Microsoft’s massive marketing engine has brought the world of search into the public eye with the launch of Bing. Bing has been labeled as not a search engine, but rather a “decision engine” – that is, capable of delivering intelligent results, rather than simply aggregated data. It’s MSN’s latest attempt to take on Google, and Bing is equipped with some pretty fierce weaponry for the job.
Attracting Traffic In A Sea of Options
From a business standpoint, the advent of engines like Bing and Google means a dramatic shift in the amount of information available to customers. Marketers and webmasters will have to adapt to users having a much larger set of options and greater access to detailed information. A great example is Bing’s “Related Searches” options displayed on their results page – not only related searches, but subsets of similar information.
Case in point: your vintage car dealership may hold the number 1 position on the search results page for the term “1966 GTO.” In Google, this is great! Related searches are listed at the bottom of Google’s search results page, and anyone looking for anything dealing with a ’66 GTO is likely to click through to your site – simply because it’s in the first position.
But in Bing, the related searches are listed directly alongside the results! Say someone is looking for a panel for their ’66 GTO, so they go to Bing and type in a more general search query, like “1966 GTO”. When the search results page comes up, the user sees “1966 GTO body parts” displayed directly to the left of your website. Since that’s what they’re really looking for, they click, and boom – they’re off on another, more relevant search, and your #1 position listing goes sadly unclicked. More than ever before, it’s important to anticipate (as specifically as possible) what people are truly seeking, and optimize around that.
Learning How Bing Ranks Pages
But for many folks, the big question is still the same: how can I rank highly in Bing search results? Early analysis of Bing shows that when determining ranking, the engine is actually much more strict than MSN’s previous incarnation, and perhaps even harsher than Google! A report from Tim Grice at SEO Wizz indicates that Bing places lots of emphasis on domain age – that is, how long your website has been around.
Oddly enough, Bing seems to pay less attention to incoming links (other sites linking to your page). This is contrary to Google’s appreciation for a keyword-rich, widely distributed network of incoming links. This ranking technique, among other innovations, made Google into the search juggernaut it is today – it’s quite interesting to see Bing taking a different approach.
There’s also some evidence that page titles, text-heavy pages, and even lots of outbound links to other sites (a no-no for Google) have much greater importance in Bing than other engines. Of course, this is essentially a brand new engine attempting to topple the search behemoth – expect to see some volatility in Bing’s algorithms (as well as Google and Yahoo!) as the dust clears.