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Bing Scroogles Google in Epic Showdown

Raise your hand if you remember Scroogle.

For those of you who need a little refresher, Scroogle was a web service that enabled Internet users to search Google anonymously. The service was wildly popular in its heyday, boasting 350,000 daily search queries and ranking in the top 4,000 websites around the world.

Scroogle blocked all Google cookies and eliminated log files for searchers. Then, in 2012, everything came crashing down. A sudden barrage of search requests by Google combined with an anonymous DoS attack nailed Scroogle’s coffin shut.

By February, Scroogle was no more.

Then, on November 28, 2012, Bing resurrected Scroogle – sort of. The Microsoft company launched a full-scale war on Google Shopping by using the domain “Scroogled.com” and a tongue-in-cheek reference to the brand. Bing has even released YouTube videos as part of the overall attack strategy.

Fighting Google on its own turf. Ouch.

Why is Bing after Google Shopping, Anyway?

Microsoft would have you believe you’re getting royally “scroogled” by Google Shopping. Right in time for the holiday season, Microsoft has come out swinging against Google & Co. in a mighty big way. The company has lashed out at Google before, but this new campaign is downright dirty.

Let’s start with the YouTube videos. This is undoubtedly an underdog power play – pretty brazen to post these attack ads directly onto a Google-owned website. The first video ad is deadly serious; it’s one of those “scare-you-into-switching-to-us” kinds of spots. The ad displays a page of Google Shopping results for toy dump trucks, and the narrator ominously asks the viewer to figure out which results are paid listings.

“Easy,” he chides. “They’re all ads.”

The most shocking part of the spot is the tailor-made definition of “scroogled” – the new Google practice of selling their shopping results to the highest bidder. Yikes. Microsoft really has the claws out in this one.

The second ad Microsoft uploaded to YouTube tries (rather unsuccessfully) to tap into the whole “funny” angle – perhaps a play to gain some viral traction. The ad features an overacting couple discussing the dishonesty of Google Shopping results while cooking dinner. What I found interesting about both ads was that each repeated the catchphrase “for a more honest search, try Bing.”

Frankly, this sounds a little loaded coming from Google’s biggest search engine competitor. Bing’s setting forth the idea that attention should be drawn to May 31, 2012 – that’s when Google Shopping changed its listings to include only paid results. In an SEC disclosure, Google justified the change by declaring, “after all, ads are just more answers to users’ queries.”

Bing held its fire until Google had completely rolled out the change. The switch went full-scale back in October, and Bing was there waiting with an ad campaign designed to make you blush. For your viewing pleasure, here’s a screenshot of the homepage of Bing’s new Scroogled website:

Image 1:

The website is a smear campaign of massive proportions, but all the facts on the website are right on the money. For example, the sidebar features quotes from official Google correspondence in 2004 and 2012, and the difference is marked, to say the least:

Image 2:

At the time of this writing, the website has been live for roughly a day. It’ll be fun to see how long it stays that way.

Part of a Bigger Problem?

Bing is, of course, doing this for publicity. Also (obviously) the ulterior motive is to persuade search engine users to switch to Bing. Although their intentions are less than honorable, the ad campaign does shed light on Google’s shady practices when itcomes to its shopping platform changes.

But let’s back up for a minute.

When I searched deeper for this article, I found a CNET guest post by none other than SEO extraordinaire Danny Sullivan. In his post, he pointed out that Bing has been doing the exact same thing that it’s blasting Google for.

Really.

When Sullivan searched the term “lego death star,” he found Google Shopping at the top of the page. Here’s a screenshot of what he found when he searched for the same term on Bing:

Image 3:

But wait, it gets better. When I searched for the same term in Google, I found the same results as Sullivan. However, when I searched the term in Bing, the “Bing Shopping” vertical was nowhere to be found.

So what’s that all about?

I call foul. Bing’s attempting to call Google out for something it’s been doing itself for quite some time. The real issue here is not Bing; it’s the relative legality of all-paid Google Shopping results appearing inside the organic listings under the guise of found content.

