Top Five Tools for Website Analysis

October 30th, 2013

Every SEO will, at one point or another, be confronted with the task of doing some in-depth website analysis.  Sometimes you need to get an idea of the health of on-page elements, at others you want to do comparative analysis.  Often you may simple need a “bigger picture” view of what is going on with a site.   When posed with questions such as – Why has my traffic dropped this month?  To – What areas do I need to focus on for improvement in SERP rankings?  A search engine optimizer will need to sift through some data to better understand the exact circumstances of a website’s performance in order to make accurate and educated recommendations.

SEO Tools for Website Analysis - Page 1 Solutions

There are a number of tools on the market that help with the SEO analysis process, some free, some paid.  What are the programs that can help the most, or are easiest to use and understand?  The following are five of my all-time favorite SEO Tools to use for site analysis and research:

  1. Raven Toolswww.raventools.com -  Raven Tools offers a paid set of marketing tools – their SEO Software is currently one of my favorite go-to programs for reporting.  Not only does it offer an immense amount of details and a wide range of reporting options, Raven Tools also makes it easy to incorporate your branding on reports.  It used to take me five or six open browser tabs to accomplish what Raven Tools can do with just one click.  It grabs the data, adds it to an easy to use reporting interface and makes accessing that data a snap with color graphics and clickable data links for delving further into the data it has retrieved.  A great tool and a huge time saver.  A busy SEOs dream.
  2. Google Analyticswww.google.com/analytics – Of course Google Analytics had to make my ‘top five’ list.  Any SEO who is not using Google Analytics is missing out on a boatload of valuable data.  You know the old saying that humans only use 20% of their brains?  Well, I kind of feel  the same way when I’m knee deep in numbers, digging through a client’s dashboard trying to figure out a current statistical anomaly.  It’s times like those when  I realize that most SEOs (including myself) only use a fraction of what Google Analytics can offer – there is just so much information to digest!   A girl (or boy) can get lost in there.  A word of advice – if you are using GA regularly, get certified by taking the  Google Analytics IQ Test and make sure you are using this tool to its greatest potential.   For research and statistics, it is second to none.  For reporting integration – it leaves something to be desired.  But to be fair, it’s not trying to be a branding tool like Raven Tools is – and for a FREE tool, it is one powerful vehicle.
  3. The Hubspot Marketing Grader Toolmarketing.grader.com – HubSpot’s Marketing Grader is a tool that analyzes your website and provides actionable insights to improve your online marketing tactics – for FREE!  It gives you insight into your on-page SEO (meta tag usage, headers, internal linking) as well as off site indicators like social media, blogging, and backlinks.  This is a one stop snapshot of how your site is doing, instantly!  A great place to start your research if you are not sure where to begin.
  4. Webmaster Tools (Bing www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster  and Google www.google.com/webmasters/tools ) – Often overlooked, Bing and Google webmaster tools are positioned to be one of the more info heavy (and reliable) of the data providers outside of Google Analytics.  While Bing may actually offer a bit more in the arena of data, both tools offer keywords, links, queries, and site issues so you can maintain a healthy web presence if you take the time to review the information within.  The tools are free, and super intuitive to use (unlike Google Analytics) so finding information fast is very doable from either of these interfaces.
  5. MySEOToolwww.myseotool.com - This is another set of analysis software that is incredibly user friendly.  MySEOTool shows keyword rank, social media monitoring, and backlink statistics all from a very visually appealing interface.  Reports are easy to export in pdf format.  This tool is my favorite for showing local rank.  It has become a go-to favorite in my SEO toolbox.  Google webmaster tools is integrated in their newest release, so you get two great tools in one!
To learn more about SEO, website analysis, or if you need help with your internet marketing, contact one of our experienced digital marketers at Page 1 Solutions or call 800-368-9910!  We can help with any of your online marketing and SEO questions.
by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Search + Social: Why Reviews Matter

October 21st, 2013

Testimonials and Recommendations matter!

