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Search engine optimization isn’t magic; search marketers have a fairly good idea as to how search engines organically rank websites, but we haven’t explicitly been told by any of the big search engine companies exactly how they rank websites.

Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager for Bing’s Webmaster Program, recently gave us a little insight as to how Bing might be organically ranking websites. I say “might be” because he didn’t really say, “This is how Bing ranks websites in the organic search index,” but he did hit on some nuggets on what content publishers might want to focus on when creating & publishing content.

And frankly, I’m keen on believing what the Sr. Product Manager of Bing’s Webmaster Program says content publishers should focus on.

Obviously, before I get into it, I want to state: Bing is different than Google. Two different search engines – two different algorithms. However, search engines are focused on serving the most relevant results possible for any given search query. So, I’d like to think that if whatever Bing is doing is serving better results for their users, Google and other search engines might see what they may be doing and incorporating into their own ranking algorithm in some fashion.

Anyway, enough of that – let’s get to the good stuff. So I mentioned that Duane Forrester – Sr. Product Manager for Bing’s Webmaster Tools service – recently opened-up a bit into how Bing is organically ranking websites. The two main points that were hit on during the interview:

  1. Bing places a fairly significant weight (more-so than what we all thought) on user interactions with the search engine results page as a ranking factor. I’m thinking this kind of parallels with how Google handles Quality Score in AdWords: the more likely a user is going to click on the result, the better of a position that result will have. What does that mean, for you, the content publisher? You should have an optimized title tag for every page of your site and meta description tag that encourages click through. Don’t make it super-sensationalist or USE ALL CAPS OR SOMETHING SILLY LIKE THAT; write a unique meta description tag that succinctly states what the page is about so the searcher knows what the page will contain if he / she clicks through.
  2. Duane Forrester ranked priorities that publishers should be concerned with like so: 1) Content. 2) Social media. 3) Links. Social media being the second priority isn’t quite as surprising as links being the third priority. So it would appear that Bing potentially skews more priority towards social media signals for a page than how many external links are pointing to it. And again – Mr. Forrester didn’t outright say this was how Bing ranks websites organically. But I’m going to pay attention to his rankings of priorities when I’m looking to get a ranking over at Bing.

There are some other really fascinating items that Duane hits on during the interview:

  • “Bing does not use page performance as a rankings factor. This is because a page with a 4 second load that has all the content someone wants may very well be a better experience than a page with 1 second load time that does not answer the question as well.”
  • “Your sitemaps need to be clean. We have a 1% allowance for dirt in a sitemap. Examples of dirt are if we click on a URL and we see a redirect, a 404 or a 500 code. If we see more than a 1% level of dirt, we begin losing trust in the Sitemap.”

It was an interesting interview and definitely will make us tweak our search engine optimization service for Bing. What do you think about those two main points that were hit on in the interview? Do you feel as though Bing is doing bigger and better things in search or do you regard that search engine as a “backup” to Google? Let us know in the comments section!

About Christian Bullock

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