My opinion? Google has every right to display ads wherever it pleases. However, it’s rather ironic that G makes such a fuss about webmasters utilizing the “nofollow” tag and labeling private ads when the search giant itself sneaks unlabeled shopping results right into the organic SERPs.

Label it Google – just call it what it is.


Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.

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Nell Terry

Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for'SiteProNews, one of the Web's foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the 'net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.

26 Comments

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  • Yeah, being one of the smaller stores sucks. The only way I can get listed among the Google Shopping listings would be to raise my prices to advertise even more. Be neat if it actually worked like the rest of Google. You know, hey, here are some people with a truckload of money – They come first. And by the way, here are some others that sell that too…. Shame to know you are missing out on good deals all over the internet from people who refuse to hand even more money over to them.

  • I can remember when popular Internet directories
    had a free submit site option. Over time as the directories became bigger and got more traffic and only paid inclusion was possible.
    Maybe in a few years if not sooner, google and bing will only display paid search results, they pretty much are already in many SERP results pages.
    Why not have an organic search option with no ads button on google, I would use it.

  • Pretty hilarious now that Google has harnessed the same power as Microsoft. In fact using the typical Microsoft model. Let’s see… I know.. We’ll give the service/software/widget away. Then start charging when we have enough suckers… I mean users (in this case businesses on board). We will dictate how businesses can upload their products and squeeze money out of them at the same time! YAY! 😀

  • in your article you say Label it Google – just call it what it is.

    but from the very same article you link to by Danny Sullivan you will notice on the Google shopping image there is a “Sponsored” mark with a hover over providing more information.

    Again from a Danny Sullivan article
    (remarkably similar, but sligly expanded upon and this time appearing on his own site)

    In the “Comparing The “Honesty” Of Google & Bing” section.

    The key difference is that Google’s results have a “Sponsored” disclaimer over it, one that even expands with more information if you over over the label (though few likely do this).Bing has no such disclaimer, despite the fact that some of its listings come through merchants paying to appear.

    Google are labelling!

    • The difference is, the Bing Shopping is not paid ads. Businesses can submit to those for FREE. Google Shopping used to be free, but now it is paid ads only and they have neglected to tell shoppers that except in a small inconspicuous link.

    • I would like to see that myself. The paid ads are taking up more space, pushing businesses that would be on the first page to the second page. I would love to see just organic listings without paid ads.

  • While we understand that the people who use Google for business will probably take something away from this, this tactic is a load of crap. At the end of the day, what are search engines for? Yes, consumers, and Bing isn’t going to do much to persuade the general public to switch to Bing by campaigning about things the general public don’t know or care about.

    Google looks better, and works fine, and this is the opinion of the general population of which Google is there to serve.

    Try again Bing, I have no problem with you, but this is a horse shit tactic of getting people to switch to you.

    Anyone who uses the search engines for profit who has half a brain will be utilising all the search engines to the best of their abilities anyway! And anyone who feels like they are being ripped off by Google, and still ploughing the majority of their budget money into Google products is an idiot and an “architect of their own demise” ( I had to use this quote somewhere ).

    If our company attempted this kind of slander against the competition ( believe me, were always tempted ), we would be facing a lawsuit.

  • Because we do not sell our products through a shopping cart, we sell luxury wood flooring which has to be ordered per specifications, we lost all our product listings to the cheap online wholesalers. These products do not even begin to compare to what we well, and they all show up on google for keywords we are ranking for too.

  • Just more evidence that Google has flip-flopped. When they started, back in the day when Yahoo! seemed unstoppable, Google came in and said “Hey! Stop paying that “get your business listed on Yahoo! fee and post your small business with us…free!” Penguin/Panda assured only big companies with tons of online participation would nap all the top organic spots. And, now they’re moving to what will be 75% if not 100% paid model.

