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Yesterday, Bing announced the addition of some really cool features that should make it more competitive with Google. That’s not to say we can expect an immediate turn around in search market share, but Bing could gain 1% or 2% over a year with these new features unless Google responds with similar features. Historically, however, when Google follows, they choke. They are much better when they lead.

Here are the new features being offered by Bing now:

  • Discover TED Talks – TED Talks are very popular. If you search for a person who has given a TED talk, you’ll get a Snapshot pane with that person’s biographical information, including a list of their TED talks.
  • Famous Speeches and National Anthems – Listen to them online right from Bing’s search engine. If you search for a famous statesman, you can listen to famous speeches by that person with just one click.
  • Online Courses – Find free online courses from top universities.
  • University Rankings
  • Scientific Concepts – Search for a scientific concept and you’ll get the definition and explanation of it right in the search results, which is similar to Google’s dictionary listings and weather reports.
  • Historic Events – Looking for a historical event? Get information on it right in the search results.
  • Related People – If you conduct a search and get a string of snapshots, you can hover over the images of the people and see how they’re related to your search.
  • Animal Research – Search for an animal and get a list with images of subspecies of that animal.
  • Ask Bing – Ask Bing a question and get the answer in the search results.
  • App and Software Downloads – If you’re searching for a piece of software or a particular app, Bing will point you to the safest websites for download.

All of these are useful for searchers, but how will they assist Internet marketers in putting their products and services in front of potential customers? We encourage you to play with these features on Bing and get familiar with them. Then you can put together a strategy for improving your search rankings based on how Bing appears to rank pages for these particular searches.

No doubt, you’ve heard of Google Authorship. You may have even implemented it. But have you heard of Bing Snapshots?

This is Bing’s answer to Google Authorship.

If you have a Klout account and a LinkedIn account, then you can implement Bing Snapshots. All you have to do is verify your Klout profile and tie it to your LinkedIn account so that when you share information on LinkedIn Klout can measure your influence. Then you can claim your Bing Snapshot at Klout.

Bing has implemented social signals and other “me too” type products after Google before. They haven’t really gained any ground on the search leader after doing so.

Of course, I don’t think many people ever thought they would.

I think it may be a good idea to claim a Bing Snapshot. After all, people do still use the search engine. And it never hurts to make yourself easier to find on any online media page where people are likely to search for you. After all, LinkedIn isn’t the most popular social network, but you likely have a profile there anyway.

It’s relatively easy to claim a Snapshot. And it doesn’t look like it’s a huge commitment to keep it maintained. So it should be painless, if you want one.

Google has said that it needs to transition from a search engine to a “knowledge engine.” This is essentially the same thing Bing says it wants to do. I think Google is closer to the goal than Bing, but Google got a head start.

A knowledge engine implies a destination whereas a “search” engine implies a conduit, a place you pass through to get to your destination. That’s an important distinction.

So how does Google plan to transition itself into a knowledge engine? The key to that transition is what they are calling the Knowledge Graph.

The Knowledge Graph is essentially a set of semantic search protocols based on semantic markup. This semantic markup is code you can add to your website to communicate with Google and Bing on what specific types of information exists in each section of your website. But it goes beyond that even.

Where traditional search was based on keywords being matched to queries made by people searching for information, semantic search relies on matching synonyms and concepts with search queries.

Semantic search attempts to eliminate the guesswork by tossing out non-relevant queries with matching keywords. Instead, it tries to judge the searcher’s intent based on previous search data, current session clicks, and other information. Google, and Bing to some extent, have already started retrieving information on these bases. It’s just a matter of time before they perfect it.

Search Engine Journal published an article today that discusses how the Bing ad tool can be used to make your PPC advertising on Bing and Yahoo! more effective and cost efficient. What I want to discuss regarding the article, however, has to do with the most frequently changed ad campaign changes, according to the Bing ad Editor Tool.

The top 5 most frequently Bing ad campaign items are:

  1. Keyword
  2. Ad content
  3. Negative keyword
  4. Location targeting
  5. Negative site

In that order.

This is an interesting list because it appears that keywords are changed a lot. When you consider that negative keywords are keywords you definitely do not want your ads to target, it makes you wonder why advertisers would change them. Are advertisers changing the keywords that are a part of their negative keyword lists, adding new negative keywords, or moving words from the keywords list to the negative keywords list?

Another interesting tidbit here is the location targeting change. Are advertisers changing the locations they want to target, adding new locations, or deleting locations? Probably, all of the above.

It’s hard to tell from this list and the lack of specific data whether advertisers are on the right track or wasting their time and money. One thing is for sure, if advertisers want to be successful on Bing or any other PPC ad network, changes to their ad campaigns are inevitable. PPC requires constant monitoring, and regular changes can be positive or negative.