This is simply a fact for any business be it word of mouth or online reviews. Personal recommendations are extremely powerful with regard to growing your business and bringing in new clients and patients. Are people leaving your business positive reviews? Do enough people look closely at what is said in reviews to help your online business grow?

The Role of Online Reviews

google-local-denver-dentistOnline review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places, and Bing Local give people fast access to location facts and ratings for local neighborhood businesses.  Every year, a growing number of online visitors are using reviews to build their trust in local businesses.

According to a BrightLocal study done in 2013, 85% of consumers said they read online reviews for local businesses.  79% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  And 73% of consumers said that positive reviews online make them trust a local business more.  There is no denying that customer reviews help you engage with your potential clients and also help you understand potential customer needs.  Reviews also help you improve your online visibility in search results by increasing trust and click-through rates for your website.  This actually helps push your site higher in the rankings if enough people continue to engage with the content they find on your site.

The Role of Social Media

So, how do search engines use reviews in their search results?  At first glance, it’s easy to see that Google and Bing both show the amount of reviews a business has in its local results. With the growing popularity of social networking websites, online searchers have more access than ever to attitudes, opinions, and viewpoints of people who have interacted with a business.  Search engines are realizing how trustworthy and useful this information is by incorporating activity on these sites as favorable ranking factors.  Google utilizes +1s in its algo.  Bing recently rolled out their new Smart Search feature which incorporates reviews from places like Facebook, Mapquest, and Yelp in local results.  Reviews are increasingly becoming more about personal interactivity on social platforms, and sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are playing a bigger role in how a website ranks in search.

How to Best Leverage Social & Online Reviews

With social and review sites in mind, what is the best way to incorporate those reviews and interactions into your greater web marketing plan?  First, if you don’t already have listings or pages on these sites, then, you will want to actively work on claiming and optimizing those listings.  Make sure your business name, address, phone number, business hours, and website url are up to date and current so people can find you and contact you.

Create an outlet where you can expertly provide advice and information about your business.  Promote your special services.  Offer something that “the other guys” do not.  What makes you stand out from the crowd?  Create value, and share it on these pages with potential new clients and customers.

Share and engage with your audience, don’t just spew information (I call this “soap-boxing” – this will lose you followers faster than it will gain them).  When customers feel engaged, they tend to be more loyal to your products and services.  Loyal clients become advocates for your business. With social media, engaged clients and patients can (and probably will) endorse your company for everyone to see.  When that happens, it can be a very powerful tool to enhance your online presence.

Denver Dentist Search Results on Google (with reviews)

Additionally, local businesses with negative reviews will want to respond openly to negative reviews.  A bad review is not necessarily a bad thing.  If used the right way, it can become a positive influencer.  Use the opportunity to reach out and change that reviewer’s experience into something positive.  If the reviewer is not interested in responding, it at least shows future visitors that you are concerned about the experience people have when visiting your business or using your products.  It also shows that you are willing to go that extra mile to make amends.

You will also want to continually generate new reviews from happy clients promoting what you do best.  In doing this you can drive any negative reviews further down the page and keep the newer, positive reviews higher up.  Reviews don’t just affect the impressions a potential client has on your business; it can affect how your business website ranks on Google, Bing, and Yahoo search.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Claimed Google Local Listings and Satellite Office Locations

March 6th, 2013

Dominate your local market!  This is my daily SEO mantra, and one of the first and most basic ways to tackle local SEO is by claiming your Google local listing.  This is nothing new.  However, an issue I’ve seen a lot lately stems from Google cracking down on what it considers to be ineligible local business listings.  Google has always said that you cannot claim a business listing if you don’t actually own the business.  That’s obvious – I can understand that.  But the line becomes little blurry for my lawyers and physicians who practice and do business out of several satellite or shared office locations.  What can you actually claim in this case?  The past month I’ve seen a lot of my clients’ claimed satellite office listings disappear.

Here are some guidelines that may help you figure out if you can claim a business location as yours or if Google will consider it against their guidelines and yank your listing.