  • Great article. Goo-gle-google sucks. Have you noticed that their search results are really showing many websites over and over again in the search results. With all their algo changes with animal updates, their results are getting worst instead of better. I think they are too busy trying to cut what they cut bad sites out of their search results and this is resulting in terrible search results. I have dine searches for keywords and found one website ranking way over 50 of the top 100 spots.
    Everyone knows that these companies are doing the same seo tactics as the so called bad site owners. They are just better at it, with more money to spend.
    G-O-O, pause, G-L-E, pause, S-u-c-k-s, pause Google Sucks, pause, tra-la la-la la

  • The less dependent we all become on google, or bing, the better for everybody. They have tricked the world into thinking search engines are the internet. If people did more research and used other tools other than what they are told to, this bing vs google war wouldn’t even be written about.

  • Google sucks now – no two ways about it. They are hypocrites extraordinaire and only care about what lines their own pockets. They change the way search results post across the board screwing every single small business while helping big business.

    I am about ready to jump ship. Some other company needs to do what they did when they started by just being a fair search engine.

  • This whole Scroogled campaign is quite hypocritical of Bing.

    Last September, before Google started down their 100% paid model Bing partnered with Shopping.com and have been displaying paid listings along side their free listings since.

    Bing Shopping now states “Payment is NOT a factor used to rank search results in Bing” but that’s a bunch of smoke and mirrors as on most of the queries I searched are indeed paid listings.

    On any unified listing, the first retailer you’ll see is a “sponsored” offer and then you’ll get a list of other paid & free offers mingled in.

    Any Bing Shopping results on the SERP can be paid offers and unlike Google, they’re not clearly marked as such.

    It varies by vertical but in my estimation apparel is now 95% paid listings.

    Aside from the one “sponsored” label Bing places on it’s top paid unified listing, all of the other paid listings fall anonymously in line with their free listings. Unlike Google who made it clear their intent to go 100% paid and have labeled listings as such, Bing serves up paid listings that for the most part are not clearly defined.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro Google, in fact I think the decision was half baked and rushed so Google could cash in over the holidays.

    It just infuriates me that Bing would launch these smear campaigns and publicly blast Google for something it’s been deceptively doing for over a year now.

    It reminds me of those completely biased political ads you see during the elections and I half expect an “I’m Bing and I approve this message” at the end of everyone of these videos.

    Rant over.

  • Hah! I went to look for Bing Shopping – automatically searched on Google. Some stories about it came up, but not the actual link.

    When I got to it through Bing.com, at the top of the results page is: “Payment is NOT a factor used to rank search results in Bing.”

    I also saw that Bonanza listings aren’t coming up in Bing Shopping anymore, which explains what happened to my traffic. Bleh.

  • Typically I get first and second page on Bing when submitting my websites. This is without a tremendous amount of SERP or page optimization. However even if I validate my site with Google and create the Google sitemap my results are hundreds of pages away from the first.

  • I dislike Google’s decision to substitute organic listing with paid listing. I’m sure users will switch to Bing if Bing proves to users it can provide better search results than Google or at least as much as Google does.

  • To the people saying when will we get a search engine that is all organic etc. Try DuckDuckGO! One sponsored link at the top, rest is all organic and unpersonalised. The layout is very much old style Google.

    There are already loads of alternatives to Google, Yahoo! & Bing!

  • We do spend so much time on SEO to get sites onto page one of Google – but more and more of the space is taken by paid for advertising. We’re asked to do this legitimately, play by big G’s rules so the results they give for the keyword are relevant, but here is Google doing the opposite.

  • After the Google panda 4.0 update well it not easy to rank in google i find very difficult to rank on certain keyword Any Idea may i rank in Bing and other Search engine Explain me Bro.!

  • I dislike Google’s decision to substitute organic listing with paid listing. I’m sure users will switch to Bing if Bing proves to users it can provide better search results than Google or at least as much as Google does.

    Regards
    WAQAS

  • The less dependent we all become on google, or bing, the better for everybody. They have tricked the world into thinking search engines are the internet. If people did more research and used other tools other than what they are told to, this bing vs google war wouldn’t even be written about.

    Partner to your Success!
    Faheem hafeez