Google have accused Bing of copying their search results after the search giant created some synthetic queries which tied two previously unconnected terms together and discovered that the same connections started to appear on Bing.
An example of this, Google linked “hiybbprqag” to a result about seating in a theatre. The only link between the query and the result was Google, yet a search for the term “hiybbprqag” brought about the same result in Bing. Proof, Google says, that Bing are copying their SERPs. Pretty good evidence it is too. See for yourself:
Oh dear, oh dear. Microsoft simply responded with “We do not copy Google’s results.”
Not particularly useful or informative, so it was good that Corporate Vice President Harry Shum expanded later on, saying:
We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users.
That would seem to be a fair explanation, at least in part, but Google are not letting this go. They have written a long post on their official blog explaining how they allegedly caught Bing red-handed. If you’re technically-minded, you’ll enjoy it!
Google essentially claim that Bing is using IE8, Bing Toolbar and perhaps other ways to send data on what people search on Google and what results they click to Bing, which they are then using to determine what SERPs they offer up. Or as Google puts it:
…some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results?a cheap imitation.
For a really good piece on the background to this and some very well reasoned opinion, read Danny Sullivan’s post on Search Engine Land.
It’s getting very catty between the rivals now and I even read a headline earlier today that claimed Google was copying Bing’s SERPs! Which is just madness, obviously… Right? Well, who knows?
From an SEO point of view, having Bing copy Google’s SERPs would certainly make life easier. Everything could be optimised for one search engine instead of many, one set of rules could be followed and monitored, one set of results tracked.
But it also minimises the scope for innovation, big wins and successes – for SEOs AND Google and Bing (and anyone else who dares enter the marketplace in the future!).
Nichola Stott of theMediaFlow certainly thinks so. Randfish of SEOmoz is less convinced. It’s something we at iSupport Websites have been thinking about since late last year – what do we need to do to ensure our clients take full advantage of the growth in mobile search?
A number of options have been considered. Mobile optimised websites for one. We tended to agree with Randfish here though – they are an uneccessary use of time, money and skills unless a client’s website really does not render on mobile devices. Smartphones are getting ever closer to laptops and PCs in their capabilities, there really is no real point in building websites for them.
Mobile apps, however, is a different story. That’s not really search related as such, however. Suffice to say, if you’re interested in having a mobile app developed for your company, pop on over to our sister site and contact iSupport through there: http://www.iSupportcreativity.co.uk
We came to a very similar conclusion as Randfish:
…search – the process, the intent, the results – just isn’t that different on mobile devices vs. laptops and desktops.
There really isn’t that much difference between what you search for on your phone or on your PC. Think about it…you may well make more local searches on your mobile device than you might on your PC, that’s just common sense, but overall you’re after information so no matter where you are or what you’re on, you’ll be searching for the same things.
From a pure SEO standpoint though, this bullet point from the article really stood out:
- A single set of SERPs – I searched for a good 20 minutes on my laptop and Android phone without finding a query where the web results are in a different order (both are location-aware to “Seattle, WA”)
What we read into that is what we’ve been thinking for quite some time – local search engine optimisation is really the key to mobile SEO for those businesses that require it, while ’standard’ methods of optimisation remain just as important in the mobile world as they do in the laptop and desktop worlds.
Mobile optimisation = Local optimisation + ‘Standard’ optimisation
In our opinion, 2011 will not be the Year of the Mobile for SEOs. It may well be the Year of the Mobile in terms of impressions, clickthrough rates and cost per click but getting to the top of the SERPs on mobile devices will require much the same time, effort and techniques as non-mobile SERPs – with a slightly more heavy leaning towards local optimisation.
With regard to impressions, clickthrough rates and cost per click – read this piece of research. It’ll give you a lot to think about.
As you may or may not know, Google recently carried out a rather intensive make over of its local search results pages, resulting in some equally dramatic changes in ranking for some websites. The big question was what, exactly, had changed, apart from the layout of the page itself.
