Stop Sign

Thanks to the big brand-named algorithm updates, Google has definitely been at the forefront of the link building discussion recently, but obviously the other search engines have their own opinions as well.

As Search Engine Land reports, Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager for Bing, recently wrote a post on the Bing Webmaster Blog detailing the four worst link building techniques and why you shouldn’t do them.

Unsurprisingly, these link building strategies are largely in line with the methods Google has been fighting more publicly. Nonetheless, it is important to highlight the more spammy methods people are still using to try to boost their link profile.

  1. Blind Requests – Links aren’t something that should just be given out. Sending mass template emails to websites is about as spammy as you can get. The only people who will respond are those who won’t give you a quality link. Buying email lists to try to send out mass requests is an even bigger waste of funds that really won’t get you far, but could likely incur some penalties.
  2. Blog/Forum Comments – Some link builders will try to drop links almost randomly into blog comments and forum conversations, but these won’t improve your rankings a single bit. The search engines have been aware of the practice for some time now.
  3. Link Injection – This is a tactic used by spammers where sites are hacked and links are injected into content such as headers or footers. Some will even push links directly into the body content. Bing does encourage keeping your CMS software up to date and secure, but they also try to take precautions on their side against this tactic.
  4. Guest Blogging – This is one of the more controversial link building strategies because it isn’t explicitly bad. The problem is, if your focus with guest blogging is to build links, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Forrester explains, “if you’re going to guest blog, best to do it with the intention to buildyour brand, drive traffic, and create awareness. Doing it to bolster your SEO efforts is a #FAIL these days.”

Bing has been regularly growing its market share over the past year, but don’t think it is at the expense of Google. In June, Bing’s share of all searches went up to 17.9 percent, but it was Yahoo who dropped to 11.4 percent, according to comScore. Yahoo lost exactly as much search as Bing gained, which may not have been what Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was hoping for when they signed the search deal with Microsoft.

Earlier this year, Mayer said, “One of the points of the alliance is that we collectively want to grow share rather than just trading share with each other. We need to see monetization working better because we know that it can and we’ve seen other competitors in the space illustrate how well it can work.”

Meanwhile, as Search Engine Watch reports, Google has held steady with exactly two-thirds of the market share, though it is down .1 percent from last year’s June share of 66.8 percent.

In 2012, Bing held 15.6 percent of the market, but they have been making regular gains, almost exclusively at the expense of smaller search engines. Yahoo on the other hand is at an all-time low, down from 13 percent last year.

It’s been a week since Microsoft dropped their “Scroogle” attack ads aimed at Google, but they are still running their “Bing It On” challenge trying to convince searchers that Bing is superior to Google. Yet, all of Microsoft’s attempts don’t seem to be working. Despite Microsoft saying Bing It On testers preferred Bing 2:1, Google continues to claim well over half of all searches.

This has Greg Sterling from Search Engine Land wondering why no one believes Microsoft’s and other competitor’s “Better Than Google” claims. Is Google’s brand just that strong? Does it come out of habit?

The most obvious reason people don’t buy Bing’s campaign is they are blatantly aware it is all marketing. They used the same principle as a blind taste test, but those types of tests don’t come off as explicitly biased as a website “blind” test. Just to get to the test you have to go to a website with Bing in the name.

No one is going to trust Bing’s statistics when they are that blatant about the test. There is nothing blind about going to “Bingiton.com“. It also doesn’t help that there is a big disclaimer at the bottom of the search page explaining how the test doesn’t use the full search capabilities of either engine.

Bing It On

Google believes part of the reason users aren’t responding to Microsoft’s negative marketing is customers respond better to companies that “focus on building good products” rather than slinging mud. While Google remained as silent as possible on the “Scroogle” ads while they ran, now that they have been stopped, Google search chief Amit Singhal finally spoke about the issue at a SXSW conference, when taking questions from Twitter. “We focus on our users.”

Google’s right, customers don’t respond to negative marketing campaigns against well established brands as well as they respond to the new and innovative products Google is producing.

But, what about independent studies? A recent study by Butler University found that not only did Bing have better quality answers according to their criteria, but so did ChaCha, Ask.com, Bing, and Yahoo. Why has this type of study not put a huge thorn in Google’s side? One reason is Google’s incredibly strong brand. There is also the “Google Habit” or the comfort with the interface, but more than anything it is personal experience.

ChaCha may have better answers, but most users will agree it is not convenient enough for when you need to make a quick search and find a simple answer. Bing has been making users uncomfortable with their blatant attack ads, and any survey that puts Ask.com ahead of Bing, Yahoo, and Google will be heavily doubted in this age. The website lost its reputation years ago as other search engines grew, and it never regained it, just as Yahoo has steadily lost its market share to Google.

The only companies that can compete against Google are equally strong brands such as Amazon and Apple. Google is so well established in the American market, that it is hard to believe any study reporting that there are a handful of “better” ways to search. But, Google didn’t just install itself into ourcollective hive mind. Google is trusted because they offer a search engine users are pleased with, and they are constantly innovating new and exciting products. If they ever stop innovating, Bing might have a shot. Until then, attack ads and over the top marketing campaigns aren’t going to do much.

