Scroogled: Bing and Google’s War Gets Heated

by Chris Horton

Bing turned up the heat on Google with their new advertising campaign telling customers that if they buy ads on Google Adwords network that they’re getting “Scroogled“.

Scroogled – verb
1. The Google practice of selling their shopping search results to a high bidder; known to produce intense anger in online shoppers who might miss out on the best price or the highest quality items.
2. Because Google Shopping only includes results from advertisers who pay them, some of the world’s largest retailers aren’t included.
3. The loss of money associated with a bad Google Shopping search result. Side effects of not getting the best price when you thought you were include sadness, frustration and overall indignation.
See also: bamboozled; befuddled; duped; flimflammed; hoodwinked; hornswoggled
Sample sentence: “These jeans were a top pick on Google but I found a better price–I’ve been Scroogled!”

The campaign which is housed at http://scroogled.com takes several swipes at Google Adwords by using multiple quotes from Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page culled from past interviews to show how advertising is skewed and “not good for the consumers”. The Brin and Page quotes included in the Scroogled campaign include;

  • For this type of reason and historical experience with other media, we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.”
  • “But we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.”
  • “In general, it could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed for the consumer to find what they want.”

The Scroogled campaign then takes quotes from The New York Times including these;

  • “The relationship between Google and Web sites, publishers and advertisers often seems lopsided, if not unfair.”
  • “But Google is walking a tricky line, which antitrust regulators are watching closely.”

And to add insult to injury in order to avoid the accusations of taking quotes out of context, Bing then pulled statements from Google‘s IPO letters, SEC filings and disclosures including;

  • Founders IPO Letter: “we do not accept payment for [search results] or for inclusion or more frequent updating.”
  • Google’s 2004 SEC Filing: “Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them.”
  • Google’s 2012 SEC Disclosure: “After all, ads are just more answers to users’ queries.”

They then top it off with a How Google Does It” PDF and the cherry on top, a Scroogled video;

It’s should be obvious to anyone that Bing is ready to play hard ball (as they have been for years now) and that they now feel that there is enough negative press currently to support this “Scroogled” effort. Bing does a lot to show how badly Google is handling paid advertising, but doesn’t do that thorough of a job proving how they do it better.

The truth is that there are always going to be complaints no matter what system you use. You either don’t have enough money to compete in highly competitive arenas or you have to spend an inordinate amount of time building up your site’s relevancy in order to perform well under the mysterious umbrella of Google’s Quality Score. And if you do the latter well enough, you’ll start appearing organically anyway which then negates a major part of the reason why people opt for Adwords in the first place (unless they’re shooting for the “trifecta”).  Bing needs to shift focus and show their advantages instead of spending so much time focusing on Google‘s disadvantages.
Google versus Bng

But while most of the campaign focuses on Google Adwords, the true battle continues to rage on as to which is truly the better search engine. Independent blind studies continue to show that people actually prefer Bing‘s search results over Google‘s. Bing has tried arduously to prove this with their “Bing It On” comparison tool where people can do random searches side by side and see just how many times they choose Bing over Google SERPs. Bing continually wins the studies, but still no one listens.

My own study had Bing as the winner 3 out of 5 times and I also randomly asked 4 others to try it and achieved the same result. Google didn’t win any of the contests. The same results also occurred from a study by Dave Davies on Search Engine Watch, where he too, ended up handing Bing the gold medal.

Even amid some of the Bing is copying Google” scandals and Bing’s adamant denial of the situation, Bing continues to prove that their results are not only better than Google‘s, but that people also agree in blind tests.

All being said, Bing seems to have a winning formula for search results that work (and are proven) and paid advertising that they feel is more “fair and balanced”. Now the trick is figuring how just how far they need to go to get people to actually listen.

What are your thoughts on Bing versus Google?

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How Search Engines Work

by Chris Horton

As of this writing there are 3 major search engine players and they are Google, Yahoo! and Bing (previously called Live and before that MSN). I would say “in no specific order”, but that would be untrue. The order I gave them to you is the order that people use them. When you build a website, you have to let the search engines actually know about it and that process is called indexing. Think of a library. Your website is a book. The library is the internet. The librarian is the search engine spider and the library computer the librarian uses is the index (just like it is in real life).

If you were to write a great book (your website) and put it into the library (the internet), you wouldn’t just simply walk in and put it onto the library shelves. Nobody would find it unless it’s in the computer system. The only way that people could find you is if the librarian (the search engine spider) looks at the book to find out what it’s about and then puts it into the system (the index) so that people could find it. Then people could come into the library, put in what they’re looking for, find your book and check it out. And if more people check it out, the librarian makes note of that and will steer people to that book more often since she’s seeing that more people like it. That’s also why it’s important that your book is clear on what it’s about so that it can be properly indexed. In short, you have to make sure that the librarian knows your book exists. Simply building a website that is out on the internet means nothing. Ok. Enough of that analogy.

The way you do that is to submit the website to the search engines either by hand, using a submission service, or letting them find you via a link posted on another site that is already indexed like someone’s blog, link page, etc.. It’s been debated as to which is best and in truth, it really doesn’t matter although having the spiders find it on their own is supposedly a better option. Hogwash. It doesn’t matter how it gets there.

Once a person goes to a search engine, they simply enter the keyword they’re interested in and the engine returns a list of results based on a variety of factors. These factors are things like the age of the website, how many people link to it, the content of the website, what the page actually says, whether the page is even relevant to what they searched for and so much more. In some cases, the search engine will completely ignore the site age, and inbound links (links on other websites that link to yours) and just let it rank well because it thinks it’s very relevant based on how you placed text on the page.

Essentially, you could outrank a site that’s WAY more relevant than yours simply based on how you set up the page, adjusted your title tags, etc. And that’s what I’m primarily going to focus on during this SEO guide. How to get ranked as quickly as possible even though you haven’t set up any link partners, barely have any inbound links, how to structure your site and text, information, body text, etc to get quick results. I’m not going to ignore the important things, but you want quick results and that’s what I plan to give you. This is not about cheating the system. It’s about structuring your website to rank well on the major search engines and giving them what they want. Well most of what they want.

I will preface this by saying that there have been some sites that just can’t be helped at all. Sometimes well established sites are the worst to pull out of the mire. Especially ones with dynamic databases where the content is built on the fly based on what the person wants to see because there’s so much information that you simply could not build physical pages for each possibility. For instance, if you have 50 states and 10 categories, then you would have to create 500 physical pages so that each state has a page for each category. That’s mostly why databases are created is to alleviate that problem and give the user what they want on the fly. If they search for Georgia Photographer, the site goes to the database and pulls the names of the photographers from Georgia and just creates a page dynamically. Those could typically have the worst SEO nightmares sometimes. If that’s you, don’t lose heart. Make sure all of this other stuff is in line first.

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