Get Ready to Bing it On!

If you’ve visited Bing’s home page recently, you’ll see a “challenge” at the very top:

Clicking on this challenge will take you to “Bing It On“, where Bing and Google are pitted against each other in the ultimate search-off (of sorts).

According to the Bing Team, people chose Bing search results over Google’s nearly 2:1 in blind comparison tests. Their research is based on a representative sample pool of over 1000 participants. Very impressive… but that wasn’t the case when we took the challenge. Check out our results here, where we only favored Bing 1 out of 5 times.

Breaking it down even more, we ran additional challenges in different categories to see how the two search engines matched up:

- Restaurant and food searches in specific locations: Google clearly had the upper hand with microformat markup which displays the visually appealing 5 star ratings.
News searches (such as The Emmy’s  and the Endeavour space shuttle): Both Google and Bing were closely matched displaying the main search topics with recent news stories underneath.
How-to and tutorials (such as how to change a tire and how to make pizza): Google and Bing were also evenly matched with a diverse amount of instructions and videos from different sources.

Of course, there are many other tests you can run and different search combinations you can try. This little experiment is a great way PR move for Bing when so many have expressed public distrust and disappointment in Google’s search results. Make sure to take the challenge for yourself and let us know what you think of the outcome!

Waiting Around for Panda 3.9?

Have you seen any fluctuations in your search results lately? There’s some speculation that another Google Panda update has hit or that’s coming very soon. The last confirmed refresh was on June 28 and it’s not unusual for updates to occur within as little as 2 weeks from the previous one.

It’s important to keep an eye on: website traffic, impressions, calls, and even number of contact forms received. Looking at trends will help you diagnose the problem if something has gone terribly wrong. For example, a website with a weak backlink profile can go from 1st page rankings and tank to 10th + page after an algorithm update. Without regularly monitoring your website, it would be difficult to tell until it’s too late. Summer months tend to be slower (depending on your industry), so it can also be a seasonal factor and not a Google update. Nowadays, people are too quick to jump the gun and blame everything on Google when there is a bigger picture.

Prevention is the key to being flagged by Panda or Penguin updates. But what about the paranoia that your site could be penalized? Some website owners admit to making SEO content updates so frequently that they can’t tell if the results they get are from their own handy work or from Google updates. In fact, that’s the last thing you want to do – make random changes, change loads of anchor text, add or remove tons of links. This isn’t helpful if the end result is good or bad if you don’t know what lead you there.

“Slow and steady wins the race”. In this case, it could pay off to wait and see what changes need to be made and how to recover instead of digging yourself into a deeper hole. Even if it’s out of fear of being nabbed by Google’s updates, it will help if you constantly monitor your website and make additions that will help it become more effective and user friendly.

What Happens After Reaching #1

Even after you reach the oh-so coveted #1 spot in search engine results page, your work is not done! Here are a few things that you still need to keep an eye on to make the most of your top ranking position:

Customer service – Are you ready to pick up the phone and help potential customers? Wait… before all that, make sure that your contact information is easy to find and up to date. If you use contact forms and have undergone recent site changes, check them to make sure that they still work work! There’s nothing worse than a customer inquiry that goes unanswered.

Search engine friendly web design – A well-optimized page and consistent SEO will help you maintain good rankings. This means that the search engines see that your site/pages are relevant with corresponding keywords and what business owner wouldn’t want that?

Search user friendly – Many sites have a bad habit of being too cluttered with content and other media. While these pages may help your SEO efforts, they can deter users. Content should be easy to find in appropriate sections so that your site is user-friendly. Imagine ranking #1 for a competitive keyword only to have users bounce away quickly from your site because they can’t find what they need!

PR and personality – Whether you utilize social media marketing or other forms of PR, it’s important to throw your brand name out there once in awhile. Press releases and social media not only help show your relevancy in your field but it also helps bring a personal touch to your business. Even in today’s world of overreliance on telecommuting and email, people do like to see the human side of your business. And yes, I think that you can also accomplish this with regular blogging.

What do you think are some other ways you can improve your site/marketing after reaching the #1 spot in SERPs?