engines… It was created to give a title to your page, that’s it. I think what Bing is doing is actually pretty smart.

  2. So Sebastien, you are tell me that you think its ok for a search engine to lie to its users?

    Here’s an example of why this is bad. Lets say I run a query for “How to make a meat ball sandwich” and lets say that I find a lot of results about meat ball sandwichs but no info on how to make one.

    And then I see a listing in the results that say “How to make a meat ball sandwich” which is identical to my query, but when i visit the page it is an article about the history of the meatball sandwich, but no instructions on how to make one. Further more I notice that the title of the page and post are “History of meat ball sandwich”.

    I don’t know about you, but I would feel cheated and lied to and wouldn’t think very highly of the search engine.

  3. “Falsifies” and “lies” are probably too strong word here. Habit says that the page title should appear in the search engine, but that is not law. It is unorthodox, sure, but ultimately users will vote with their clicks if it is a bad experience or not.

  4. You GO, Joe. “So…you are tell me that you think its ok for a search engine to lie to its users?” This is the age of transparency. Bing’s motto is “it’s time to turn Key Words into Key Decisions.”

    I want ALL my information, ESPECIALLY “key decisions” to be based on facts, real time info, and devoid of subversive scams & trickery.

    I liked your article.

  5. Interesting find, thanks!

    I’m a bit confused about the conclusion, however. Yes, they want to increase clickthrough rates on the listing that they happen to change, but why that one over any other one?

    If you’re already searching at Bing, you’re likely to click on at least one result I would think. So why push people to a specific one?

  6. Joe,

    One of the queries I ran used the anchor text of a blog comment from a very low traffic website, and it was the only time that exact anchor had occurred anywhere. So the anchor text of one nofollowed link apparently means a LOT to Bing as to the relevance of the linked page.

    Very strange way to treat their results if you ask me. Although – I guess I did do a lot more clicking on their results after noticing this :)

  7. Are you sure that bing doesn’t have the equivalent to Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion Program?

    Paid Inclusion allows you to change the titles and descriptions that display in SERPs to increase click throughs, maybe something similar is going on.

  8. Maybe it was a glitch. Or maybe Microsoft is running some sort of test out of the gate… Either way, I agree with you; it weakens the quality & relevancy of the results. Nice article.

  9. @Matt McMahon – Often times Habit defines standards. When one goes against standard to manipulate user behavior strong words are justified.

    @Laurel LaFlamme – Thank you!

    @Jill – I have no idea, your guess is as good as mine!

    @Mark – Thanks for your research, we will have to keep your findings in mind when we continue to evaluate this issue.

  10. It could just be an honest, but somewhat misguided, attempt to be helpful.

    When I search for my name on Google, one of the top results is for the company I work for, even though my name does not appear on the page. That’s been happening for a while.

    This looks like the same idea, just one step further.

    Is this a good strategy for helping people? It depends on whether the page title is accurate or not I guess.

    If I were not an SEO and I clicked on a page that said “meat ball sandwich” that didn’t have the content I wanted, I’d be annoyed with the SITE, not the search engine.

  11. @Kenny Hyder – All of the sites I point to in the post except web pro news, are mine. I haven’t paid them a cent.

    @Tony – Thanks for your thoughts. Yeah it could be a glitch or test of some kind.

  12. Let’s see if Bounce Rates are higher for Bing referrals than those for Google or Yahoo over the next few weeks. Should be reasonably easy to measure.

  13. *** If I were not an SEO and I clicked on a page that said “meat ball sandwich” that didn’t have the content I wanted, I’d be annoyed with the SITE, not the search engine. ***

    As the owner of the site, I’d be wandering why I was getting off-target referrals and take steps to generate extra content to fulfill those searchers needs.

    Maybe though, Adsense earnings would increase without doing anything at all, as the users exit the site via clicking on paid ads. Could this move by Bing actually be handing additional advertising revenue to Google?

  14. Yep, do a search for “Paul Steven” without quotes and it’ll return my company ‘North South Media’ with my name as the title.

    It looks as though Bing is doing some semantic query work in the background, although I have already coined as the first ‘Teflon Don’ search engine but on the whole I really, really, like it.

  15. @g1smd – Bounce rates probably will be a lot higher. As far as sending more traffic through Google ads, I guess that depends on how well Google’s Adsense relevance algorithm is!

  16. It’s 100% anchor text driven – in our database “joe hall” is #1 anchor text for this domain with, see screenshot of the analysis: http://tinyurl.com/r7t8w5

    They are NOT faking it – they just provide correct words that related to the query: that site was matched due to anchor text and their search engine correctly used it rather than irrelevant title of the page for THAT query.

  17. Well, as far as the titles go, I noticed Bing will display different title tags for a site based on the KW searched. In addition, our company for our primary keyword, has our title tag being pulled from DMOZ right now. For one keyword it’s pulling DMOZ, for another its showing our current title tag. So it may not just be them manipulating results, but rather them pulling data from a variety of sources.

  18. @Majestic-SEO – So you are telling me that dynamically changing the title of a page in the results isn’t “faking it”?? Really?? Its fine to use anchor text analysis with in their algorithms, but they are doing this dynamically based on query.

    In other words, if the query matches the anchor text then they dynamically change the title. To me that is manipulating data to drive up click through’s. Why else would they dynamically change the title. It doesn’t in anyway aid the user other than to fool them into clicking.

  19. > In other words, if the query matches the anchor
    > text then they dynamically change the title.

    I’d say this is how it looks – I don’t think they are doing anything wrong because the title of the MATCH shown to you in search results does not have to be the title of the PAGE: Google was showing anchor text for not yet crawled pages for a long time as titles, it’s not new behavior, only in this case Microsoft did the right thing and determined that high anchor text matches somehow need to be passed to the user because otherwise user will wonder why this “irrelevant” page was shown up – the user will click natural search result anyway, otherwise user may have clicked PPC ad – I’d say this choice that Microsoft made is pretty good actually.

  20. I echo the analysis of Mark Barrera and Majestic-SEO that it’s the anchor text that changes the Title in the listing. I ran several searches in Bing and multiple times saw the Title of the listing change to exactly match some unique phrases that I knew for a fact existed in inbound anchor link text. I’m not sure there’s enough evidence to say they are manipulating it for higher click through rates. Not saying I wouldn’t put it past them. Microsoft definitely doesn’t always play by the rules in the search engine game (not that it’s helped them) – they often visit sites with their spider under fake User-Agents that look like real browser UA’s and falsified referrers simulating keywords searches that there’s no way in hell a site would rank for so it looks like a real person.

  21. > they often visit sites with their spider under fake
    > User-Agents that look like real browser UA’s and
    > falsified referrers simulating keywords searches
    > that there’s no way in hell a site would rank for so
    > it looks like a real person.

    IMHO here, but I’d say they do it to check if the page is spammy – some of those would redirect elsewhere or show different content if the page thinks user came from search engine: Google also uses this approach, can’t blame them.

    Just thinking aloud here – so long as user is given relevant matches it is fair play to change title, in the end it will drive relevant traffic to sites that rank well. Interesting thing here is that Google does not rank same site for this query (“joe hall”), my very educated guess here is that many backlinks for that anchor text are marked as nofollow , so Google ignored them, but Microsoft still gave them weight (correctly I’d say) – what this means is that Bing gives value even to nofollowed backlinks (probably only got trusted sites).

  22. @Majestic-SEO – “Google was showing anchor text for not yet crawled pages for a long time as titles, it’s not new behavior”

    Really? That’s news to me.

    Lets take a look at the example that you looked up. If someone runs the query, “Joe Hall” and jozsoft.com comes up with the term “Joe Hall” as the title, that is an extremely pointless result. Because there is absolutely nothing about me on that site. Yes, it is my company, but there is nothing about me as an individual. Thats what my personal blog is for and is why I titled that blog “Joe Hall”.

  23. @Joe Hall Really? That’s news to me.

    They (Google) have been doing it for a very long time, though they only seem to do it for “links”, URLs that they know about by virtue of anchor text, but have not fully indexed page yet.

    I’d agree with you that showing your blog page titled as “Joe Hall” would be more appropriate here, Microsoft clearly is not yet extending anchor text over whole domain (probably because numbers are too low in this case), as far as I am concerned the most interesting aspect in this behavior is that they ranked your page on top on the basis of anchor text that mainly comes from nofollowed backlinks (our other report that I did not link to shows that).

    Either way I don’t think its fair to say Microsoft “fakes” it – in this case it is clearly anchor text driven and reasonably so, now if they put “Majestic-SEO” in your title that would be faking it, just a bit ;)

  24. @Maestic & @Joe:

    It also leaves the door open for gaming (instead of Google bombing, Bing-bombing?) because it’s too easy to modify the listing of another site, all you have to do is link to it with anchor text. Hopefully they have some safeguards in place. I don’t think it’s ever good practice to adjust the title of a listing based on inbound link anchor text.

