So by now you’ve heard that Microsoft launched Bing a couple of days earlier than what was (most recently) expected. I’ve read a few other SEO news bloggers who’ve summarized the initial feedback saying it was generally positive – that Microsoft had improved their search product over the most recent Live search product, though it likely wasn’t a Google killer. In fact, many would say that there is no search product that would be a Google killer. I’d probably agree. I think the only thing that would de-throne Google anytime soon would be some sort of PR crisis or major technical lapse. I don’t see either happening.
That said, an improved product from Microsoft (Bing) could increase their share a bit more, and it seems like that is the idea behind Bing. Microsoft seem to have realistic expectations here.
Okay so enough about this background… what’s Bing mean to people who practice SEO and online lead generation for a living? Well after about 30 minutes of messing around with it here are my thoughts…
- Inbound Anchor Text seems to be weighted heavily… though this was always something MSN/Live really favored.
- Lots of weight seem to be given to keywords in domain names. Not like Google does with exact-match domains, but still keywords seem to have weight here. I’ve seen several pages that had few links rank on what appears to be mostly just content and a keyword optimized domain name. Seems to count for subdomains too, to some extent.
- It seems fairly similar to the old MSN and Live Search… in terms of optimization and SERPs – I ran a rankings report on a client from May 26 and then again today on June 2. The first was pre-Bing (using Live’s SERPs) and the second was post-Bing. There were very few ranking changes on about 30 keywords, and the only real changes were up a couple of slots or down a couple of slots. In the past I’ve always thought MSN was more favoring of inbound anchor text and on-page optimization. At least the former seems to still hold true.
- It does not value general domain weight/trust as much as Google. No further explanation here. Sure Wikipedia still gets its share, but the Stanford PhD in Paleobiology is not crushing me in Bing like he is in Google. I also noticed that MySpace and Facebook seem to be much less prominent for name searches than in Google, which I believe is again tied to overall “domain trust”. Bing seems to associate some of this with topic though, as some topical authorities still rank well.
- The title of a listing will sometimes feature inbound anchor text instead of the <title> tag. Like Google does with the ODP title, Bing seems to do this. If you search on “Blue Widgets” and the page www.site.com/blue-widgets/ is ranking, its title in Bing might be “Blue Widgets” whereas the <title> tag on that page could be “Great Widgets – Blue, Green, Yellow and More”… provided there is anchor text from another page on the web pointing to the site with “Blue Widgets”.
- All-Flash or Mostly-Flash sites seem to rank better than in Google. Perhaps this is due to their optimization of #1 and #2 above, and less reliance on on-page content? I saw a couple of Flash sites rank with virtually no on-page content.
- MUCH nicer UI and handy features. - I’m not a guy who is impressed by features in the search results… or at least I thought I wasn’t. I think Bing has done a great job here of anticipation your intention and laying out the different components of the results page, utilizing a left-side column area and the middle results region. Indeed, I think they do this better than Google does. Or maybe I’m just resistant to any changes in Google’s UI. Whatever the case, I think Bing has a leg up on Google here. I don’t think this alone amounts to a whole lot though in terms of market share, etc.
Your thoughts and observations?