Last week, Facebook introduced its new search feature, called Graph Search. I just read my first review of it today.

Greg Sterling gives it a thumbs up. I think his assessment, even though I haven’t used it myself, is pretty solid.

If I search on something that isn’t within the scope of Graph Search (e.g., plumbers) I’ll get Bing results. This is significant because people are going to start searching on anything and everything to see what happens and what comes up. It avoids the “no results” problem that might have undermined getting users to “come back” to Graph Search.

I’ll have to agree. The worst thing in the world for Facebook would be for users to get a bunch of “no results” results and stop using the feature.

Bing could very well increase its share of the search market if the Graph Search catches on, but I doubt that it will be a big leap. Even a 1% or 2% increase would be something. And if Greg Sterling is right that people will use Graph Search more broadly than Facebook intended, that will bode well for Facebook as well. You may very well see people using Facebook more than Google if they find positive results – at least with certain verticals like restaurant recommendations.

The main thing is competition. If there’s enough of it, then search will improve all around. For businesses, it means another way to be found by your target audience.

If you understand your Klout score, you are in the minority. Nevertheless, despite Klout scores not being widely accepted – or at least looked at with skepticism – Bing is displaying Klout scores on its “People Who Know” bar.

Bing is doing everything it can to gain a competitive advantage over chief rival and search dominator Google. Most of it isn’t working. So why would anyone think adding Klout scores will work?

Maybe Bing doesn’t think Klout scores will give it the edge it needs to gain more search share, but that’s what they’re doing anyway. And I have to say that it won’t make me use Bing any more than I already do.

I think Bing’s search results are not bad. For the most part, they rival Google’s pretty well. But it’s important for marketers to understand that your job is to get your website indexed in the search engines and optimized for the best search results. Social signals are becoming a lot more important to help you make that happen. Klout may not be a perfect way to measure social influence, but it might be getting more difficult to ignore.

I wouldn’t say you should put your Klout score at the top of your priority list right now, but it’s looking more and more like that’s what you’re going to have to end up doing. I hope you’re ready.

If you’re on the back side of life, or approaching it, then you likely remember the old TV commercials featuring the Pepsi-Coke blind taste test. Well, Bing – the search engine – has something similar going on. In their own version of the blind taste test, Bing takes Google on and, according to its own study results, is winning.

I find this quite intriguing. I think the results depends on your search queries. I tried it on what I consider very low results search queries. That is, these are non-popular search queries that likely aren’t searched often, but when they are searched for they are searched for by a specific niche market individual who knows what they want. Bing won a round out of five and there were two draws.

Two draws! I think that’s something to brag about, if you ask me.

I suppose it’s possible that on more popular search queries, Bing could very well win. Perhaps they’re targeting the more popular search queries.

But anyway, if you care to take the Bing blind test, you can head on over to the Bing It On website and take the test for yourself.

This is an aggressive marketing tactic. But will it result in Googlers converting to Bing? Only time will tell. If it does, Bing could become a major player in the search engine war. But if not, I guess we’ll just all be stuck with Google for a little while longer.

Quora is on a big leap forward. Three huge announcements this year could put the Q&A website on the fast track to greatness. Those three announcements are:

Each of these announcements alone would be a nice feather in the cap. Together, they could spell a huge leap forward for the social Q&A site.

Quora is a place where experts go to answer questions posed by members of the community. Answers tend to be long and detailed. The best answers get voted to the top. Quite often, answers elicit a robust conversation in the comments below the answer.

More money will allow Quora to put some marketing muscle behind it. While it is one of the best and most popular Q&A sites online, it still hasn’t reached mainstream status the way Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest have. $50 million could help that along.

The ability for bloggers to embed quotes from Quora will also go a long way to give Quora more time in the spotlight. Not only can bloggers more easily share content on Quora, but Quora will gain the benefit of inbound links from bloggers who are doing that. That spells more exposure for Quora.

Finally, whilst Bing is still not top dog in search, the search engine does have a respectable share of the search market. Users that are logged into Bing can see what their Facebook friends are posting on Quora. Again, that’s more exposure for the site.

Will Quora jump to No. 1 status among social media sites? Not likely. But I can see Quora entering mainstream consciousness some time next year if these kinds of developments keep happening.

Microsoft has decided that it’s time to start charging for the use of Bing’s API. In practical terms, what that means is any free SEO tool that you are currently using just might stop tracking search engine rankings after August 1. That is, unless the toolmaker decides to pay the fees Microsoft is asking.