  1. Ownership – this is key – are you the owner of the business location you are trying to claim?  If not, then you cannot claim it as your own.  This means no virtual offices, no executive suites that aren’t normally staffed, and no rented office spaces that you use only when you have client appointments.
  2. Service Area Listings – If you provide services from a shared office, or several shared office spaces, you can consider setting up a service area listing instead of a business listing with a listed address.  It is my personal observance and opinion, however, that these listings do not show up as strongly in search results as business listings with a physical address that is visible.  So, I tend to stay away from them unless I have a mobile-only business (landscape service, dog groomer, tow truck, locksmith, glass installer, etc…) that will drive to a location to provide their service.  In the case of lawyers and doctors, 9 times out of 10, there will always be a home office and that is the location I would claim.
  3. Rented Space – If you do have a rented office space and you are the ONLY one who does business from that particular office, then you can ask your landlord to give you a separate and unique suite number.  It is possible that you can claim your business listing this way.  Every other person doing business from this location will also need their own unique suite number for this to work correctly.  And, of course, there is no guarantee that Google will see this as a separate entity.  So, until Google provides specific guidelines for these types of business setups, be prepared – you may see your listing disappear anyway.

So, if you DO have shared office space that you cannot legally claim in Google places, here are some things you CAN do to help beef up your local presence at your shared location:

  1. Add schema markup  and hcard formatting to all your addresses on your website so search engines know your business information should be associated with that particular location.  Be sure to have it on a Contact or Maps & Locations page.
  2. Be sure to list your Home Office Locations and Satellite Offices – making the distinction helps everyone.
  3. Create a Google+ Business page for each office and satellite office location.  Add information to each page that specifies your contact information, office hours (or “by Appointment” if you don’t have regular hours), and alternate ways to reach you if you are not at that location on a daily basis.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Enabling Google Webmaster Tools Data within Analytics

February 26th, 2013

For some time now, Google has offered the capability of accessing Webmaster Tools search engine optimization data directly from Google Analytics. By linking your Webmaster Tools site to a Google Analytics web property, you can now access additional insight into your site via Webmaster Tools data, including Search Queries, Landing Pages and Geographical Summary data. At the same time, you can now access Analytics reports from your Webmaster Tools sections of Links to Your Site, Search Queries, and Sitelinks.

Step by Step: Accessing and Merging the Data

  1.  Login to your Google Analytics account and select the web property you’d like to focus on. Ideally, this will be the same account as you utilized for your Webmaster Tools account.
  2. Navigate to Traffic Sources>Search Engine Optimization. Click on “Set  up Webmaster Tools data sharing” when you see the following:
  3. Under Property Settings, you’ll see “Webmaster Tools Settings”. Click on “Edit” and you’ll be able to select the verified site that you would like to merge with Analytics. If you don’t have a verified site in your Webmaster Tools account, you’ll need to verify your ownership using one of the options identified by Google.
  4. You’ll then be able to view and analyze the data in the Traffic Sources>Search Engine Optimization report.

How to Use Webmaster Tools data (Search Engine Optimization Reports) to Your Advantage

  • Identify landing pages on your site that have good clickthrough rates (CTR), but have poor average positions in search results. These could be pages that people want to see, but have trouble finding.
  • Identify search queries or keywords for which your site has good average positions, but poor click through rates. These are queries that get a good amount of attention, but by improving the content or call to actions could lead to more visitors.

For additional information, please see Google’s resources: “About Search Engine Optimziation” and Linking to Google Analytics.

Google’s Problems with Virtual or Satellite Office Locations

January 9th, 2013

Although businesses may have many legitimate reasons to utilize a virtual office, also referred to as a satellite office, Google frowns upon their use in Google+Local/Google Places. According to Google’s guidelines, business listings must have a unique address and phone number. Many providers of virtual offices (which include UPS, Regus, and many more) promise that you will be provided with a unique suite number and telephone, but business need to be careful to ensure this is the case. Even with a unique phone number and address, Google has issues with listings that do not conduct face-to-face business at a location (unless specified, which ruins the point of the office), or that do not have staff on hand at least part of the day at the specific listing.

