Bing Reveals Content Quality Ranking Factors

Yahoo recently announced that they would be replacing Google as the default search engine in the newest version of Firefox (and all subsequent versions for the next 5 years). According to the most recent comScore data, Google controls over two-thirds (67.3 percent) of the search engine market share. However, only a month after Google being replaced by Yahoo, we’re already beginning to see a significant shift in these numbers. According to a report on Search Engine Land, Yahoo search share has grown from 9.6 percent to 29.4 percent — that’s a 275 percent lift. Since Bing powers Yahoo search search results, many SEOs are getting more serious about optimizing for Bing.

This week, Bing Senior Program Manager Michael Basilyan shared some really great insights into how Bing vets content quality and what factors are used in their ranking algorithms. He explained the Bing focuses on three main pillars to determine content quality — authority, utility and presentation.


Basilyan also revealed some information bout how their ranking model works to determine relevancy. Some of Bing’s ranking factors include:

– Topical relevance to the query (“Does it address the query?”)
– Content Quality (as measured by the three pillars described above), and
– Context (“Is the query about a recent topic?”, “What’s the user’s physical location?” etc…)

I provided a summary of each pillar below . Keep in mind, we’ve heard most of this before. Any site that has been hit by Panda knows the importance of developing quality content. It’s good to see that Bing is starting to set the same standards we’ve all grown accustomed to.

Like Google, Bing looks for specific signals that reveal how authoritative or trustworthy a site is. What;s interesting about Bing though is that instead of focusing heavily on back-links (something that Google has become notorious for), they tend to rely more on social metrics, citations, name recognition and author identity (author rank?). Bing also stated that for certain query segments, such as health topics, their algorithms favor content that is written by well-known, authoritative sources.

Utility refers to how useful a piece of content is in relation to a particular search query. As semantic search evolves, the context of content is becoming increasingly important. Does the content speak to a specific audience? Does the content lack vital information? Is the content unique? These are all factors that Bing considers when weighing content utility. Additionally, Bing looks for sites that provide “ample supporting information” including multimedia content (instructional videos, images, graphs, etc.). Bing also apparently looks at hyper-local attributes such as sites that list out nearby transportation options or school information.

Mobile traffic has skyrocketed over the past few years. It’s more important than ever to present content in way that works well across a variety of devices (desktop, phone, tablet, etc.). Do your webpages appear cluttered? Is your content easy to navigate? Do you use a lot of ads on your site? Basilyan says that Bing prefers webpages that do not hide content behind ads or feature ads that can be easily confused with regular content or navigational elements. If you check out his original post on the Bing blog, you can see some examples of what works and what doesn’t.

Once again, we’ve known a lot of this for a while now. But now that Bing is stealing away market share from Google, it’s more important than ever to consider other search engines in our SEO strategies.

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