Does Google cheat? No more than Bing does

All search engines are guilty of bias, no matter what the FTC says. Don't believe me? Ask these adorable kittens.

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Here there were four sponsored ads (Webjet, JetBlue, OneTime, and Vayama) followed by a search box for Bing.com/travel. Bing was actually pulling its results from Kayak.com; presumably Google got its results via its acquisition of ITA Software. Aside from the fact that Bing showed a lot more cheap fares than Google, I’d call that battle a push.

Next test: Find the best taquerias in San Francisco. Here’s what Google Maps had to show me:

And here’s what Bing Maps had to say about it.

In this case, Google derived its ratings from Zagat, which it acquired in September 2011 (after Yelp yelped loudly about Google scraping its customer reviews for use in results). Bing drew its ratings from a deal it has with TripAdvisor. The results are different, but it’s hard to see any bias. Still, neither site wins this one because my favorite SF joint, Taqueria San Jose on 24th near Mission, isn’t listed among the top results for either.

The final and most decisive test came down to the reason Al Gore invented the Internet in the first place: To promote and distribute videos of cute kittens. Not surprisingly, the first four results from Google were adorable kitty vids from YouTube.

By contrast, Bing served up a link to its video search page as the first result – but of course, most of the videos there were also from YouTube – followed by four YT clips.

For my money, Bing’s number one result, the 17-second “Surprised Kitty,” was better than Google’s 3-minute “Cute Kitten Can’t Roll Over.” Your cuteness quotient may vary. But it’s clear Google’s YouTube has a monopoly in the crucial Fetching Felines market. Somebody call the feds!

Bottom line: All search engines “cheat.” If Google is harming anyone, it’s Bing, not consumers. Pick the one that cheats in the way you like best.

Which search engine is your fave? And what should the Kardashian-West hellspawn be called? Post your answers below or ping me on Twitter.

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