Feb 21

Bing: Poor Grammar & Typos May Result In Lower Search Rankings

bing-satori-knowledge2-featuredDuane Forrester from Bing wrote a blog post on the Bing Webmaster Blog suggesting that Bing’s search ranking algorithms do in fact consider poor grammar, typos and poor language to be part of their ranking factors.

Duane said, “just as you’re judging others’ writing, so the engines judge yours.” Meaning, Bing does look at how a page of content is written. If the page has typos, grammar issues and so forth, to the extent that it might stop a reader from reading on – then it might also negatively hurt your rankings in Bing. Duane wrote:

If you [as a human] struggle to get past typos, why would an engine show a page of content with errors higher in the rankings when other pages of error free content exist to serve the searcher?

Duane added that the search engines “over time we begin to see patterns.” If those patterns show poor grammar page after page, day after day, then it might have a stronger negative impact on rankings.

Google On Grammar & Rankings

This is contrast to Google is a different story, at least from what we’ve covered. Yes, Google’s Panda algorithm is about having quality content. But is quality the same thing as not having typos? It is unclear with Google at least.

In October 2011, Matt Cutts said while there is a correlation between spelling and PageRank, the core algorithm currently (back in 2011) does not use grammar as a “direct signal.” Google’s Matt Cutts added earlier this month that poor grammar in comments also does not negatively hurt your rankings in Google.

It seems Bing is taking a stronger stance on grammar and typos compared to Google’s stance.

Feb 20

Bing Webmaster Guidelines Updated To Include Demotions For Keyword Stuffing

bing-featuredBing has quietly updated their Webmaster Guidelines to include a stern warning to webmasters who think they can use keyword stuffing techniques to manipulate their rankings and get away with it.

The warning says Bing may demote the site or delist the site that is using keyword stuffing. The new section was added sometime yesterday to their guidelines document.

Here is the new keyword stuffing section:

When creating content, make sure to create your content for real users and readers, not to entice search engines to rank your content better. Stuffing your content with specific keywords with the sole intent of artificially inflating the probability of ranking for specific search terms is in violation of our guidelines and can lead to demotion or even the delisting of your website from our search results.

As you can see, Bing is not playing games. If you use keyword stuffing, it can “lead to demotion or even the delisting of your website.”

Hat tip to +Menashe Avramov for informing me about this update.

Related Stories:

Feb 17

Bing: Don’t Be Held Hostage Over The Perfect Domain Name

Bing logoDuane Forrester, Bing’s Senior Product Manager, posted on the Bing Webmaster Blog that you should not be too crazed over picking an expensive domain name for your new web site.

He said, even when you buy old domain names that are pricy, those domain names may have some bad history. Domain names with bad history can actually be a negative and thus less valuable than brand new domain names never used. He recommends you check the Way Back Machine when investigating what content was on the domain prior to buying it.

He also recommends that you don’t spend your whole budget on your domain name for your new website. Duane said, “It’s worth thinking about, and making a thoughtful purchase when you can, but that needs to be balanced against the bigger picture of your business.”

Duane adds, “the point here is that with a bit of creativity, you could find the perfect domain very cheaply.”

Jan 16

Bing: It’s A Myth That Keyword Rich Domain Names Improve Search Rankings

bing-2013-logo-featuredMicrosoft Bing’s Senior Product Manager, Duane Forrester, wrote last night at the Bing Webmaster Blog that it is only a myth that in today’s ranking algorithms that a keyword rich domain name will make enough of an impact on your rankings to give you a major boost above your competitors.

Duane said that maybe “10 years ago” there was some truth to that but today – that is not the case.

The domain and keywords in that “domain send less and less” ranking signals to the overall Bing ranking algorithm. Duane said this is a good thing because the other signals can rank sites based on better merits than the words in a domain name plus “it’s better simply because those sites trying to abuse their way to the top with a keyword rich domain and irrelevant or poor content cease to rank well.”

But it doesn’t mean having keywords in a domain name is bad. Duane said it is important to do what is best for your users.

Nov 11

Bing’s New Music Video Search Results Page Showcases Popular Videos With Related Artists & Albums Lists

Bing has rolled out a new music video search results page today. From now on, when searching for a music video by song title, artist or album, users will see the following box at the top of their search results, showcasing the “most popular” music video related to the search, along with details and a list of “Top Songs” connected to the video.

Bing music video

Bing says it is showcasing videos from, “Leading sites including YouTube, Vimeo, MTV, Artist Direct and more.” The subsequent videos listed under the featured video are sorted by relevancy based a user’s search by song title, artist or album. Bing Music Video results

Users can preview a video and see more details without having to click on a search result by mousing over a video link, as shown here with a preview of U2′s video for Sweetest Thing.

Bing music video results mouse over

The new music video search results page also includes a related artists and a related albums list, offering users a chance to explore more content.