How did these offices come about? Once it was determined that the distance from a business to the city’s centroid, or center point in Google’s eyes, was a ranking factor for certain searches, businesses began buying up virtual offices closer to the city’s centroid in an effort to rank higher for a given term. While Google has downplayed the importance of distance to the centroid, businesses haven’t slowed in their aggressive use of virtual offices. This is essentially spamming Google Maps with listings that are not always serving clients at that specific location.

Google doesn’t specifically outline this issue in their Guidelines, but recently we heard this straight from a Googler’s mouth. We had worked with a Google support member to help clear up an issue with one of our clients’ Adwords Express campaigns, which had been paused due to our Places account being marked “Suspended”. Many internet marketers have been through this hell, having to clean up listings or waiting weeks or months at a time for any updates to be made from Google’s end. As most of us know, Google provides outstanding customer support for their paying customers that utilize Adwords or related services such as Adwords Express, however at the same time they provide little to no support for other Google services such as Places.

We decided to take this as an opportunity to speak with a Google support member about the Express campaign being paused, to see if they could somehow help us sort out the issue with our Places account. We figured once that was cleared up, the Express campaign could be activated again.

So, we reached out to Google Adwords Support, and were connected with a very nice and very helpful team member that understood our issue. After a few back-and-forths, the Googler reached out to another employee within the Places team, who then forwarded the following questions to us:

  • Are any of the locations in this account by-appointment only locations?
  • Are any of these offices which do not have the ability to take customers coming in from the street?
  • To clarify further, are there any offices they rent only by appointment to make it easier for their clients to meet them?
  • Are there any offices that are not their permanent location (i.e. they don’t have staff there at all most of the week?) (The bold emphasis was provided by the Googler.)

To help clarify the questions, the team member followed with:  Again, I know these questions may seem odd, but the goal is just to ensure that the client is representing locations where the business permanently exists and not appointment-only locations rented on an hourly or quarterly basis. ”

Notice that Google didn’t use the terminology for “virtual” or “satellite” office. Unfortunatley, our client had been utilizing two by-appointment only offices that were essentially the definition of a virtual office. We responded truthfully and deleted the two “offending” listings from our account. They then responded with the following:

“I’m glad to report that you’re now operating within our guidelines after having removed those listings.  We’re only concerned with showing the permanent physical locations for businesses that advertisers have the authority to represent and are not meeting-only locations, so we really appreciate your efforts here!”

The account was cleared up and we were able to run our Adwords Express campaigns again, while also having our business listings published live once again.

The big takeaway? No, it’s not to call Google with all of your problems. Rather it’s that Google doesn’t specifically outline all of their issues with using virtual office locations in Google Maps in their Guidelines document, but they certainly are looking out for these listings and are looking to pounce on them once found. Be careful when your business or client is moving forward with virtual offices!

Forward Thinking – Future SEO

October 18th, 2012

Yesterday at PubCon 2012 was probably the most info packed day of the week. From the early morning news that Internet Marketing Ninjas in New York acquired WebmasterWorld Online Forums to the jam packed late afternoon Authorship session in a crowded Exhibit Hall A, my notebook was brimming and my brain was spinning. No, not from comped casino beverages, but from a virtual dump truck of information exchanged here at the second big day of SEO sessions. Standout tracks from the day were the Bing session and the Authorship discussions.

Future of SEO - PubCon 2012 SessionDuane Forrester from Bing delivered an amazing presentation, that has so far been my favorite track from the conference series. Entitled “What’s Up at Bing?” it was less of a – here’s what we’re doing – type of discussion, and more of a layout of the future of search and the tools that Bing has at the ready for all inquiring SEO minds. Two main things to remember when thinking about SEO in 2012 and beyond is to see the act of search as less of a one time action and more of a lengthy session. Forrester pointed out that for many things (such as a cup of coffee, a slice of pizza, or a recipe) the search may be a one and done type of deal, but for a substantial purchase, or to find a family doctor, the searcher is going to do considerable research. They are going to spend hours, even days, gathering and digesting information (good content), specs or credentials, where the business is located (local), and product or service testimonials (reviews and recommendations in their social circles). According to Duane Forrester’s data:

“44% of search sessions last a day or more”

and in order to capitalize on this, to leverage your product and your brand, you need to be focusing on a different style of search and keyword data than the current one search SEO query is looking at.

