With the recent launch of Microsoft’s latest version of the search engine, SEO experts are scrambling to see if they can crack the algorithm, or at least better understand what methods will help increase your website’s rankings in Bing.  Although many of these methods are still to be determined, there are quite a few things we can take away from our first few days with the new search engine.  Bing has already shown a spike in usage, compared to Live Search, just after a few days.  Here are a few stats from the first days of Bing.

Microsoft has marketed Bing as not just a search engine, but a decision engine.  Apparently this means that you will have to make a lot of decisions after typing in your initial query.  I am only half joking because if you type in a somewhat broad query, you are presented with no less than 5 different options.  Your first option is to append an extra word onto your search.  Searching for the phrase, “professional liability insurance” it was suggested that I add the words “companies”, “agents”, “quotes”, etc.  Using this option is eventually forced upon you since after the top 5 results for your original query, you are shown results for the queries they recommended in the top left. 

Bing’s Search Suggestions

Apparently Bing does not have very much confidence in the user’s ability to know what they are searching for.  This is pretty big news for websites that used to be on the bottom half of the first page in MSN/Live since their listing is no longer shown before another query’s results are shown.  It will be ever important to have solid search engine optimization, not just for a root keyword phrase, but for similar variations as well.  I believe that with the way Bing displays results, users will rarely click through to the second or third page.  They will more than likely end their search for their original query after the first page and move on to one of the other recommended searches. 

Benefits for Search Engine Optimization

A possible benefit of this, however, would be for sites that have optimized their pages for longer tailed phrases.  Going back to the above example, even if your site does not rank in the top 5, 10, or even 50 for the term professional liability insurance, if your site ranks well for the phrase “doctors professional liability insurance quotes online” there is a chance that your listing will get visibility based on the original, broader search – a definite plus for smaller, niche sites. 

Contextual Searching with Bing

Specific searches, such as “utilizing no follow tags effectively” pull up slightly different results.  When searching for something this specific, you are not presented with any alternative search suggestions.  This leads me to believe that Bing does not have a very developed “context” filter.  In other words, it was unable to recognize that “no follow tags” is a widely used phrase in the SEO industry and provide me with other related SEO searches.  This might be something that develops as time goes on and more data is gathered regarding the use of their engine, but as of right now, it is not as developed as Google’s. 

Bing’s new way of searching is definitely revolutionary and actually pretty cool.  The problem will be actually getting people to use it.  Within the past 2 years or so, Microsoft has presented us with MSN search, Live Search, and now Bing.  The first 2 crashed and burned.  What about the third one? I don’t know, but it’s looking pretty good so far.