Early this year during the height of the Groupon craze, I attempted to find a good domain name for a "deal" related website. I probably reviewed over 200 potential variations of domain names that included either the term "deal" or "coupon". It was stunning that some of the combinations I considered to be really obscure had been purchased. I finally stumbled across "Deal Magik" after hours of fruitless searching for an available domain name. However, the domain name hoarding that led to it being so hard to find a suitable name may be on its way toward becoming an antiquated strategy.
I was recently asked how to optimize a blog to rank well on Bing. I could not immediately come up with a good answer, but recalled that a while back I had read a post that discussed Bing ranking factors. But before digging into optimizing for Bing, it seems appropriate to ask the question of what is the likely benefit of doing so?
I would be shocked if the marketing folks working on pills, porn, and gambling sites are not already hard at work trying to game Google+ in attempts to gain better rankings on search engine results pages. However, for anyone that has an online business with a long term focus, my perception is that it is going to be challenging to "game" Google+. The only tactic that seems like a sure fire way to be able to use Google+ to boost search engine rankings is to become an authority figure -- which is easier said than done.
Google records lots of information about its users. Increasingly, it is using this information to attempt to serve up search results that are personalized based on the location or previous activities of a searcher. While it may seem big brother-ish, there is nothing terribly sinister about Google using the information it has collected in order to attempt to provide a better user experience to searchers. However, if you are reviewing search engine results pages for specific terms to check where your site ranks versus the competition, viewing personalized results may not be very informative. The good news is that there is an easy way to turn off some of the personalization in Google search results and view a result that is much closer to what a broader audience is likely to see using the same keyword term.
What terms are most important to you from a search engine traffic perspective? Regardless of the terms, most bloggers and Internet marketers are likely to evaluate the performance of a search engine based on how much traffic it delivers. Thus, in my completely biased opinion, despite Bing's slightly growing market share (up to 30% for Bing and Yahoo combined according to some recent studies), the quality of their search results is falling behind Google's.
6/27 Update -- I would love to think that this blog post had an influence on the folks at Google. Please indulge my trip to fantasy land and give me a bit of credit for all the new blogs that have Toolbar PageRank scores as of today, including this one, which now ihas a homepage PageRank of 3.
Google's failure to publish updated Toolbar PageRank scores since January is doing a disservice to the new blogs that have been launched during the last 7-9 months. Regardless of Google attempts to minimize the misuse of this tool by sites selling links, it remains a highly scrutinized number. Having a Toolbar PageRank of zero makes it more challenging for new blogs to establish credibility, gain readers, compel readers to leave comments, and recruit guest post authors.
As the search engines improve their capability for sussing out spammy links, it has become more challenging to manufacture links. Tactics that were successful no longer work. Simply putting out a press release on a wire service does not provide much benefit unless it actually leads to a unique article. Bartering reciprocal links has become counter productive. However, a tactic for manufacturing a link that can be quite successful is to create a blog for a sub group within an organization that you belong to. Not only can this tactic be utilized to manufacture a link, it can provide a meaningful benefit to the organization.
Two websites that I edit have both recently benefited from the addition of new content. While it cannot be determined from a sample size of two whether the search engine bump is due to having additional content pages on the site or if it is due to visitors being more engaged and Google rewarding the improved metrics, the net result is that the addition of new content pages led to positive search engine results.
I am flabbergasted at how frequently I come across either really bad SEO advice or wild conjectures with no supporting results to back up the claims. However, given the secrecy behind the search engine algorithms and the time consuming nature of conducting rigorous testing of SEO tactics, it is understandable that correlation often becomes confused with causation.
4/1/14 Update - This post seems very dated at this point. My Blog Guest has become a controversial site, A number of the articles that I submitted have been deleted by the blogs that publishered them. Guest posting is no longer considered a legitimate SEO tactic by Google.
I am becoming a fan of My Blog Guest. Although there is a free option, the $20 monthly cost of premium membership is one of my most productive marketing expenditures. I certainly don't claim to be a My Blog Guest expert user, so please consider this review to be more anecdotal than authoritative.