Bing published their first set of webmaster guidelines in the Help section of Bing’s Webmaster Tools to offer guidance on the best SEO practices for their search engine.

While not nearly as detailed as Google’s webmaster guidelines, hat is seemingly on purpose. According to Matt McGee at Search Engine Land, Bing aims these guidelines at “business owners” to help them “understand the broad strokes of search marketing.”

For more detailed information, look into Bing’s Webmaster FAQ’s.

 

We’ve talked quite a bit about the quickly growing use of mobile devices to search the web. The latest reports show between 10% to 20% of all traffic on the web, and some popular websites, claim that roughly a fourth of their traffic is coming from mobile devices, if you include tablets.

Of course, this all shows that ignoring mobile web use at this point is not a good decision. Those that are innovating in the field of mobile optimization will have a much brighter future than those that continue to resist the mobile shift. The sooner you optimize your site for mobile use, the better chances your company will do well in the future.

There are two factors that differentiate mobile devices from other traditional computing devices. They both are obvious, but both factors have undeniably huge effects on users’ web experiences. The first is portability. Since mobile users are accessing the web on the go, their current location and activities become important to what they are accessing online. The second factor is screen size. Mobile screens do seem to be getting larger, but they will never go anywhere near standard computer screen size. Take advantage of screen size limitations of mobile users, rather than fight it.

With between 15-20% of all searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. coming from mobile users, how does that change search behavior?

Search Behavior Due to Location

Microsoft’s research has found that 30% of all mobile searches are related to their location, and 61% of searches end in a phone call. Like I said, a person’s locations and activities are clearly important to mobile user’s.

Of course, the recent changes to search engines have made great strides to customize search results based on user’s locations, but you should still make an effort to specify your business’s location on search engines using their web master settings.

The major search engines also look for location signals from the title and text present on a website. If you own a local business, make it easy for them to find these signals. Emphasize the location on the site so search engines prioritize your website in search results around your area.

Can you still take advantage of mobile users’ locations even if your business has more than one location? Of course!

If your business has multiple locations, you should be creating internal pages for your different locations, with a present hierarchy starting from the homepage so that search engines will notice the location specific pages too. You will still have to deal with standard issues such as speed, relevance, and backlinks, but taking advantage of location will help get individual pages ranked based on where your users may be.

Search Behavior Due to Screen Size

Screen size contstraints are a more physical limitation, but it strongly effects how people search and visit pages. The clearest difference between mobile and desktop search is the number of paid results and advertisments. On most search engines, there are far less paid ads on mobile because of the screen size. That means organic results on mobile are more important than on desktop.

Screen size also limits the number of results you recieve at any given moment. On a typical smartphone you can only see a few results at a time. Desktops give users a broad range of results immediately, but on mobile the top three results are key. Mobile users are not prone to research, and they rarely go past the first page of results, so it is important to get your page as high in the rankings as possible.

Search behavior on mobiles are certainly unique from their desktop counterparts, and mobile requires a similarly unique SEO strategy. Of course, desktop is still important, so the best way to approach the issue is by creating a seperate mobile site that is optimized for mobile user experience. The longer you wait to optimize, the more trouble you will have later.

For more, read Paras Chopra’s article at Search Engine Land.

 

The “Pepsi Challange” of the 1970’s and early 1980’s was a classic marketing move that created tons of similar advertising campaigns. In the challenge, Pepsi went to popular areas like shopping malls and had public participate in blind taste tests, in which people seemed to prefer Pepsi over Coke.

Microsoft is now using a similar marketing campaign with Bing. The new campaign, available at BingItOn.com, allows people to blindly compare search results side-by-side on the same page. Microsoft is even claiming people so far choose Bing 2:1 over Google. Microsoft believes that Bing is a higher quality search engine and are trying to convince the public to “break the Google habit.” They are even offering prizes for those who take the challenge.

First, you enter a query or choose from a list of suggested searches, and the site presents you with two sets of unbranded results. Then, you decide which you prefer. After you’ve done this five times, the site will tell you which search engine you chose.

The site doesn’t let you have the full capabilities of either website, but focuses only on basic searching and results.

 

To see the original article:
Bing Offers Own Version Of “Pepsi Challenge” Against Google: “Bing It On”

You may have heard about this, but Bing and Facebook have joined forces, and now Bing is going to start displaying results based on Facebook posts.

Read more

This was something that had been coming, but it was unknown exactly when the date would be.  Yahoo and Microsoft have made an alliance.  It’s called the “Search Alliance”.  Originally it was intended as a unification for paid advertisements, but it’s clear now that the unification is for both paid and organic listings; do a search on both Yahoo and Bing for a keyword phrase, and the results are now identical.

Read more

The news is out, Google is not a fan of Microsoft Windows. The main reason is security concerns, the vulnerability that is present with the hackability of the operating system. Read more

Google’s making some changes to their standard search results, to include a left hand nav bar.  This has made some people (including Business Insider) wonder if it’s to imitate what Bing already has in place – a side panel to have different links for images, videos, etc.

This change will affect how people view results in general, although Google’s advertising approach will likely not change heavily.  We’ll have to see what the response is when they go fully live with these changes.

You can see Google’s words on the new SERPs here: