Industry News, SEO & Content Marketing

Bing Webmaster Guidelines Finally Published – Are They Worth The Wait…

Written by Ann Stanley on 20th November 2012

Bing Webmaster GuidelinesEveryone’s second favourite search engine, Bing, have finally published their Webmaster Guidelines – providing a broad insight into what they look for when deciding where web pages will rank in their index.

Although they have been fairly slow at publishing the guidelines, they are at least quite detailed – especially compared to Google’s fairly vague and ambiguous guidelines (which you can read just here).

I’ve condensed Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines below, but if you want to read them in full (which I fully recommend) you can find them here: Bing Webmaster Guidelines

Bing Webmaster Guidelines

Bing’s guidelines are split into five broad categories, which explain what they are generally looking at when they spider your site. These are:

  • CONTENT
  • LINKS
  • SOCIAL
  • INDEXATION
  • TECHNICAL

In terms of CONTENT, Bing tells us “Your content should be easy to navigate to, rich enough to engage the visitor and provide them the information they seek and as fresh as possible.” So nothing we didn’t already know really.

The LINKS bit is similarly familiar: “Bing wants to see links grow organically, and abuses to this such as buying links or participating in link schemes (link farms, etc.) lead to the value of such links being deprecated. “

The most interesting part of Bing’s guidelines (for me anyway!) is the prominence they seem to give to SOCIAL signals. Google’s guidelines make no mention of social signals, whereas Bing (obviously more than happy to boast about their Facebook hook-up!) has quite a lot to say: “Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.”

While there has been a lot of talk about the importance of social signals over the past few years, this is the first time a search engine has openly acknowledged social as a part of their ranking algorithm – so if social isn’t as high up in your priorities as SEO, then perhaps you need a rethink!

The INDEXATION and TECHNICAL aspects of Bing’s guidelines are pretty standard – basically you just need to get signed up to Bing’s Webmaster Tools and use their ‘Toolbox’ to optimise your site. If you need help with that, by the way, just get in touch with me on Twitter (@lukeglassford).

As well as those five categories, Bing also takes the time to go through some SEO best practices – which looks almost exactly like the template for an Anicca SEO audit (always good to know I’m doing it right :-)), which includes:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • H1 tag
  • Image alt tags
  • Internal link structure
  • External links
  • Inbound links
  • Site structure and crawlability

The final section is called AVOID, which obviously lists the things you shouldn’t be doing if you want to get any traffic from Bing. These are:

  • Cloaking
  • Link schemes
  • Social schemes
  • Meta refresh redirects
  • Duplicate content

Again, the interesting bit here is the prominence of unnatural social schemes. Not only are Bing acknowledging that they use social signals to inform their rankings, they are actively looking for, identifying and penalising spammy social tactics – particularly Facebook ‘Like farms’ and auto-following schemes on Twitter.

The big takeaway from Bing publishing their Webmaster Guidelines, for me, is their focus on social – which is probably only natural seeing as their access to Facebook and Twitter is what sets their service apart from Google. Whether it will ever be enough to take a sizeable amount of market share away from Google remains to be seen, but what we can be sure of is that social signals are only going to increase in prominence in search engines’ algorithm. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below…

If you need help with social media marketing, or any other area of online marketing, get in touch with Anicca today and request a FREE website audit.

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