    @Majestic: Yeah I’ve seen Google crawl stealthily occasionally, but MSN does it all the time….to the levels of being ridiculous.

  25. My assumption here is that they counted this nofollowed anchor text because it was present on trusted domains, and probably discounted it (like Google does) on all others – if they did not do that, then indeed they will be wide open for gaming using blog spam.

    I think it’s reasonable that they have shown anchor text instead of title, because title for THAT particular query was not relevant – you either don’t rank by anchor text or do something like this because otherwise user won’t have a clue why this match was even shown in the first place.

  26. @Majestic-SEO — I understand what you are saying and can even agree that in theory anchor text can be a good source for relevant and quality descriptions.

    However, I think changing the title tags in any case is wrong and deceptive.

  27. @Joe “However, I think changing the title tags in any case is wrong and deceptive.”

    Well, it’s a tough call from search engine point of view – they might have very relevant result, but if they show it as is then user might think it’s not relevant because there won’t be highlighted matched words, so the only way to workaround it is to show anchor text.

    Say, Google shows site description from DMOZ if site is present there, is that faking too? In case of one of my sites that DMOZ description shown to me does not even have any matches related to query! At least in this case Microsoft does it cleverly – only if it matches query (and presumably there are no title matches).

    One experiment you might want to try is to add “Joe Hall” to your title in addition to existing word and then see if Bing picks up title (which will also be matched for that query) OR just anchor text – in this case smarter way would be to show title because it will be relevant to the query.

  28. I’m in agreement with Joe, to a certain degree, they can still show the cached title tag without changing it for CTR’s for the desired query.

    I won’t go far as saying it’s deceptive, because they are still driving traffic through to the correct site, so far, however, it is cheeky and Bing is showing it means business in going forward.

  29. @Majestic-SEO — Changing descriptions is one thing. I mean honestly half the time i don’t even read them! But title tags are a different story, this is the area of the HTML that the WEB MASTER gives a name. Often times that name is a strategic decision based on many factors.

    But you might be asking why I call this deceptive? Its deceptive because they didn’t tell anyone about it! During their launch if they mentioned this “feature” as a part of what they think makes them best, then it would be transparent and open. But instead they don’t say anything and force us to find out on our own. If they really think that this “feature” adds value to their service then they should talk openly about it from the beginning. The fact that they haven’t said anythings so far about this leads me to believe that there is a bit of internalized guilt in Redmond.

  30. @Joe “Its deceptive because they didn’t tell anyone about it!”

    There are a lot of things Microsoft, Google and lots of others don’t tell you about :)

    Google was the first major search engine to use anchor text for ranking, they used it in place of titles when they did not have title of the page because it was not yet crawled or could not have been crawled (say due to robots.txt) – essentially Microsoft merely extended this principle, thankfully not stupidly – they seem to show it only if there are strong anchor text hits for given URL, and (have not tested) no hits in title.

    In this case a URL is ranked mainly on the basis of anchor text, it is therefore (from search engine maker’s point of view) reasonable to show that anchor text because otherwise user won’t have a clue how is that page relevant to his/her query.

    It’s not perfect behavior – I’d say they would have scored 11 out of 10 if they shown your blog page has relevant title, but this would have required them to associated anchor text of “Joe Hall” that points to your homepage with the whole of domain – not an easy decision to make.

    Again, this is not perfect but there are very few perfect things that suit everyone in WWW scale search engine building, from what I can see Microsoft did a fairly reasonable move. If you link back to your blog page when you post on forums (as it’s most relevant to your anchor text of Joe Hall) then they would rank it?

  31. No idea what you’re talking about here. The examples you gave are (aside from being self serving) examples of getting relevant results based on the query you used. What is the problem here exactly? And if you believe that bing is deliberately “scamming” users to drive click throughs, then how do you account for the fact that higher algo CTRs mean reduced ad clicks. They would be shooting themselves in the foot.

    Seems to me they are trying to do some interesting things with semantics, and so far I see the results being pretty good from a relevance standpoint. May not be enough to make a permanent user out of me, but I seriously doubt they are trying to trick me to click more on bad links. That’s a sure way to make me never come back.

    You may not like Bing (or MS) for whatever reason, but try and at least be fair. Enough with the conspiracy theories already.

