A persistent complaint of Google critics is that the company seems to be favoring its “own properties” in search results. This has been an issue for a while now, as well as the subject of antitrust investigation in the US and Europe. There was a recent study conducted by developer Daniel Aleksandersen that found that three search engines that are both owned and operated by Verizon Media (Yahoo, AOL, OneSearch) systematically favor Verizon-owned media properties in results.
In this small study, it seemed to produce “search bias” evidence in ranking of organic results. Each of Verizon’s engines are powered by Bing. The same queries were tested across each of Verizon search sites and third-party (FindX and Lilo), which is powered by Bing results, as well as Bing itself. Google-powered Startpage was also not overlooked in the study.
The image below shows the distribution of results on three of these engines, Verizon-owned, Bing-powered third-party sites and Google-powered.
According to Aleksandersen’s, “Verizon Media-properties [i.e., Engadget, HuffPost and TechCrunch] had a median search result position of 1 and an average position of 2.8 in Verizon Media-owned search engines.” In the left column in the chart, Verizon-owned properties are clustered at the top of the organic listings.
He also said that the “three Bing-powered control search engines rank Verizon Media-properties consistently lower with a median position of 4 and an average of 9.4.” (The Google-powered results also show a different distribution, albeit somewhat closer to the Verizon search sites.)
It would seem that if all six tested engines are “powered by Bing,” then there would be, at the very least, similar distribution of organic results. But it seems that they do not.