Well, those wonderful people over at SEOmoz have done some research and the results are not to be ignored. After reviewing the rankings of around 50 sites pre- and post-changes to the SERPs they found that 30 of the sites had improved organic rankings, while only six had dropped – and, importantly, most of those seeing an improvement could attribute it to their local listing performance.
To see the actual stats, have a read of their blog post on the subject. SEOmoz say that:
Generally, it can be said that sites performing well in both organic and local perform even better in the new consolidated SERP. In several cases you can directly see how a well-performing Google Places listing now pulls up your organic ranking.
However, for those sites that saw a drop in rankings it wasn’t so much the poor business listing that was dragging them back “but rather that, due to the local results being buried so deep in Maps, Google didn?t associate a business?s Places page with their website. As a result, other websites that did have strong Places pages were ranking higher.”
What does all this tell us? In a nutshell, that as well as having a very well optimised website you also need a well optimised Google Places listing. Not only do you benefit in terms of ranking, but there’s the potential for taking up more real estate in Google’s SERPs.
We at iSupport Websites have always recognised the importance of local search engine optimisation and are quite happy to see these results from SEOmoz’s research.
Thursday, November 18th, 2010 at 12:24 pm
Google’s new full page previews on the SERPs have been in place for a little while now, allowing us to take a proper look at how they may affect things from an SEO point of view and we’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is “hardly”.
At least, not in the case of actual ranking. But an SEO’s job should never be just to improve the ranking of a website, it should always focus on the end game and consider ranking a step towards it. Click through and conversion to enquiry or sale should be the goal and when it comes to this Google Instant Preview DOES matter.
If you’ve yet to see it in action, take a look at this screenshot:
Looks alright, doesn’t it. It’s not hugely intrusive as you have to click either the little magnifying glass icon you can see or the excerpt (but not the link – that still takes you to the webpage, obviously!) to view the preview. There was concern it would appear just by hovering, which would have proved very annoying indeed. But I digress…
Oh yes…how does this affect us as search engine optimisation specialists? Well, as click throughs and conversions are our ultimate goal, we’re now going to have to be concerned with how a website or landing page looks, that it renders correctly in the preview and that any text highlighted is relevant (more on that in a moment).
Let’s deal with all you people who have Flash only websites. Google hates Flash as much as Apple hates Flash. You might want to look away now…
Oh dear. All Flash website owners might now want to consider creating a HTML version of their site and directing Google to it – assuming they think that people using the preview function are more likely to click through to a site they can see, rather than a big grey box!
That’s an extreme example, of course. But sites with any Flash content will be previewed with grey boxes where their formerly no doubt beautiful content should be. Non-Flash sites should also take a look at their preview and see if there is anything they could do to attract the all important click as well.
Now about that highlighted text I mentioned earlier. On certain searches and results, Google Instant Preview highlights relevant text (containing words from the search term used) on the webpage in an eyecatching orange box.
THIS is where a good SEO can make a bit of an impact.
Good content is King, as we all know. Google is now underlining that with this little addition and a well crafted, well designed page with relevant content and a nice design is going to capture the clicks . Placement of the copy is, of course, important, though as you can see if it appears below the fold, Google will handily snip the page and display it anyway!
So how much should you worry about Google Instant Preview and optimising for it? Not a huge amount – but you shouldn’t ignore it either. It is just another thing an SEO has to bear in mind when going about his business.
In fact, perhaps web designers and developers should worry about it more. After all, Google Instant Preview has been described as the death of Flash (well, as speeding up the demise of it anyway)!
Welcome to iSupport Websites. We are an established team of online marketing professionals specialising in search engine optimisation, social media strategies, online PR and email marketing. iSupport Websites are the specialist search team at iSupport Creativity. We?ve been working hard to build up the search and social marketing side of the business to the point where it was worthy of it’s own website.
A staggering 90% of people use a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo to search for whatever they are looking for online. That?s why your website and ultimately your business needs to be getting on the first page of those search sites. Have a look around our new website for more details on Search Engine Optimisation and all the services we provide to help your site reach its full search potential.
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