  32. @Eff Too

    Self serving? Lets see here….I own my own business that I work hard at promoting everyday by signing my real name in comments and not hiding behind fake ones. Yes, I write about myself and my company and do so with out apology ever…Because I believe in what I do and know I do a pretty damn good job of it. Does that mean I am self serving, you bet your ass it does, because that is what it means to work hard everyday promoting your own business and ideas. By the way are you following me on Twitter? @joehall

    As for not understanding the point of the post, i am not sure how much more clear I can be than I have been in the post and comments.

    And by the way, conspiracy theories are derived from loosely associated facts, everything above is in black and white.

  33. Hey Joe,

    After your post, I ran a similar experiment and noticed that when searching for my name, I did also see a bing result for my business website on page three with the title “Bobby Kircher.”

    Just for grins, I checked to see if my name was associated with my Bing local business profile for my co. After logging in, I was asked to provide my name which wasn’t previously populated and is now required when you update.

    So the only correlation I could find is also Anchor Text for blog postings like these considering I don’t have my name mentioned on my site.

  34. I had found the same when I started seeing referrers from Bing and the search query that lead users in. Over the short term I am seeing that visitors from Bing will go deeper into the site, but I believe that is only because of the “Related Post” listing.

    Whatever the case traffic is traffic. Time will tell if it can be converted or if the “Bingflow” is just a waste of bandwidth.

  35. I’ve seen this happen very occasionally in both Google and Yahoo (UK sites) – although I’m guessing they were testing the feature.

    Personally I think it is up to the search engine if they do this – I’ve not seen any rule book that says the title snippet must exactly match the title of the page in question. Their users will ultimately decide whether the approach works.

  36. Can someone explain why binging “mime types” returns wikipedia article on Mimes, with title==query, but “type” nowhere in HTML and presumably not in anchor text?

  37. Just checked external anchor text for that wikipedia URL only and there were no “mime types” there, however when we compared
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mime_types vs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mime it turned out that the former url has got 23 external backlinks from 15 external domains, where as Mimes have 662 external backlinks from 295 external domains – this explain why they rank higher, chances are their system shows query in place of title IF it has got strong anchor text influence, either way this seems rather dodgy in this particular case.

  38. Hey Joe,

    Hasn’t Google been manipulating their search results for a long time? They continuously select their own snippet for the description in a search result.

    Why isn’t that seen as “faking it” or “lying” to increase click thru rates?

    Bing is just applying the same thing, but not just to descriptions, but to titles as well. As long as they are accurate and aren’t applying a title to a page about meatball sandwiches to turkey sandwiches, I would say that it’s perfectly fine and probably gives most users the best result.

  39. I think it’s important to circle the wagons and come back around to the point Laurel LaFlamme reminded us of quite a few posts ago: MS has branded bing with the tagline, “it’s time to turn Key Words into Key Decisions.”

    Regardless of your personal feelings about Joe’s language choices or on which side of the transparency fence you find yourselves, MS included “keywords” in their brand statement; iow, they brought keywords to the forefront. Thus, it should be easy to see why people would find the practice of dynamically manipulating (some) keywords suspect.

    Had they chosen to focus their branding on search rather than specifically on “keywords” (e.g. “Bringing search to the next level”), it would be much easier to argue that the manipulation discussed here (or whatever you choose to call it) is completely innocuous &/or simply a function of SE/-O evolution.

    As it is, the focus is keyword marketing, which makes it important to at least mention red flags like dynamic keyword manipulation and CT inflation.

  40. Hey all – Stefan here from Bing (yes, that guy who seems to be in every Bing video). I was talking with the engineer in charge of captions last night and wanted to update you on this one.

    With the caption ranker that we recently shipped in production, we use a machine learning system to select the best snippet text from the page. Once the snippet is selected, we algorithmically select the title that best complements the snippet. We look at 8 or 9 different places on the page to do that (many of which are similar to places Y and G use).

    For this example it looks like we picked up the title from anchor text and the team in charge of captions/snippets thinks we’re potentially looking at anchor text a little too aggressively. We’re going to push a code mod next week that will dial back the pref for anchor text.

    Anyway, just wanted to give you an update and let you know we’re listening.

  41. Did you skip the class in journalism school about objectivity and telling both sides of a story?

    When your first issue is with your own site’s listing on the third page of the SERPs, you’re clutching at straws.