A lot to think about and digest? Yes!  But, that was just the beginning of the knowledge-fest because hot of the heels of the Bing talk was the Authorship session (otherwise known as rel=”author” tagging in G+). That’s been the rising focus of many SEO campaigns since August of 2011, and it was clear that the mechanics are still hard to grasp for newcomers to the topic as they were for those of us who have been trying to keep up with Google’s changing preference for implementation methods over the last few months. There were furrowed brows, many questions, and some blank stares in the large crowd listening to Eric Enge, Stephen Spencer, and Jim Boykin shed light on the subject.  At Page 1 Solutions we’ve been following all the changes and keeping up with the most current info regarding authorship, so there was not a lot of new info for us here, but it is good to know that we are solidly on the right track.  Go Page 1 Ninjas!

The rest of today will be spent listening to thoughts on competitor “stalking” (aka – gathering intelligence about what your competitors are doing and analyzing the data). More about that and the final thoughts on the conference as PubCon wraps up later this evening.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Day 1 at PubCon 2012 – G+ and Disavow Links

October 17th, 2012

PubCon 2012 Las Vegas, NV – Day 1

Yesterday was the first full day of conference sessions at the PubCon conference in Las Vegas. True to Vegas style it was energetic and loud and full of pumped up music and flashing lights. The keynote, about the psychology of motives and persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, was an informative introduction to the day ahead.

There were a lot of new people to meet, and an abundance of great information to be digested. I am proud to be a part of an industry that thrives on knowledge and has such passion for guessing the next piece of the puzzle in the game of SEO. As a whole, the SEO community is very exciting and forward thinking. Everyone I met on Tuesday was eager to share what makes them passionate and what gets them excited about working in this field. I was asked questions like: Do you find it difficult to traverse the Google landscape since the changes in local+? What types of A/B testing do you do with your websites and what has been the most influential revelation from that testing? How do you leverage Pinterest for a local small business? Do you Foursquare? Authorship and Search, how huge has that become, and where will it lead? It’s enough to make a nerdy girl like me giddy.

I am literally amazed at the amount of topics covered in just a few hours the first day at PubCon, and I’m grateful for the chance to be a part of such an inquisitive and passionate community.

Two big takeaways for me from the the first day of the conference:

  1. G+ linked content gets indexed faster than content linked from Twitter and Facebook (more about this to come in a follow up blog, but for now, know that it is pretty important to get set up on G+ and utilize it to promote your website and blog content.)
  2. Matt Cutts announced the ability to Disavow Links in Google Webmaster Tools (this is HUGE)

Matt Cutts announces the Disavow Tool

 Best quote of the day?

“Google is really making things complicated!” -Marcus Tober

I’m looking forward to Days 2, 3, and 4 – and sharing some of what I learn with you through this blog.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Conversion Rate Optimization

July 19th, 2012

SEOgadget has recently posted on conversion rate optimization (CRO) to increase leads.  They have developed a methodology to help you beat the struggles and difficulties when trying to get customers to convert to valuable leads.  The CRO methodology that they have implemented to help conversion is very simple: identify, target the core barriers and test the changes.

Check out their full guide to conversion rate optimization:

The SEOGadget guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation - Infographic
A CRO infographic by SEOgadget.co.uk, read the full guide on SEOmoz

Conversion rate optimization is removing the barriers to conversion.  You need to identify the weak points of your site’s conversion funnel and build on your sites strengths.  The way that SEOgadget puts it is that CRO is a scientific process of diagnosis, hypothesis, and testing.  You will need to research the barriers to conversion.  Why are people not converting?  Learn about your …your site may have usability issues, weak calls to action and persuasive techniques or irrelevant page content.  Learn about your users…what are you users looking for?  Are you giving them what they want?

