Tag Archives: SERP

Bing Faster Than Google?

I’ve put some additional effort into tracking some of the various keywords that I write about for some of my clients. One of the new tools I’m using shows Bing rankings in addition to the more traditional Google rankings. What I’ve noticed can only be considered anecdotal at this point, and has only been observed on a handful of keywords over 45 to 60 days. However, it seems that when it comes to rankings, Bing is faster than Google.

Bing Search Rankings Accurate Sooner?

Faster Search Rankings graphic

Here is what I mean.

Imagine a website that is a well respected authority site for something like dog clothing. (I have no idea how this does or does not end up working out for thin, affiliate, type websites where the goal is to rank for a single keyword. I don’t have any of those sites to try it out on.)

Now, imagine that the website publishes a new article about ascots for dogs. Let’s assume that the goal was to rank well for the term plaid dog ascots. Furthermore, let’s assume that the page is reasonably well optimized for search and that a regular, non-automated, amount of links has been built to the content in question. Finally, assume that while this may be a competitive keyword, it is not highly competitive and that the top ranking results are not giant, authoritative, well linked pages of PageRank 7 websites, but rather regular, middle of the road, webpages for longer-tail keywords.

Continuing our example based on this scenario, after five to 10 days, Bing starts ranking this webpage for the keyword plaid dog ascots at #5. Google starts the ranking for the same page for the same key phrase at 28. Most website owners fixate on the Google ranking and consider their efforts to be a success or failure based upon that number.

However, what I have noticed a few times now is that without doing anything more than maintaining the existing site that over a matter of two to three weeks, the webpage in question will slowly, but surely (though not linearly) make its way up Google’s SERPs until it comes to rest within one or two rankings of the original Bing ranking.

This suggests a few things. One, that Bing, unlike widely reported on Google, may not limit or “sandbox” new content, allowing it to rank naturally almost immediately. Google, on the other hand, seems to almost require that an article be at least two or three weeks old before it can rank in the top 10, assuming that it is not given “hot news” treatment. Two, it seems that Bing might be a good predictor of the final ranking position for long-tail keyword webpages that are not hyper-competitive. Three, if that is all true, then observing one’s Bing ranking for a given keyword offers some insight into how effective the webpage was constructed and linked.

I’ll keep you posted as I work. Maybe this is a fluke that only happened a couple of times. Maybe, this is a very useful insight into SEO for writers.

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Google Panda Update 1 and 2 Shaking Out

Google pushed out a set of updates to its search ranking algorithm in the first couple months of the year. These changes affected websites and webmasters in waves, with the first update hitting one set of the so-called content mills, and the second wave hitting those who got missed the first time around. After much consternation, things are settling down with some websites and networks scrabbling to control damage, and with everyone else trying to figure out the new SERP rules.

panda-update-googleGoogle mentioned that only a small percentage of rankings were affected with each update. That’s small comfort to those website owners that go hammered. On the other hand, many web developers found themselves only minimally affected. The key questions moving forward, is what to do to help your websites rank higher and what to not do to keep from hurting your website’s search rankings.

Google Search Results Quality

Everyone always says that content is king and that quality is the way to a top Google search ranking, but everyone knows that isn’t really true. The "if you build it, they will link" theory of search engine rankings is based upon the na├»ve assumption that everyone who publishes webpages and online content link based solely on how much they value the pages and information that they are linking to. That may have been true a decade ago, but it hasn’t been true in years.

These days, website owners routinely link based upon self-interest. Content mills, for example, add the nofollow tag to any link pointing offsite. One example, eHow.com, has links to "references" at the bottom of every article it publishes. It is these references that, supposedly, validate the information provided and prove that the data within is quality information. However, every one of those links is nofollowed. If the content being linked is useful enough to be the validating reference, how can it possibly be unworthy of a full follow link?