    Articles like these reduce the validity of this site. Terrible.

  42. @Stefan — Thank you for stopping by and clarifying your methods. it might also be helpful if you could clarify intent. Is this to make a better search product? Are you trying to drive up CTR for Public Relations?

    When a company deviates from a standard practice, I think being as transparent as possible helps quell theories and concerns.

  43. The standard way that a search engine shows results on a Search Engine Results Page is to list pages using the page’s title tag as the text of each listing. Some search engines including Google will use their own method for displaying descriptions. But title tags are the industry standard for text in each listing. This standard is important because it is a product of collaboration between both the search engine and the web master. Both have an understanding that the title tag is how the page will be seen to the world. For the public this standard sets a clear uniformed format for the general public that may not be as sophisticated as your average SEO.

    Whether you like it or not, this standard exist.

    Bing’s deviation from the standard shows that they are willing to redefine the way that search engines display information. Is it better? Does it provide a better experience? Will web masters care? These are all questions that only time will tell. However, it is very clear to me that the way they went about redefining this standard implies that they have ulterior motives. Whys that you say?

    When one deviates from a standard with out being transparent and open about it. It comes off as if they are manipulating data. As much as SEO’s maybe don’t want to admit it, Google has become a master at “soft launching” changes they make to the public via folks like Matt Cutts.

    Change is an inherent aspect of any industry. But attempting to change an industry standard in this age of transparency, with out any input or dialog looks very specious to me. And until they start this dialog I will call this “falsifying”. You can’t give some one a free pass just because they are the new kid on the block.

  44. There’s no law that says a search engine should use a page’s real title, but common sense dictates that it should.
    And you would have thought that at least one of Microsoft’s thousands of employees had some common sense.
    If I was to search for something and consistently got useless or inaccurate results, I’d stop using that search engine, as will many others.
    However, I’m sure Bing will probably be so tightly bound into Windows 7 that millions of people will use it anyway.

    I suspect that Microsoft are hoping the verb “to Google” will be replaced by the verb “to Bing”. I’s not going to happen in my vocabulary.

  45. Whether you like their method or not it is not “falsifying” anything. It is simply using another source for the link text in the SERPs depending on the query. As long as the content is relevant, and if they are using anchor text it should be, then I don’t see the problem. As a webmaster I think this is a benefit because it makes my pages with relevant more clickable even if the title tag doesn’t use the exact keywords being searched. If this starts delivering irrelevant results I will change my mind.

    I have been an SEO for almost 10 years and I know that page titles have traditionally been used as the blue link but the fact is it is not a hard and fast rule. Search engines have the right to use whatever they want as the link text and as a webmaster if you don’t like it your only recourse is to block robots from indexing your site.

  46. “The standard way that a search engine shows results on a Search Engine Results Page is to list pages using the page’s title tag as the text of each listing.” You’re calling that method of showing results “standard” because Google does it that way. So in that sense it is a de-facto standard because Google is the big dog. Where you are wrong though is in assuming that because Bing doesn’t necessarily comply with the way Google is doing things in every case they are deliberately being deceptive. That is unfair. You’ve setup your own rules, then demonstrate Microsoft’s ulterior motives by showing how they break those rules. And your logic in doing even that is flawed. Here’s why:

    You say that their method of showing results is non-standard, and because they didn’t let everyone know they were trying some different techniques this makes it inherently deceptive. The result (according to you) is a) users will click on seemingly relevant but ultimately useless links, b) webmasters and SEOs will be confused about how to use title tags wrt Bing, and c) site owners will be duped into wanting to work more closely with Bing because of the short-lived bump in CTR. And the outcome of all this deception and confusion will be good PR for Microsoft and Bing? It simply doesn’t follow. The long term harm would be way worse than any short term gain. So you either think the people over at Microsoft are complete morons or that they are being deliberately self-defeating.

    Bing is *attempting* to innovate from a dead last position. May be a bad gamble on their part, but the market will decide that. Why you’re looking for a conspiracy with NO EVIDENCE of one is really beyond me. There nothing an objective observer can look at here to find ulterior motives, deception , or falsifying. It just doesn’t make sense and frankly it comes off as sour grapes because you’re businesses didn’t come up they way you thought they should.

    I realize I’m starting to sound like a shill for MS, but the truth is that I come to SEJ for thoughtful opinion and objective analysis of the industry. Your article and subsequent comments don’t appear to be either IMO.