This isn’t a guessing game….do not guess as to why people aren’t converting.  You have the tools to figure out why people aren’t converting and what you can do to change it.

The first thing you need to do is to set up funnels. Analyze where your users are entering and exiting your site.  Identify where they are abandoning your site and where you can improve.  Here are some great tools to create funnel conversions: Google Analytics, Omniture and Kissmetrics.

Also research your analytics.  You can analyze what people are actually doing and what is happening on the site.  You can see what keywords they are searching for and what pages they go to.  Of course google analytics is an amazing tool but there are also tools that you can use for testing including ClickTale, CrazyEgg, Ethnio, Usertesting and Whatusersdo.  These programs will show you exactly where people are clicking on your page and go in-depth as to how many clicks, when they click, what they search, etc.  My favorite tool is CrazyEgg!

The next step is to identify the barriers that users may have.  Give them the option to ask open ended questions and get the information they need on the spot.  Some good survey tools are Kissinsights, Kampyle and Pop-Survey.  Good instant help tools are: Olark and LivePerson.  Try and limit the information you require them to give.  People are very hesitant on giving personal information like their name or phone numbers.  They want answers and information, so give it to them.  The only thing that may be a good requirement is an email address.  This way you can follow up with the user and it can improve response rates which increate conversion rates.

Try and test your site.  Pretend you are a user yourself.  See if your contact form is working, secret shop your sales staff, call you customer service number, test your employees.  There may be simple issues that you are missing.

Sell your site to your audience.  Give your users reasons why they should want to contact you.  Get reviews to your site, list accomplishments, achievements, awards, community service, and testimonials.  Let them know why you stand out and why you are “better” than your competitors.

Once you have diagnosed your errors and barriers, set a plan of action of how you are going to improve your site.  After you have made improvements on and off of your site, being testing and repeat the entire process.  SEOgadget says to review your test, analyze the analytics, and compare it to what you had before.  Most likely you will have better results and more conversions!

 

Creating a Search Engine Friendly Title Tag

July 6th, 2012

So we all have been doing it….cramming as many keywords we have into our title tag using only 70 characters that Google “kindly requests” us to limit our title tags to.  But it seems that things have changed a bit.  Previously Google would only display 70 characters and cut off the SERP title after that.  Now based on an experiment, Google seems to care more about how wide your title is.  Google is more concerned on the measurements of the pixels that your title is regardless of how many characters there are.

Google no longer puts a limit on the number of characters in your SERP title. Rather, it limits the title based on the pixel width.  To sum it up, the old rule of “70 characters or less” is no longer being used.

Read more here: http://www.seomofo.com/experiments/serp/google-snippet-07.html

Google has also been frowning upon long title tags.  The blog by Google Inside Search released a monthly list of algorithmic tweaks for May.  3 of them specifically had to do with how titles are displayed.

  • “Trigger alt title when HTML title is truncated.”   When html titles are truncated, trigger alt title.  Algorithms are designed to provide the best possible title.  When the current title is too long, it gets truncated.
  • “Efficiency improvements in alternative title generation.” Google has improved the efficiency of title generation systems and they have been more focused on a set of titles actually shown in search results.”
  • “Better demotion of boilerplate anchors in alternate title generation.”  When displaying titles in search results, their goal is to avoid anything that does not describe the page.  It eliminates text that is not useful.

When your title tag is too long, Google is simply trying to algorithmically determine a better title for the page instead of truncating it for a better page title.  Having a short title tag that is search engine friendly has increased in importance.  Without this, Google would replace your title with just about anything.  This replacing of title that Google will do may lose you the opportunity to entice uses to click on your page.

Final recommendation: Make sure your title tags have shorter, rich keywords and be conscious of how wide your tags are. 