That likely won’t happen unless the SEO tool becomes a paid tool. Free tools usually cost the makers money, or at least time. And no SEO is going to provide free tools that cost them additional money.

Is this a game changer for most SEOs? Not really? There are good paid SEO tools on the market right now, so if you’re married to your free tools, you should prepare right now to convert to a paid one if you want to continue monitoring your Bing rankings. Or, you just might have to relegate yourself to not following your Bing rankings.

I think this could kill Bing as a search engine. It’s not going to be competitive if there’s no reason for searchers to use them over Google. With all those toolbars out there using Bing as the primary search engine (Conduit comes to mind), it remains to be seen whether they will continue to provide the service if they have to pay for the use of Bing’s API. This will likely delude Bing’s share of the search market.

No, this is not a Google algorithm change. Rather, it’s a Bing new webmaster tools update. They’re calling it the Phoenix Update.

Fortunately, these tools actually look useful. Here’s a short list of new webmaster tools that Bing is offering webmasters now.

  • New Link Explorer – It’s unclear whether this tool will be as useful as Yahoo!s old link tool, but it looks like it has many of the same features. You can analyze links for any web domain including your own. I sure hope it’s as useful as Yahoo!s was.
  • SEO Reports – Weekly reports to show how you stack up against 15 SEO best practices. I can’t wait to use this one.
  • SEO Analyzer – Scan a page from any of your verified web domains and this tool will analyze that page to see how you measure up against the aforementioned SEO practices.
  • Fetch as Bingbot – See how the Bingbot sees your web pages
  • Canonical Alerts – This tool will let you know if you are using your rel=canonical tags correctly.
  • URL Removal Tool – Just as the name implies, you can block your pages from Bing SERPs.
  • Keyword Research Tool – This makes me wonder if Bing is trying to siphon Google’s keyword research tool traffic. If it’s as useful as Google’s tool, you never know what could happen.

Every now and then Bing introduces something that could have come straight from Google. I think they must have spies working over there.

We’ve known for a while now that Bing and Facebook were in good with each. They’ve developed a pretty cozy relationship over the last few years. Last year, Twitter and Google were playing nice until Twitter ended their relationship with Google abruptly. Now I know why.

Bing made them a better offer.

Both Facebook and Twitter have toyed with the idea of developing a competing search engine. But no one has ever developed a search engine that even came close to the powerful Google. Until Bing.

Google has wanted its own social network. Until now all their attempts have been failed attempts. Then someone came up with the idea of Google+. Bingo! Huge sucess. Well, OK, it’s been a success.

Google+ is Google’s search engine plus social networking. Not everyone is buying it, but the people who are buying it are really buying it. On June 1, Bing announced something similar, only they don’t have their own social network so they’ve partnered with Facebook and Twitter.

Along with the new features in its search engine, Bing has redesigned its search results pages. They’ve added a third column.

The cool feature about the new Bing-Facebook relationship is that you can now query the search engine and then tag your Facebook friends on the search to get their feedback and have them answer your question. Beyond that, Bing will also notify you of experts in that area and you can ask the recommended experts. Pretty cool. But let’s take it a step further. If someone does have the answer to your question they can answer you on either Facebook or Bing.

Isn’t that nice?

I haven’t played around with the new Bing much, but this excites me. I think it can be a big boon to businesses trying to market themselves online. Your search engine marketing now has even greater potential.

If you had any lingering doubts that search engine optimization was still a valid form of marketing, you can put them to rest right now. According to WebProNews, search is up by 68% since 2008.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone really. While the hype these days is around social media, search is still getting a lot of air play.

The interesting thing is that Microsoft, or Bing, has gained the most ground in that time. Google has already increased the number of searches it gets. In fact, it’s share of the search market is almost 70%. Bing’s is just under 20%. And Yahoo!’s is falling.

For the first time in search history, Bing is actually No. 2 in terms of total market share. Yahoo! has fallen to No. 3.

And here’s another surprise: A few people are still using AOL.

What all this boils down to is that more people are searching for information online through search engines than ever before. That means that search engine optimization is no less important than it ever was. In fact, I’d say it’s more important now than it ever has been. And that will likely increase even more going into the future.

So let’s answer the all-important question: Why? Why is search growing?

I think it really boils down to one thing. More and more people are using the Internet. As the younger generation gets older that means more people enter into the information market. And older people are going online more and more each day as well. All that spells a huge increase in search driving up demand for professional search engine optimization.

Where people are searching there is a need for more information. That means you should be putting your marketing money into search. Even now.

Facebook and Bing have been partners for some time. Recently, Facebook has started to get a little bit more aggressive at promoting search to its users.