  47. I see the same, and I am not excited.

    Yes, they seem to do something heading in an interesting direction, but when I see the andreas.wpv typepad profile, and it has a text about susan boyle as description, the result is complete nonsense, I have not even read any news about her – but Google does not any better with some other comments on blogs.

    What I love is …. if you move your mouse over one result, many times there is a tiny orange dot on the right. Move over it and it gives you a pretty good abstract of the site !!! This is pretty strong, I think.
    And I am curious what else they are going to do, to compete with Google’s show options and the wonder wheel, which needs to be enhanced anyway, but is a pretty good start.

  48. Joe: I see why you bring up this point and I think the discussion here has been most interesting… especially the contributions by Majestic SEO.

    It’s just too bad it’s buried under a bunch of baseless accusations and falsifications about Microsoft that surfaces more credibility questions about this site than Bing. This is not reporting. It’s borderline libelous. Most importantly, it’s unimportant.

    The false assumption driving the original assertion in your post is that Bing was built for SEOs and webmasters. Bing was built for consumers. Plain and simple. It is their job to drive, as advertising gurus would say, a delightful consumer experience.

    If you read the press releases, interviews, etc., Microsoft is continually quoting specific metrics they measure in each of their verticals. I expect that they are measuring their customer satisfaction very closely and if customers are feeling duped, they will not use the search engine. And if customers do not use their search engine, Microsoft will see that their metrics are missed and that they need to make improvements. (Stefan’s not being an indication of how quickly they are willing to move)

  49. Interesting response Joe. Not sure what it has to do with this particular “dialog.” If I needed/wanted to promote my name and website (and I do have both :) I would have put them in initially. I prefer to use a nickname when I post not only because I’m a stickler on privacy, but also so we can focus on the topic and not make it about personalities or something else immaterial. My comments will have to stand or fall on their own I’m afraid.

  50. This has to be one of the most naive analyses I’ve seen in a long time.

    Did you stop to check to see if anchor text was being used?

    Did you stop to recall that search engines had become so accustomed to NOT showing your title and meta description that we had to adopt NOODP and NOYDIR in our robots meta tags?

    You got a lot of comments but the whole discussion was a waste of people’s time.

  51. LOL. Joe, you ask me for my name and website and I decline because I don’t want to distract from the conversation with immaterial details. You then respond to the VERY NEXT POST by Michael Martinez not by addressing his comments but by making a personal attack on him and the content of his website! You are a real piece of work.

    Thanks for not only validating my instincts but for the real entertainment. Got a good laugh out of this. Enough nonesense though, I’m outta here…

  52. @Eff Too — I am glad I could make you laugh! Feel free to return and read future post from me, I am sure you will find humor even before you hit the comments!

  53. The article is sensationalism at its worst – Joe perhaps you have a future with Star or the National Enquirer.

    However the comments were very enlightening thank you, especially MajesticSEO and Scott Allen!

  54. @Anonymous — Wow, thank you for the compliment! Do you really think I could write for the National Enquirer?? Can you put in a good word for me??

  55. There’s another ramification of this – what if you’re name is used as the title of a page you don’t want to be associated with?

    A few years ago a big corporation leaked a “sensational” stories about me to the mainstream media as part of their strategy in a lawsuit. Since I was unemployed and too poor for a lawyer, I couldn’t get do anything about these stories. Because these stories were in the “trusted” mainstream media, they scored high in Google and were picked up by various blogs, web sites etc.

    I have waited years for these to drop off Google so I could get on with my life. I haven’t had regular work in all that time. Recently the links seem to be dropping away. But now when I go to Bing, it dredges up those old stories under my name, and prefers spreading this gossip against a powerless private citizen to giving neutral information about the hundreds of people who share my name and have deliberately provided information about themselves on the Internet.

    In my view, Bing just took one of the worse problems of Google (aggregation of information on private individuals) and made it worse. :(

  56. I’m on the side that says this is wrong. I’ve seen it for a number of my pages. While this behavior can be pulled with paid ads, to do it to organic listings is deceptive.

    Okay so there’s no “law” yet that’s no excuse and there’s no intelligent logical reason for them to do so in an apparent random manner.

    While the hover preview is a great feature (until someone learns how to game THAT), the title switch is a direct opposite. They’re NOT presenting accurate information.