Bing music video search related artists albums lists

As an added feature, Bing has assembled certain videos according to how the songs were compiled on an album. Using Pink Floyd’s classic Dark Side of the Moon as an example, Bing lists songs from the album in their original order along with the featured video.

Bing music video Dark side of the moon

Claiming more than 1.7 million songs, 70,000 artists and a half million albums, Bing boasts it has, “the most comprehensive set of videos possible spanning genres, decades and geography.”

Oct 11

Bing Gets ‘Klout-orship” As Verified Klout Snapshots Now Identify Authors & Content In Bing

Klout has becoming a much more powerful tool than simply measuring social significance. Bing and Klout have teamed up to form a puesdo-authorship alliance that will appear in the search results pages. A new Klout-verified ‘Snapshot’ will show in Bing along with social icons, Klout scores and even the two most influential public moments from Twitter over the past 7 days and the best of your Instagram feed over the past 3 months.

According to an official Klout blog post, this integration this is a significant partnership for Bing users:

“Search is one of the most common ways that information about you is discovered by other people. Snapshots on Bing enable anyone who signs up on Klout to verify and manage how they appear in Bing search results, based on their public social network profiles.”Snapshot. Now, when someone searches for you on Bing, your Klout-verified Snapshot

According to Klout, your Klout snapshot will display  next to the search results for user’s:”

  • Public LinkedIn summary
  •  Connected social profiles
  • Klout Score and influential topics

Registered users will have the ability to turn off “moments” and tweaking the networks that they connect with if they prefer.

The functionality is live today and can be set up by following these steps:

Klout-Finn

  • Own a LinkedIn Account
  • Have a Klout Account
  • Connect your LinkedIn Account to your Klout account. Start here.
  • You can then begin confirming tags that can appear on Bing directly within Klout:

Tag-Pages-Bing

For more information, see the official Klout blog post.

Oct 11

Bing SEO Ranking Factors 2013 Study By SearchMetrics

searchmetrics-bing-ranking-factorsSearchmetrics has released their SEO ranking factors for Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, today. Similar to their Google ranking factors, Searchmetrics analyzed 10,000 popular keywords and 300,000 websites appearing in the top 30 search results and looked at how various factors correlated with rankings.

The top five key findings were:

(1) Top brands rank higher on Bing, as they do in Google.

(2) Backlink numbers are closely linked to higher rankings on Bing

(3) Social signals closely linked to higher rankings

(4) Quality content is important for search rankings

(5) On page technical factors are a must have

Here is a chart showing the Bing ranking factors by importance:

Bing v Google rank correlation chart_Jul13

The interesting part also is that when Searchmetrics compared the first page of search results on Bing and Google, they showed that 24.7% of the URLs listed were the same and 37.3% of the domains were the same. This clearly shows there is a difference in the results between Google and Bing.

Other Ranking Studies

Sep 13

Bing Tests Sub Secondary Level Deep Links In Search Listings

bing-logoBing is running an experiment with their deep links in the search results.

Now Bing is testing displaying sub or secondary level deep links for some search results.

That means that under a search listing that has deep links, you may see additional sub-level deep links beneath the main deep links.

Here is a picture from @tecnonetblog:

bing-sitelinks-new-1379075552

Bing recently experimented with deep links in the search box overlay.

Related Stories:

Sep 09

Bing Details Four Ways Not To Build Links

bing-fix-repair-health-featured Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft Bing, wrote a blog post on the Bing Webmaster Blog, detailing four ways you do not want to build links to your site.

The four ways not to build links by Bing include:

(1) Blind Requests: Don’t simply mass or template email web sites blindly for links. Don’t buy email lists and send out a mass email asking these webmasters and web sites to link to you.

(2) Blog/Forum Comments: Don’t drop links in blog comments or forum threads, said Bing. Duane said it simply will not help you rank better in the search results.

(3) Link Injection: This is a spam tactic of hacking into a site and injecting links into the content. It can be link injection into the header or footer or even directly into the body content. That being said, Bing is suggesting you make sure your CMS software is up to date and secure.

(4) Guest Blogging: Bing is not saying that guest blogging is bad, they are saying that if your intent is to do it for the links, then don’t. Duane said, “if you’re going to guest blog, best to do it with the intention to build your brand, drive traffic and create awareness. Doing it to bolster your SEO efforts is a #FAIL these days.”

Of course, Google said the same regarding guest blog linking.

Jul 01

Google’s PR Problem Is Bing’s Opportunity

Google has a PR problem. No, I don’t mean PageRank. I’m talking about the original definition of PR – Public Relations. And, it’s maybe less Public Relations than it is Webmaster Relations.

You see, Google hasn’t done a good job of balancing content about problems with content about successes and improvements. They haven’t really needed to — with 70% market share of search, there wasn’t a competitor in sight.

But, as Bing gains market share (both in general and through their partnerships with FaceBook and Siri), Google is going to need to pay more attention to their communication strategy.

