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While Microsoft’s BING search engine isn’t exactly news, I thought I’d share my initial thoughts concerning it’s appearance on the scene.

Bing has brought a traffic increase to Microsoft. Exciting news for them, but don’t get excited yet! Whether you are in the business of Internet marketing or simply looking into your options for hiring an internet marketing firm, consider the following:

  • Making the Switch– before everyone rushes over to BING for their marketing needs, be it Pay Per Click or not, there are a lot of facets to each engine. While Yahoo! has been at bay in the number 2 spot under Google for a long time, there are many campaigns that don’t work on Google and do work on Yahoo! Just because a site is bigger does not make it better, and while jumping on any given bandwagon may seem like a good plan, there is no rush. Should BING continue in its success, it will only further establish the engine, and thus, it will still be there later on. Still, if you’re one of the people that can’t wait to dive into a new channel and truly believes that a new engine is the way to go, there are other things to consider first.
  • Duplicate Content– On a Google search, as a primary example, you will find multiple links to the same site. Between all links to the same domain, there will be home page links, interior links, and potentially file links, like .pdf files and the like. BING, however, is a different story. As of recently, the BING algorithm is designed to remove duplicate content, for the purpose of only showing the most relevant page on a given site matching the search query. This may or may not be a good thing for your site. Many sites might have many similar products or services listed on the home page or on interior pages, in which case a direct link to one product might not be optimal. For eCommerce sites, this could improve ROI since, assuming the product or service page is most relevant to the search terms, such a user would be inspired to buy the product or sign up right then and there. For some businesses, however, browsing is all part of the purchase process, so taking users directly to a product page may very well give them the impression that this is the only option they have. However, even under this circumstances, site optimization will play a role in the success of your online marketing efforts.
  • Site Optimization – Another thing to consider is the layout and organization of your site. Suppose users land on interior pages but do not find what they are looking for – are they easily able to access the home page, other similar products or services, and category pages from all corners of the site? It’s often difficult to find a perfect balance between enough options and too many options – and a website can become quite cluttered with too many links and poor layout / design, so a smart plan of action is to have a professional website, designed by an experience firm that not only understands design concepts and techniques, but it familiar also with Internet marketing strategies that must be implemented on-site. Whether you BING or not, be sure you or your hired marketing firm understands how the search engine being utilized works, and optimizes the site for such engines to return the best results.
  • Content– Thus far, it is rumored that BING weighs on-site content over all. This means that a site featuring picture galleries without ample description, sites lacking company’s information, and sites without rich context may be penalized for it. This doesn’t denote a negative effect on rank – just the absence of a positive one. Be sure there is rich on-site content to accompany all the beautiful pictures of your products, staff, facilities, etc. A site should read well in your language, because this is what search engines look for.
  • Complaints – Despite its swift jump to #2, BING has still received many complaints about how the engine ranks sites. For example, with giving equal weight to interior and home pages on a site, it may find a lower-ranking interior page to be more relevant, and therefore return that page lower in search results, where as a search engine like Google, which displays both interior and home pages, factors in the home page rank as well when considering the position of results. Another problem that many might find with BING, although not quite an official outcry from users, is the weight it gives to interior links compared to the weight it gives to external links. In recent years, it’s always been understood that while on-site SEO is important, it should not factor into rank as much as relevance. On BING, however, it seems that proper linking structure within a site will do more for your rank and relevance than it will on Google, which is known for giving much more weight to exterior links for both rank and relevance. This might be a problem, or it might be good for those with well-optimized websites.
  • Pay Per Clickon BING – As I mentioned above, BING’s algorithm is quite unique compared to Google and Yahoo, so for anyone planning to experiment with a PPC campaign on BING, approach with caution. I would not recommend ending a PPC campaign on Google or Yahoo just to replace it with one on BING. I’ve always said that exploring the options is a good way to feel things out and find what works for each business, so I would encourage delegating some budget, or even better, increasing a budget to see what BING can actually do for your company – just don’t put all of your eggs into this basket because it’s fresh and new.

All in all, I’m impressed with BING, but I can’t say I’m surprised at all. Microsoft has been around for a long time and they obviously know their way around IT. I’d say that a gradual transition is best, but even better when managed by an experienced Internet marketing firm.

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