In mid-November, Bing released its Webmaster Guidelines. Similar to Google’s guidelines, Bing’s guidelines focus on technical aspects, indexing, content and general SEO. There are, however, two elements Bing highlights in their guidelines, that are either hard to find or do not exist. One is social media and the impact of social media signals and social media authority. And the other is about links.
One major difference in the search engines’ guidelines is any reference about links, specifically external linking. While Google mentions linking, on and offsite, in techniques to avoid (hidden links, link schemes), their guidelines do not provide detail about correct or beneficial linking tactics. Bing, on the other hand, tells webmasters the importance of links - links help Bing find new content and establish a vote of confidence between websites. The site linking to your content is essentially telling us they trust your content – as well as what not to do – link buying, participating in link schemas, similar to Google.
Now…let’s talk impact of social media – or as we at LEAP like to call it, social search optimization. Bing’s guidelines specifically state the importance of social media as a signal and factor in search results - 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. We have known for sometime the influence social has had in search results with the release of Facebook Likes in search results and the social sidebar released earlier this year. This statement showcases the “why social is important” to companies looking to improve their search results positions in Bing. Unlike Bing, Google has yet to create guidelines specifically around social media and the impact of a company’s social media participation on search ranking. However, due to the release of Search Plus Your World, Google Authorship + AuthorRank and the emphasis of the search engine on Google+, we know that social search optimization is also a ranking factor considered by Google when determining the rank of search results.
Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines are a step in the right direction as the search engine continues to compete against Google for the market share of searchers. And from a company that has been so secret in the past, even more so than Google, about its ranking factors and signals, this look into the search engine’s “thinking” is a benefit to SEOs and digital marketers looking to impact their company’s search results in Google and Bing.