Webmasters' Love/Hate relationship with Google and Bing

Webmasters’ Love/Hate relationship with Google and Bing

Years ago, webmasters had no way to communicate with Google. They could analyze logfiles and write their own little programs to apply fixes to their sites, but there was no opportunity to get data from Google directly.

Enter Webmaster Tools & Matt Cutts

Now, we have Webmaster Tools in all its glory – and with all its flaws.

We have the Google Webmasters YouTube channel, where Matt Cutts (Google’s appointed spokesperson) provides cryptic feedback that we then must analyze and decipher. We can even watch the @mattcutts Twitter feed and attempt to spin anything Matt says into the next big thing. All of this is great, and webmasters and SEOs alike are grateful for the information.

But Google has a content marketing challenge that’s born out of their organizational structure. Their content is significantly skewed toward what webmasters are doing wrong, rather than praising them for what they’re doing right. This is a difficult line to walk, because how do you publicize good? It’s not actionable unless they tell us what we can do better.

Even Matt Cutts, who is frequently (incorrectly) labeled Head of Search Quality is actually Head of Web spam. That’s right, spam – and all the negativity that goes with it.

We don’t get to engage directly with the search quality team. Matt is happy to pass on messages, but that’s really all he can do. We don’t get to hear directly from the people who are trying to improve the algorithm’s recognition of “good sites.” And while there are plenty of examples of sites that have done wrong, there are very few examples of sites that have done right.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying Matt isn’t great at PR, because frankly, he’s amazing.

It’s just that Googlers in general are so well trained to stick to the company line and not give too much away that I think they must be stress-tested internally on a regular basis. But because of this, every time Matt Cutts gives one of his famous non-answers or posts on his Twitter feed about some new tweak to the algorithm, it’s perceived as a negative.

With the last Penguin update, there was a great deal of backlash. People were saying, “Why don’t you stop focusing on those who are in the wrong and start rewarding those who are in the right?” The answer is: that’s not Matt’s job.

There are people at Google who are figuring out ways to reward good sites, but the only one we get to talk to is Matt. And it’s his job to rid the world (or at least the Internet) of spam, not to pat us on the head and say we’re doing a great job. That’s not necessarily the only thing Matt wants to be doing. As you can glean from this Twitter conversation, he has ideas that he wants to act on:

mattcutts-ceoforday

But he does hate spam:

mattcutts-hates-spam

Bing & Duane Forrester

Bing, on the other hand, does a very good job of communicating the positive. Their spokesman, Duane Forrester, is Senior Program Manager and Manager of Bing Webmaster Tools. And while he and Matt are both nice guys who mean well, Duane gets a lot more opportunity to tell us about the good and exciting things Bing is doing.

Bing needs this positive PR a bit more than Google, and their PR strategy is much better balanced in terms of how they communicate with webmasters. Their language is softer and more positively oriented:

We like to give Duane a hard time at conferences, and joke that there actually is another search engine besides Google, but the fact is that Duane is more able to communicate with webmasters on what good search quality means, and Bing Webmaster Tools gives webmasters more data than Google Webmaster Tools does. (If only the sample set were larger!)

A Love/Hate Relationship

All of this contributes to our love/hate relationships with Google and Bing. We love Google because they give us great tools and they drive the majority of our traffic. But, we hate the one-sidedness of the communication.

We love Bing because of the great tools and communication they offer, but wish the sample size was bigger. As Bing grows, Google may have to leave behind their strategy of only communicating in cryptic messages like the one below.

wmt-message

In the future, instead of hearing Matt Cutts give “negative quality” ideas, like this recent one from YouTube

rosshudgens-negative-quality

… maybe he could provide some positive quality signs and even some examples of positive sites to emulate.

CEO For A Day?

If I were to win the Google “CEO for a day” contest, aside from going on a mad shopping spree and giving back not-provided keyword data in some form, I’d change Matt’s title. He obviously has ideas, and while he does hate spam, he also appreciates quality. I’d give him the leeway to communicate in a positive way about Google’s search improvements, instead of having him focus only on spam.

Perhaps a yin to his yang could be Maile Ohye, a little known Googler who is focused on improving Google for developers (her title is Developer Programs Tech Lead). She’s who we have to thank for canonical tags and various other “fixes” for the daily challenges that developers face. She regularly speaks at SMX events, but isn’t visible much beyond that.

Perhaps Matt said it best at SXSW this year (and previously in this video), when he suggested renaming “search engine optimization” to “search experience optimization.” Now that’s a positive message – one that infers that good experiences will be rewarded. But it doesn’t fit with Web spam, so that’s probably all we’ll hear about it from Matt.

Another Googler needs to pick up that torch and run with it. Imagine how positive Google’s communication and results could be if they were able to evangelize that thinking – experience over anything else. I’ve long said that all good SEO tactics are rooted in the principles of usability. Google has the reach and the power to make this new definition of SEO a reality, if only they would publicize the message.