  57. I was actually very intrigued by the article and the discussion that followed – at least until I got toward the bottom of the comment section. Regardless, @Joe I’m curious, if folks were typing in Joe Hall and they were directed to one of your brand names is that not relevant? Think about the links you’ve built over time … I’m sure a few of those had “Joe Hall” as anchor text no? Perhaps the title tag change is actually a more evolved algo based on relevancy and anchor text. Again these are all assumptions, but I have to be honest – I’m not really seeing how seeing the query “Joe Hall” and the title tag ‘manipulation’ of one of your ‘brand names’ being all that misleading.

  58. @Alan Bleiweiss — I completely agree with you! *Passes you a free beer*

    @Jon Lee Clark — I am sorry you didn’t enjoy the last several comments. I don’t respond well to baseless attacks on my integrity. As for further clarifying my point, i am going to re-paste a comment that I posted above that you obviously missed

    “If someone runs the query, “Joe Hall” and jozsoft.com comes up with the term “Joe Hall” as the title, that is an extremely pointless result. Because there is absolutely nothing about me on that site. Yes, it is my company, but there is nothing about me as an individual. That’s what my personal blog is for and is why I titled that blog “Joe Hall”.”

  59. @ Joe Hall – No explanation needed on defending your character as I would do the same. Its just unfortunate the convo far too often turns toward that track. Regardless I’ll digress and move onto the point. Check out this tool that compares G,Y and B without branding. I typed in my own name “Jon Lee Clark” and found two of the 3 engines were ‘optimizing’ my Title tags to fit the query: http://blindsearch.fejus.com/?q=jon+lee+clark

    Looks like you better expand your rant to include the big G! Its weird though, I ran the above mentioned queries through the tool and all come back normal. Someone must’ve taken notice of your post!:)

  60. Great article! I tried a few queries, and the results are no where near the quality of google or yahoo. I think they want to run before they can walk.

    Agree with your comments about manipulating titles for click through.

    @Sebastien : I think you missed the point. Google and yahoo do not always use meta tags and titles on search results. This is not the point of this article and nothing in it implies that you should use the title on search results page.

  61. Is it my impression, or is it that google and yahoo are showing the best title and description they can produce to satisfy your information query, and bing is showing the best title and description to MAKE YOU THINK that your information query is satisfied?

  62. @Joe the so called attacks on your charactor were completely warranted. When the fact that you say they are baseless is insultingOne analyst reckons that Google’s global dominance will nearly impossible for Microsoft’s Bing to dent. and shows what kind of person you are. A snob of a troll, and a shameless liar who is afraid (or not man enough) to admit when they make a mistake… Your lack of respect or willingness to value other’s opinions (even when backed by common sense) reeks of little big man syndrome… Lemme guess: you are about 5 feet tall and have no authority in the real world so u try to compensate for it in the fake world? A hobbit and a troll… Michael is an expert on people like u.

    The only thing baseless in this whole discussion, is the original article, and most of the follow ups by the so called journalist. Unbelievable!

    PS
    i’m no ms fan! And where on earth is your neck man?!?! Your head just sits directly on your shoulders?!?! LMAO. Must be hard to get layed lookin like that huh? U probably got a real beast of a woman huh?! Lololol. Maybe u were just mad about those things, and took it out on the Internet huh?!!!?! Lolololollmaorofl !!! Huh?!?!?!? Huh?!?!?!?!?! Maybe next time you’ll just shut your big face… Huh?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
    Way to waste people’s time man… Thanks a lot you POS on pMS huh?!?!?!?!? 8itch!?!?! If this was the real world you wouldn’t say shlt cause I’d kick your 4SS huh?!?!?!?!?!!!! Loser!

  63. Why would anyone do a search for “joehall” anyway? Who the heck is Joe hall??? Also, I thing bing is worried about the people who use the search engine. Not the webmasters. You really think they would intentionally prevent CUSTOMERS from getting valid search results? That’s nonsense. It’s about customers! Even if they were driving customers to sites that weren’t relevant; why would you care? It wouldn’t hurt anyone but ms… Just another ms hater in denial about ms success… Btw, they have every right to tweak their own algo… If people don’t like the output it’s giving, they will just go somewhere else. I have found bing results to be as good, and sometimes better than google. I didn’t know it was considered playing “dirty” to use your own se how you see fit and manipulate data the same way. If it is, then every se ever is evil. You have to manipulate data or it will be digital trash.

    I can’t believe your audacity. It’s mind boggling. Boohoo if u don’t like their strategy. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    Go see a theropist pls.

    How do u like that “data manipulation”?