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Optimizing for Bing in 2010 - Part I
Friday, September 17, 2010
I have been in the Search Engine industry for the better part of the past decade.  I have seen a lot of changes, some good and some not so good.  I have seen dominant players falter (i.e. AOL and Yahoo) and emerging new technologies (i.e. YouTube) innovate the way we share and absorb information.  During this time I have watched and waited for Microsoft to do something significant with their Search platform. 

From 1998, when they were known as MSN Search where they obtained their results from technologies like Inktomi to 2006 when they re-branded as Live Search providing terrible search results to June 2009 and the coming of Bing.  From there a ``partnership``with Yahoo.  There has been a lot of change with Microsoft`s search efforts.  A couple of these events even made our list of the top 10 moments in search engine evolution.

During this time Microsoft has struggled to achieve market share in the search space.  If we go back a couple of years to September 2007, we see that Microsoft had a 10.3% market share in the US.  A year later, they dropped to 8.5%, last year Bing managed to jump up back to 9.4% but still a distant third place to Google and Yahoo.  Currently Microsoft`s Bing by itself sits at around 11.1% market share.  This number increases to 28.5% if we include Yahoo.  (Based on comScore data).

So enter June 2009 and the most recent incarnation of Microsoft`s search engine, Bing, the so-called decision engine is launched.  The release of Bing was met with many positive reviews as a great improvement over Live Search.  The way we see it, Microsoft`s search platform could not have gotten any worse.  The one issue that I have had with MSN, Live Search and Bing was the search results.  I still feel that while it has gotten better, there is still a long way to go to provide more relevant search results.  However, the same could be said for Google, especially in the light of things like Google Instant, a nice attempt but frankly a distraction.  The fact is that in Bing, Microsoft`s search offering has improved.  With the latest launch of IE 9, Bing has promised an ever better search experience, so the need to optimize for Bing is a reality.

Last month marked the official launch of Bing providing Yahoo search results.  Well I think that is a step backwards for the search industry, but it does allow Bing results to reach a wider audience.  As a result for site owners, business owners, online marketers and SEO folk it means that there is a need to optimize for Bing results.  A few years back, we provided some tips on Live Search indexing guidelines, and now we thought that it was time to revisit optimization tips for Bing.

Do I Have to Optimize Differently for Bing than for Google?

This is a question that many people often ask, and traditionally the response has been that if you optimize for Google the rest (i.e. other engines) will take care of itself.  Well that is true to a certain degree, but the Bing algorithm is not the same as the Google algorithm so there are factors that while similar have different weighting as part of the respective search algorithms.

The fact of the matter is that there are three areas that you need to focus on for success.
  1. Content - creating useful, informative and unique content will always help you be found in the search engines providing that the search engines can effectively crawl and find this content.  All of you sites with your prime content behind login should really think about that approach.  Content will always be a part of the search equation.
  2. Site Architecture - again, make it easier for the crawlers to find your content.  While the crawlers have become more efficient in recent years and we expect no less when Bingbot is released in a couple of weeks, having a clean site architecture that is organized in a logical manner is never a bad thing.  As the folks at Bing have stated:
    The use of consistent data structures between pages on your website (such as placing similar data between pages using a similar tree structure, similar class names, support standard markup technologies, such as microformats, etc.) will also help improve the effectiveness of our crawler, which puts more of your content into our index.
  3. Link Authority - if you have read some of my previous posts on link popularity, you will know that I think too much emphasis is placed on link popularity, however generating quality and relevant links to your web properties can still mean why you have presence in the search results vs. why you may be nowhere to be found.
So in order to optimize for Bing, there are three things that require attention:

Content + Links + Architecture

Still wondering if you need to optimize for Bing?  Check out the findings from this post stemming for the recently confirmed news that Bing is fully powering Yahoo results.  To answer the question, do you need to optimize differently for Bing than Google, the answer is yes, but only slightly.  It is true that many SEO best practices used for Google will apply to Bing, but there are some additional practices that you can employ for further success.  We will discuss these in part two of Optimizing for Bing in 2010.

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