The Bing ad appears to Facebook users when they log out of their Facebook accounts. Evidently, that happens often enough that Facebook thought it might be prudent to capture those users with an ad promoting their preferred search engine – Bing. Of course, it’s still too early to tell if the promotion has resulted in Bing picking up any market share. But it could happen.

What’s even more important is, How will this affect businesses who use Facebook? Or businesses who SEO their websites for Bing?

That brings up another point. ARE you SEOing your website for Bing? Of course, you should be.

Bing has nowhere near the search market share that Google has, but it’s still a sizable enough of a market share that you shouldn’t ignore it. People do still search the Internet with Bing and it seems that more and more people are doing so. Many websites show Bing as in the top five among referrers to their website. And that’s signficant.

If Bing is listed in your referrer log as a site that sends traffic to your website, then you should do as much as you can to encourage that traffic. SEO your website for Bing search. That means new pages and old pages.

You can improve your website’s Bing SEO for old pages by checking your rankings and tweaking your pages with some type of multivariate testing. You should employ solid SEO practices for your new pages to see how you make your Bing SEO shine.

Bottom line, don’t ignore Bing – or Facebook – for traffic.

Last year Bing made it possible for people to find you easier in its search index by including Facebook results. Now, they are introducing Linked Pages.

This is an interesting concept, though I doubt that it will have the same power as your Google+ profile.

Linked Pages allows you to link any page on the web to search results related to you. Naturally, this will only have value if you anticipate people searching for you in Bing. If you’re a hermit, that likely won’t happen.

You start by going to Linked Pages on Bing.com. After logging in, you can allow Bing to post your linked pages to Facebook. Then you can search for yourself in Bing and start linking pages about you to Bing’s search results.

Interestingly, they don’t all have to be websites that you own. Of course, you’ll want to link your blog and your website. If you are an employee of a company, you might link yourself to the company website. You can also link yourself to your social media profiles at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and other places around the web. Anywhere you have an online presence, you can link yourself to your Bing search results.

Bing will also allow you to remove links, so if you leave an organization, then you can remove your association from the Bing search results.

Is this practical?

I think, for reputation management purposes, it might be a good thing. Other than that, my hope is that Bing doesn’t get too intrusive where privacy is concerned. But beyond personal reputation management, I’m not sure about the practical implications of how it will impact search.

Social signals are becoming more and more important in search, and I mean beyond Google simply counting and weighing the importance, relevance, and authority of links.

For instance, if you are logged into Facebook, you can go to Bing and see what your Facebook friends like. On YouTube, or anywhere.

Google, in an attempt to face off with Bing, created its own social network called Google+. When you conduct a Google search, beside each search result you’ll see a +1 button. If you +1 an item and you set your preferences on Google+ just right, then your friends will be able to see what you plussed on your Google+ profile page, and you they.

But Google takes it another step further than that even. On the search results page, you can see what items your friends have shared on Google+ and you can see other items they have shared on any social network – including Facebook.

Are these social signals exhaustive? Not by any means. In fact, they are just the beginning.

Social search is in its infant stage. I believe social signals in search will become much more important and we are only getting started. It will be exciting to see where the search engines of the future will take us. I can hardly wait to get there.

Answer: It isn’t.

But that hasn’t stopped the second place search engine from posting its own content quality guidelines. In a nutshell:

  • Avoid duplicate content
  • Don’t create pages with thin amounts of content
  • No pages with only text or only images – mix it up
  • Share your content through social media
  • Don’t use automatic translation tools
  • Proofread your content
  • Keep your videos short
  • Turn excessively long pages into multiple-page articles
  • Don’t create content just for the sake of content

About the only one of these that might be different from Google’s content guidelines (and even that is questionable) is the suggestion to not use automatic translation tools. I say this might be different from Google’s guidelines because Google actually has an automatic translation tool, but I wouldn’t vouch for its accuracy.

In short, if you follow Google’s content quality guidelines, then you will likely do well in Bing as well. And since Google still delivers over 60% of the Web traffic for most websites, that’s sort of a no-brainer. In fact, Google delivers more than 70% of the Web traffic for most websites.

While it’s nice to hear from Bing just what its content guidelines are, I still think the better bet is to follow Google’s guidelines and you should do well in both search engines.

Many online marketers have asked whether Twitter passes SEO benefits to its users. There is no real indication that it does, but there is no indication that it doesn’t either. The best evidence for the case that it does is the search engines’ own practice of including tweets in search results. Both Google and Bing do this and Google even has a realtime search channel.

But, can you use Twitter to improve your website’s SEO?

