If you follow search engine news (who doesn't, right?), then you probably remember that in 2011, Yahoo! tacitly acknowledged defeat at the hands of Google, capitulating by getting out of the organic search game all together and handing their reigns over to Bing
. Not even a year later they also gave up on paid search, allowing "Bing Ads
" to power their search advertising as well.
As the partnership has unfolded, I've noted on several occasions that despite being powered by Bing, Yahoo!'s search results have never been identical
. My only guess as to why would be that they're just testing, but who knows. One thing has remained clear though - Bing has struggled with unintentionally showing adult themed search results
for non-adult oriented searches. As I discovered today, these issues are ongoing and are now affecting Yahoo!
First, let's take a look at the search results you get when you Google Bing
the word "plumbing
". A normal enough search, no?
Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Organics, locals, ads, social media and some informational links. Not dissimilar to what you might expect to see on Google.
Plumbing vs. Plumber Search Results
So what happens when you change just a few letters and search for "plumber
" instead of "plumbing"? Take a look:
Notice anything? Here take a closer look at the third organic result (just under the local pack) and the video results:
I don't think I need to explain the issue with the organic result, and I think the preview image on the second video speaks for itself as well, but the full title is "Plumber gets lucky meeting famous pornstar Francesca Le
", if you needed it. If you were to click through to the rest of the video results, you'd see that there's more where that came from... Now I should say that these technically aren't "porn" - most are actually YouTube videos posters hope will drive you to their porn sites - but it's still very adult oriented material for such an innocent search. This is obviously content one wouldn't expect to find and certainly not anything users would want their young children stumbling on.
Yahoo.com Video Results Powered by Bing?
Given the discrepancies in results, I was curious how results for the same search might look on Yahoo!
Here's a closer look:
It appears that Bing is powering Yahoo!'s video results, but on Yahoo! you get 6 previews instead of 4, and as a result we see 2 more adult oriented videos. The titles? "Plumber Sexy Video bendecho" and "Hot pics of girls sportin' Plumbers' Butt 2".
Like the Halloween Costume
results issue in 2012, it's obviously inadvertent on Bing/Yahoo's part - and possibly genius on the part of the porn promoters - but the fact that the #2 and #3 search engines are prone to such mistakes is cause for concern. It's not just the fact that most parents wouldn't want their children unintentionally stumbling on this type of content, what about webmasters? How confident can a business owner be in the search engine's ability to index their site properly when they screw up even little things like this? How must plumbers feel when they see something like this? Really Bing, you're only showing a small 5-count local pack in order to leave space for NSFW (not safe for work
All of this isn't to say that Google is immune
to these slip-ups, but it seems like a rarer occasion when their mistakes are inappropriate for young audiences
. In fact, for the longest time they were showing a photo of Alaska
when you searched for 'lake champlain' (finally resolved btw
), but at least they weren't showing an Inuit wet t-shirt contest video.
The point is, it's always a little frustrating for those of us that follow white-hat legitimate SEO techniques to boost the rankings of our websites in the search engines, when the search engines themselves are constantly messing up. At the same time, we all bow at the alter of the search engines because they are the conduits that funnel visitors to our sites.