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Optimizing for Bing rankings - SEO tips 

In August 2009, it was announced that that Yahoo! will be using search results supplied by Bing. In July 2010, Yahoo! announced it was testing Bing results with view to a general rollout in August/September 2010.

Once it occurs Bing will effectively have 30% market share.

Most of us focus on Google as the market share that Yahoo and Bing have separately isn’t really worth chasing; especially if it would mess with Google rankings, but 30% makes it a whole new ball game under certain conditions.

For instance, if you're having trouble ranking on Google, the new Yahoo/Bing engine arrangement may bring some joy. 

However, if you rely on Yahoo search for your bread and butter, the upcoming changes are likely making you nervous and rightly so.

There's a lot of information floating around the web at the moment about how to gain no.1 rankings in Bing; but as mentioned, since Bing is being very heavily tweaked at present, any bleeding edge SEO strategies that require a huge investment of time may likely be frustrated as the engine evolves.

Still, it's good to keep an ear to the ground regarding Bing search engine optimization.

What Bing says about SEO

A great deal of the advice coming from Bing themselves relating to SEO really is just the basics. The tips include:

- Using unique titles and meta-descriptions

- Using consistent data structure

- Use an XML sitemap and submit it via:
  http://www.bing.com/webmaster/ping.aspx?sitemap=www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml

Be sure to include the full URL for your website’s sitemap.xml file at the end of this line.

I still see a lot of information saying search engines don't bother with meta description tags any more. That's simply not the case. There was a period a few years back when the major players started to ignore/devalue the meta description tag due to search engine spamming. However, as algorithms improved for catching out tags that didn't gel with on-page content; they became important again. 

One of the worst things you can do in relation to the meta description tag is having the same tag for every page - this can really hold you back. They must be unique, or don't use them at all. This applies to Google as well.

In the words of Bing; "Ultimately, SEO is still SEO...that benefits webmasters who have taken the time to work on the quality of their content and website design".

What others say about Bing SEO

Of course, there's lots of people out there now fiddling with their sites in order to get the drop on their competition when Bing results do start displaying in Yahoo. 

I'd like to reiterate that since Bing is in a state of flux at the moment, Bing specific SEO tips that work today, may not work tomorrow

With that in mind, if you would like to tinker; here's some of the "safer" tips I've come across that shouldn't foul up your Google rankings:

- Try and ensure each page has at least 350 words on it; not including common elements such as menus.

- Inbound links with keyword rich anchor text seem to be particularly potent on Bing

- Bing appears to give a lot more importance to keywords in URLs

- Outbound linking i.e., linking to other  sites seems to gain some ranking kudos. These should be reputable and related sites - be wary of linking to bad neighborhoods. Outbound linking does not necessarily mean chasing hundreds of reciprocal links as this can cause problems if it's the sole focus of your SEO efforts.

For other tips that will not only help you with Bing, but with Google, check out my SEO primer.

Domain age

Something that I see some general agreement on is in relation to ranking well is Bing is domain age. The older the domain, the better the Bing ranking juice.

The golden rule of optimization

Another point worth reiterating, and this applies to any search engine, is not to do anything designed to trick a search engine. Bleeding edge strategies come and go and tend to leave a trail of corpses in their wake after some initial success. After a while, the engines find out how to combat these tricks and once you've been penalized by a search engine; the road back can be a long one indeed.

The Bing bot

A bot or spider is the software program that crawls over your pages in order to index them.

Some people have been looking for a bot called "Bing" in their server logs. The bot Bing uses has the same name as it did under MSN Search, MSNBot.

Bing SEO tools

If you're having issues with ranking on Bing, Microsoft also offers the Bing Webmaster Center where you can troubleshoot the crawling and indexing of your site, submit sitemaps and view statistics about your sites. There's also this document "Bing - New Features Relevant to Webmasters" (PDF) 

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
http://www.tamingthebeast.net 
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