I don’t think you should specifically focus on Twitter as an SEO tool, but I do think you should be aware of the possible SEO benefits from having a Twitter account and use that information to keep your tweets somewhat SEO-focused.

Here are the tips I’d offer:

  • SEO your tweet text – Just as search engines use anchor text to determine link value, they may use the text within your tweet to determine what a link is about. If so, slip your keyword into the text of your 140-character tweet without making it sound spammy.
  • Don’t use short URLs – Short URLs are URLs that redirect to your website. If Twitter passes link juice, those short URL addresses will get the juice, not your website.
  • Improve your Twitter authority – Just like the search engines use page authority in organic search, they could use the authority of the linker on Twitter to determine the value of a link. Keep your content of the highest quality possible and maintain your Twitter authority.
  • Diversity your links - Don’t just link to the same website over and over again. The search engines will definitely see that as a spam account. If you link to other sources often, then links to your own site will have more SEO weight.

These are not guarantees of improved SEO, but if you follow these practices, you are more likely to see SEO benefits from your tweets. Of course, there may be other reasons to not follow this advice. For instance, short URLs allow you to write longer tweets. So be sure you weigh the pros and cons of each suggestion.

An article on WebProNews asks a very important question: “Has SEO Peaked?”

Of course, this is a question that gets asked once or twice a year. And I’m pretty sure the answer is always the same. Chris Crum concludes that it is still important, but it’s changing. Yep, I say. It’s changing alright. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

One of the ways in which SEO is changing is the way in which people are searching for information. It seems that more and more searchers are using social search instead of traditional search. Unfortunately, social search is something that Google hasn’t really excelled at. Which means that many webmasters are going to find that their biggest referrer is not Google. It could be something else.

In fact, the article goes on to say that the biggest source of web traffic for a lot of websites will be where they spend most of their attention – search engines or social media. That makes sense.

If you start seeing the majority of your web traffic coming from Twitter, it could be because you spend a lot of time on Twitter. If you start seeing it coming from Bing, then maybe it’s because you spend a lot of time optimizing for Bing traffic. So what’s the lesson here?

There’s no real lesson. It may be a cause of celebration. Website owners no longer need to feel tethered to Google. Then again, it may mean SEO is just a little bit more difficult.

We’ve reached a new level of social media euphoria. A story about Bing’s successful Farmville campaign is giving marketers something to think about. Maybe you should think about it too.

According to Bing, Farmville now has more visitors than Twitter. If that’s true, then Farmville could be the next big marketing arena. Or, let’s rephrase it, any of Zyng’a Facebook applications.

So what did Bing do? Essentially, they promised to give Farmville users farm cash if they became a fan of Bing on Facebook. A really simple thing, really. But it worked. Thousands of people responded. Many of them wrote about it on their own blogs. And now, Bing has 400,000 new fans. Voila!

Can you do it too? Maybe not on that scale, but I see no reason why any small business can’t wage a similar campaign through Farmville, Cityville, or any of the other thousands of Web applications out there in Internet game land. Think about all the places you can go: Yahoo, Apples’s iPod Touch, Fubar if you’re into online dating, Facebook, MMORPG.com, or just search for online multiplayer games.

What Bing did isn’t really new, but it does break new ground in social media marketing and online game playing. Now it’s your turn. How are you going to reach your customers in this new social media world?

There has been a lot said in recent months about the various group deal sites – particularly Groupon and Living Social. Bing have now entered the fray with Bing Deals, and while it is really no more than a deal aggregator, it will make finding a deal easier for consumers. However, what is important to note is that Bing is teaming with DealMap, and they deliver thousands of local deals every day.

For many marketers, promoting their businesses through these channels may deliver more sales than through what is now consider ‘traditional social media’ channels (how quick the Internet moves – two years ago we spoke of how social media was the ‘new’ marketing option – now it’s ‘traditional’). If you have been offering special deals through Twitter, for example, you may find that sites like DealMap offer an even bigger stream of sales.

It begs the question, is social media too saturated for this type of marketing? Or more importantly, do you need to change your marketing strategy to match the habits of consumers. It’s clear that consumers are starting to prefer sites like Groupon and DealMap when looking for special deals. With these services really working hard to target the mobile market, and with mobile devices getting smarter, it makes sense that consumers will access them in larger numbers.

Groupon, Living Social, and DealMap are not for every business. However, they do offer a simple method of targeting consumers in their environment. Consumers don’t necessarily visit Facebook or Twitter to find a good deal – instead, they visit those special deal sites. If you are into special deals, then you may want to consider checking those sites out. Internet marketing is continuing to evolve. You need to evolve with it. You will be promoting where the customers are wanting to be promoted to, and that doesn’t happen too often.