Bing Investing in Itself, Improving Webmaster Tools and Services

June 28th, 2012

Bing, the “little brother” search engine, has been ferociously revamping its’ services and image over the last few months and really throughout 2012. Through catchy advertisements, improvements in user interface and layout, social media implementation and even a point system that rewards users for “Binging”, Bing has gone all-in attempting to make ground on a search market largely dominated by Google. In fact, Bing has frequently gone the exact opposite route that Google has taken, possibly because those at Microsoft sense a small agitation over Google and the large corporation’s recent tactics and techniques.

Modern and Catchy Advertisements

While Google has always spent ample amounts on advertising and marketing their search engine and products, Bing wasn’t always as aggressive. However, recently Bing’s marketing team has really upped the ante, especially with television advertisements. Throughout 2012, Bing has targeted the young, web savvy crowd of internet users by using the newest and most popular music and bands to help display their services.

Below is just a small sample size of the bands and songs used in their ads in 2012 alone. Click the link to view the advertisement.

Webmaster Tools Update

Bing has made some excellent strides in upgrading and improving their Webmaster Tools with their dubbed “Phoenix” update. What was once the ugliest, most user-unfriendly layout ever has now become quite the opposite. By mimicking some of Google’s Webmaster Tools layout and adding some of their own pizazz and tools, Bing now provides webmasters with great feedback and allows them to more easily manage their site. The image on the right is a screenshot comparing the menus for Bing and Google Webmaster Tools, respectively.

Bing and Google’s Webmaster Tools now share many common tools and reports, such as:

  • Sitemap Submission and Review
  • Craw Error Reports (404, Access Denied, etc…)
  • Impressions and Clicks Data
  • Keyword Research and Data
  • Fetch as Google or Fetch as Bingbot
  • URL Removal and URL Parameters

While I’m not saying that Bing blatantly copied Google’s layout and techniques, it is pretty obvious where they got some of their creativity from. And why not? Webmasters have become quite familiar with Google’s Webmaster Tools for years now, and Bing is just filling in a gap. They are now on the same plane as Google in these offerings and reports.

Bing has also added new tools: SEO Reports, SEO Analyzer and Link Explorer. The Link Explorer is much more of a complete backlink tool than the links you can find in Google Webmaster Tools, which only shows links to the domain that you manage. Bing’s new Link Explorer is more closely related to the old Yahoo Site Explorer, and I feel/hope that eventually they will be one in the same. The SEO Reports tool, according to Bing,

“…will run an SEO report every other week for any domains verified in your account. Using approximately 15 SEO best practices to scan against, it prepares a report to tell you if you are in or out of compliance with the noted best practices.”

This is pretty awesome, with Bing’s SEO opinions and thought straight from their perspective to the webmaster. SEO Analyzer seems to be somewhat similar to the SEO Reports tool, but you may manually scan any URL from your verified domains to see about best practice compliance.

It is important to note that all of these new tools are still in Beta, so expect them to change frequently.

Facebook Integration and other Partnerships

In an effort to build upon their “Decision Engine” campaign, Bing implemented personalized search results “based on the opinions of your friends by simply signing into Facebook.” Searchers can now see results and opinions from your Facebook Friends via the right sidebar of Bing’s SERPs. While I don’t see the average searcher jumping to Bing simply for this reason alone, I think it’s a large step that Bing is taking that goes against the grain of Google’s efforts. While Google tries to force its own social media platform onto users, Bing embraced the most used social platform on the web and instilled it into its results. Facebook already used Bing Maps and Bing results in its’ search functionality, but this partnership shows that Bing is more dedicated to working with third party companies as opposed to buying them out or pushing them out of the market, a technique commonly used by Google. In a similar fashion, while Google pushed Yelp out of results and targeted Zagat, Bing partnered with Yelp and now displays Yelp reviews on their local and maps sections.

I think it’s interested that while Google pushes and elbows its’ way into practically every business medium that it can, Bing is taking the opposite route: partnering with the very same companies that Google failed at either partnering with or buying out.

I don’t care so much about the effect these updates will have on market share so much as the quality of the search results and the information that I can gather through Bing Webmaster Tools about my site. I personally am excited about the future of Bing if they continue in this direction, and that is something I never saw myself saying.


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