The answer, of course, is that no one in the world uses the nofollow tag the way it is intended. Rather, websites and SEO experts use the no follow tag to enhance the links that they want to power up for their own benefit and to downgrade all other links regardless of value.

The other reason that Google search results are broken is that they over-emphasize the title tag, ranking websites of lower quality higher than better quality websites because the lower quality site matches the wording entered into the query box slightly better than the better quality article.

Content Mills Punished

It seems that neither Google, nor any of the search experts out there, seem to think that Google has changed its link counting ways or its text pattern matching algorithm. Instead, the focus is on the concept that there is a "penalty" for low-quality content that extends to the entire website.

The idea is that if there are 200 low-quality pages (that is, low-ranking pages) and 100 higher-quality (higher-ranking) pages, then the 100 good pages are dragged down by a penalty from the low pages. That is why content mills (and other websites) are now frantically pulling their "junk" content down in hopes that their rankings will improve for their better quality content. Demand Studios, publisher of eHow, for example, is decommissioning all of their unmoderated user-generated content in hopes that their better, editor approved, content will regain some of its luster in Google’s eyes.

Of course, this may all be moot as recent actions by various flower selling websites demonstrated recently. It seems that all of the major online florists were buying links in the run up to Mother’s Day to ensure that they would rank high (or not lose their high rankings) for the big flower buying holiday.

Google’s response was essentially that it is fine to break the Google Webmaster Guidelines as long as it doesn’t affect the final rankings. The stupidity of this concept is staggering considering there is no way for Google, or anyone else, to know whether or not the forbidden link buying campaigns affect EVERY search made. The link buying may not have affected the rankings for "Mother’s Day flowers" but could have made a big difference for "mothers day flower specials cleveland".

If you want to make money writing online, you can naively write quality content and hope for the best, or you can write quality content and then get out there an build some links. You’ll never outspend 1-800 flowers on a link-buying campaign for Valentine’s Day, but your top-notch article on how to pick good roses at the flower store might just make it into the Top 10 Google search results if you build out some links, and then hope for the best.

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Best WordPress Writers Templates Features

wordpress-menu-customize-writers-themes Regular readers here at make money writing online know that I am on a quest to find the perfect WordPress theme for writers. After numerous new free themes came out proclaiming themselves to be WordPress themes for writers based on the fact that they were “plain” and therefore made “writing the focus” of the blog, I wondered what features and WordPress options would make the best theme for writers.

Obviously, this is no small undertaking. Writers come in all shapes and sizes. From writers looking to earn money writing online as a side business, to professional freelance writers, all the way to those looking to startup a writing business from home, covering all writers is tough business. However, as we’ve searched the WordPress theme gallery, and Google searched our way around the WordPress theme world, some very useful WordPress features have stood out as necessary to a top WordPress theme for writers. We’ve been cataloging those things that WordPress themes require to be the best money making writing themes out there as we go along so that until we do find a nice catalog of great WordPress themes for professional writers you can use the features for writers we have discovered to do your own analysis of themes that you find for yourself.

Today, we look at an important WordPress theme menu navigation feature that all good writer’s WordPress themes should have.

Customizable Menu Options for WordPress Themes

It is bad enough that as writers we have to dumb down our writing to fit into the outdated model that Google uses to index and rank search engine results. Clever titles and crafty writing are nothing more than suicide notes from writers who want more traffic to come to their websites. With that in mind, the writer should not also be further boxed into small minded navigation and menu options by theme developers who claim that all writers want from a WordPress theme is simple black and white text display.

While most on-page SEO tactics are nothing more than snake oil pedaled by SEO consultants and other search engine optimization experts, one critical SEO feature for writers is getting the right keywords in the titles of their webpages. Nothing gives a writer (or anyone else) a better chance of ranking high for a keyword or key phrase than exactly matching the search query typed into that little box on Google’s home page. To do that, requires titles that are occasionally wordy, or poorly framed. Fortunately, those bad writing titles can be hidden within the unused (by humans) title tags of the webpage in question. Then, a more sensical (but still optimized) title can be used in the H1 tags of the page.

