Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has rounded on market leading search engine Google for what it claims are misleadingly high results rankings awarded on the basis of payment from the ranked companies themselves, rather than on the basis of keyword search relevance.
Bing makes the accusation specifically in regard to the shopping search service offered by Google. Here, it claims, searchers are not being sufficiently made aware of the possibility that payment can be a factor in propelling retailers to the top of their organic search results lists.
Bing claims that Google’s policy in this respect undermines the latter’s reputation for trust.
Although the practice has thus far only been carried out in the US, the argument is relevant to UK consumers since Google plans to apply the policy to the UK and other countries from around mid-February next year.
Google for its part claims that taking into account payment by retailers when listing search results on its shopping pages has been openly publicised since the practice started back in May.
Google further points to a drop-down message featuring on its shopping page which explains how payment from retailers is among the criteria used to produce the rankings.
The policy, says Google, was in fact introduced with the aim of helping rather than misleading the consumer.
Google says that because its search results take payments from retailers into account as well as product relevance, consumers are now more likely to find the latest information on stock availability, prices and special offers.