All posts tagged Bing
The SEO industry has been crying foul since October over the controversial decision by Google to make Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) search the “default experience” for signed-in users. Why? Because SSL allows Google users to encrypt their search queries, and as a consequence, stops passing query data to analytics software – including Google Analytics. Once the switch was made, analytics users began to see “not provided” appearing in their data, indicating that the search had been encrypted and the keyword data was therefore not available.
Google’s reasoning, ostensibly, was to protect the privacy of its signed-in users. As they explain on their blog, “(Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that helps provide secure Internet communications for services like web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers.” Though this may be true, there are a few glaring holes in this move towards increased “privacy”:
- Google’s rapidly expanding suite of services and social media encourages users to stay logged-in, depriving webmasters the necessary data on their users to improve their content and engagement.
- Part of the reason they made the switch was to reduce the effectiveness of their competitor’s products. Google has accused Bing of using Google data to boost their own search algorithm on a few occasions, and they’re attempting to block as much of this data as possible from being seen by anyone but Google.
- Google is giving PPC advertisers exclusive access to query data while refusing to provide insights to site owners who want to grow and improve the traffic organically. So it seems that the privacy protection does not extend to you if you click on a paid ad.
- It appears to be another bold move toward boosting their expanding social network, Google+. They crave the “+1”s that users add while logged-in, so that they can recommend sites to the people in your circles. Since their main rival at the moment, Facebook, has had a few major headaches in the past over privacy issues, Google continues to position itself as the more private, secure network.
But what benefit, if any, does this provide the user? The general consensus is that it does not accomplish much of anything, other than making analytics users’ lives more difficult. That, in and of itself, is not necessarily a horrible thing; however, if the user’s privacy and online experience is in no way enhanced by these changes, then it seems like a questionable decision .
And bear in mind that HTTPS (what shows in the URL field) is not a catch-all solution for online security. While it is good for protecting login pages and forms that handle sensitive information, essentially forcing much of the web to use this protocol could be considerably expensive, while providing minimal benefits:
- HTTPS uses more bandwidth, requiring more power and more servers.
- Pages usually load more slowly – especially on mobile devices and congested networks.
- Offers no real security advantages for static HTML pages – you can still be spied-on while browsing.
- It can cost a few hundred dollars per annum, per domain to set up HTTPS. For a small business that may be a prohibitive expense.
Obviously, we have not been thrilled with the news here at RSO. Not allowing us to see where some of our clients’ organic traffic is coming from (and it remains to be seen what percentage of the data is being blocked) is not so much detrimental to us, but to our clients’ business. Tell us what you think.
Just as the debate between tech pundits was heating up regarding whether or not Microsoft should sell Bing, the most recent Experian Hitwise Search Engine Analysis report for July revealed that Bing and Yahoo search results have a substantially higher success rate than Google. The respected online competitive intelligence service defines success as a user clicking at least one link on the search results page, and this data should give online advertisers and marketing firms reason for pause: 68% of Google searches were ?successful,? as opposed to 80% on Bing and 81% on Yahoo.
This isn?t a fluke either, as Bing and Yahoo have been rated higher for three straight months now. This new development only compounds the effect of Bing?s slow but steady climb up the market share mountain, and while Google still has that on lock-down (66% in July), Bing and Yahoo combined for 43% – hardly a number to ignore.
What does this change? For one, it makes it blatantly clear that companies neglecting search campaigns on Bing are missing a huge opportunity for potential revenue. Though Bing still lags in volume, it is making huge strides in the quality of its searches. Businesses are happy to hear this news, as any meaningful competition with Google is beneficial to them and drives down their advertising costs. Better still, they now know that they have a viable alternative that can deliver even more relevant traffic than before.
Microsoft may use the news as leverage to finally sell Bing for a better price, but whatever the final decision, it has to be some form of vindication for their online services unit. Just recently, a NY Times business column labelled Bing a ?distraction? for Microsoft. Published before the Experian report, it now appears that Bing is a big distraction for Google.
Last month saw what seemed to be a significant milestone in the battle for search market share as Bing broke the 30% mark by powering 30.01% of U.S. searches with 14.32% coming from Bing.com and 15.69% coming from Bing-powered Yahoo Search. Google saw its lead decline from 66.69% to 64.42% in just the month of March alone. These numbers, provided by Hitwise seem to indicate that there could finally be a trend towards Google actually having search competition in the near future.
The numbers are essentially the same for Yahoo as they were back in 2005 when Microsoft muscled its way into the search market by launching Bing. However, what may give Google some pause is the fact that Google has seen an overall decline of roughly 10% of market share since the two merged services back in August 2010, a period of only 6 months. While it?s highly unlikely that we?ll see some dramatic sea change in competition within the next year, it hasn?t stopped some from predicting rather outrageous outcomes. Courtesy of Mashable.com, case-in-point:
So by this logic, Google would be overtaken by early next year, which to put it kindly, is bunk. While Bing has made inroads, the merger with Yahoo has ben anything but seamless. News from today puts some of the starry-eyed projections into perspective. From TechCrunch, Yahoo’s search revenue shortfall for early this year continues, and now Microsoft and Yahoo are passing the blame. The numbers don’t look good:
This is the data since Microsoft took over Yahoo?s U.S. search advertising in return for 12% of Yahoo’s search revenues, with the red line indicating Yahoo’s revenue taking the 12% into account. So even though the merger seems to indicate some increase in market share over the last two quarters, the ad revenue has declined substantially. While Bing and Yahoo may claim that adding the human element makes their paid ad relevancy for search terms better, the data seems to indicate that Google’s algorithm (i.e. Quality Score) is still the best method for getting people to click on an ad, and thereby generate revenue. Perhaps any qualms Yahoo had about AdCenter’s performance versus AdWords back when they chose which company to outsource search to was eased by the magic word “scale”. So far, it appears that the “scale” promised by Microsoft hasn’t made up for lesser platform quality.