Saturday, August 1, 2009

Optimizing for Bing - the new challenge - 5 surefire strategies

The SEO scene reminds me of how people hate their stomachs and just can't accept them for being how they are, even if they are absolutely flat. They would just like them to be flatter, slimmer, whatever. Similarly, webmasters can get so obsessed with SEO (check out the comments and browse through these excellent blogs to see how much similar information there is that's all highly followed), that they are always on the hunt for that elusive tip that will skyrocket their traffic, double their page rank, or something. No matter how nice their site is, it is not good enough.

Such insecurity. I have a business, I talk with clients everyday, I am familiar with how they describe what they want, and its simple to write my site in a way that makes sense to them. This will translate into correct keywords, automatically, or I could look around and get to that same list after months of research. Even long tailed keywords just happen, when you write in a way that shows your familarity with your market.

I don't need a keyword research tool to tell me that more people are familiar with (and thus search for) the term "team building", while fewer will look for Organization Development. I know that from my conversations with clients. But its not as fascinating as using some gadget/software to validate what I know and waste time. Is it any surprise that there are more male voices on this front? (I have an association with men and a fascination for gadgets/software and such-like)

The behavioural scientist in me worries about this kind of 'disowning' of a part of the whole. Its as though everything negative gets projected to one aspect and disowning that aspect till fixed is somehow miraculously supposed to cure all ills. All my discontent about not being a millionaire is because the site isn't adequately SEOd, or I'd be more look better in that dress if it weren't for this paunch.

Now that MSN and Yahoo are married, there is going to be a new SEO scramble. Did a search on what the scene is like currently, and Many posts from 2004 and 2005 are being unearthed and landing up on the first page of search results. Incredible how long people haven't really looked at Search engines other than the big G for so long.

The prediction is that the next couple of weeks are going to see a new rash of SEO tips and Tricks for Bing. I am no expert, but here are definite tips I can predict, which will end up coming as new and old mixes:
  1. Content is King: Bing likes fresh content (as though Google and Yahoo didn't, but it will be presented as an insight)
  2. Good design and clear site architecture (in all its forms). Some will call it optimizing certain pages for certain keywords, structuring categories on blogs, directories on sites, optimally named files and permalinks.....
  3. No duplicate content: Cannonical urls
  4. Build links. Be generous in linking out (hopefully to the guru that gave you this advice)
  5. Encourage return visitors through encouraging comments, sign ups for newsletters, subscriptions to RSS feeds, etc. Create community, conversation, etc
and so on.

The truth of the matter is, no matter what search engine you optimize for, you are going to end up focusing on the same things. You will have an epidemic of self-proclaimed SEO experts writing posts which sound so similar to others, that its tough to keep track of who said what.

Wouldn't be surprised to see a few links to advice from Matt Cutts (never mind that he's with Google), since the rising star of Bing is yet to step into the spotlight. I don't ahve anything against Matt Cutts, and his advice is always sound, but it gets irritating to have echoes of the same few people (echoing each other) and their often similar sounding advice coming up as fresh content all the time.

In fact, Matt Cutts on content and spam, SEOBlackhat and Avinash Kaushik on Analytics are probably the few who come up with surprises.

On my part, I am not doing anything much at the moment to optimize for Bing. Let me see if there is something outstandingly different that I have to do that will kill my traffic if I don't other than submitting my site there. The way I see it, its the job of a competent search engine to keep track of content, and its our job to manage our sites as we see fit. Chasing search engines is only going to lead to obsession.

Nowhere on the Bing site are any instructions that their spiders are incapable of handling regular sites. In fact, I added my site to the Webmaster Tools they have, and it was happily indexed and providing data on my links already. Not as fancy as Google, but definitely faster, and seemed far more accurate. Why do I need to fix, tweak and optimize something that seems to be fine?

Okay, I don't make huge amounts of money online, but hey, my traffic pays for my site and brings me enough clients in the real world to not worry about ads paying for my coffee. That's impressive considering that I never go hunting for clients in the real world, and simply deal with the ones I get approaching me on their own.

If you are getting seduced by all the posts coming up on SEOing your site to bits, do keep a sense of perspective, and remember that all those tips are unlikely to speak of a single thing you haven't read before, unless its an individual's name, or promoting some product or service or book. Chill out, and let the bloggers do their thing and get traffic for their site. Do what you can, and enjoy yourself all through. You loving your blog will go a far way to getting traffic than you constantly trying to 'fix' it.

Afterall, if you can't love your space for what it is, warts and all, who will?

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