Bing Investing in Itself, Improving Webmaster Tools and Services

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.

  • Lumineers – Ho Hey
  • Alex Clare – Too Close
  • Parov Stelar – Jimmy’s Gang
  • The Naked and Famous – Young Blood
  • Wiz Khalifa – When I’m Gone

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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