All of this works provided that WordPress theme does not insist on taking whatever title it finds and jamming it into the menu bar or link list displayed automatically by the theme’s source code. For example, consider this money making blog theme currently being used here on makemoneywritingonline.com.

You see that menu in the upper right corner?

See that last tab? The one that says, “Writing Business Start-Up Guide“? You can about imagine why that is the title of the page. Fortunately, this particular theme uses small text up there and it doesn’t mess up the look of the theme, but that isn’t always the case. The problem is particularly acute for web developers and content publishers looking to take advantage of the Page functionality of WordPress. Many themes insist on listing all pages as menu options, and of course, using their full titles to do so. Unfortunately, most of them do not have the ability to deal with a WordPress blog that has enough pages to require two rows, or provide the webmaster with any easy way to configure which pages to display or how to have them titled when they are displayed.

So, we add another criteria for a good WordPress writer theme. Menu bars, side menus, and features that work based on displaying Pages must be configurable both for display as well as for which ones are displayed. All other themes shall be relegated to the for use only by Internet marketers and those who like flash over substance and success.

Theme on, my friends.

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How Good Are Google Search Result Rankings?

ranking Everywhere you turn people tell you the same thing about search engines; Google is the best search engine. Google is certainly the biggest search engine company. Depending upon whose numbers you want to believe, Google’s search market share is a whopping 71% or more. Google processes hundreds of millions of search queries every day and uses so many servers, computers, routers, and networking equipment that it recently got into the power business. But, does that make Google the best search engine? How good are its search results?

Quality of Google Search Results Page Rankings

Answering the question of how good Google’s searches are is not straightforward. There are numerous factors that can go into ranking websites and webpages as the best search result, or the number 38 search result. Which ones to include and how much weight each search ranking factor should be given is a matter of opinion. Some may claim that larger, better known, results should rank highest, while others would claim that the democratization of information is exactly what makes the Internet so powerful, therefore, no preference should be given to “mainstream” websites or their pages.

However, examining Google’s search results with human eyes often provides some insight into how well the company is doing when it ranks websites in the top ten search results. (UPDATE: The guys over at Search Engine Journal published a different look at what I was getting at here.)

Check out my freelance financial writer page.

Google tracks the preferences and history of most users. It uses this data to “personalize” the search results for that person. For example, if you often search for something like denver sightseeing, a search for something like tourist attractions may be skewed toward attractions in Denver, even though denver was not included in that particular search. Furthermore, if you often visit a specific website, especially by clicking on its links from searches, that site may be pumped up to a higher position in future searchers.

Many writers seeking to earn money writing online fall victim to this trap. Since they logically visit their own websites more frequently than others, they are likely to rank higher in most searches performed by the website author. Unfortunately, this often leads new writers into believing that they rank much higher than they really do for a particular search.

Always perform any searches that you want to use to see how things look to everyone else in your browser’s privacy mode. Google Incognito mode is useful for seeing unpersonalized search results and is my personal favorite, because it does not shut down your regular browsing session to go private.

Once you have launched a private browsing session, type in a few Google searches that you think would be productive ways of finding valuable information. Obviously, two word searches are difficult because there can be so much interpretation. Try better searches with three or four words. For an example, try “LCD versus Plasma”. Then try “LCD vs Plasma”.

google-search-results-quality-comparison

Despite Google’s insistence that it handles synonyms for you in searches, the differences between the results when using “versus” instead of “vs” are very different. This is technically an abbreviation, not a synonym, but the point remains that what results you get for your searches depends very much on EXACTLY what you search for. That is why writing to multiple keywords is so important.

You’ll notice throughout this site (and even in this article) I make an effort to link back for both “earn money writing online” AND “make money writing online” because it really does matter.

When you are out there writing content for yourself or your clients and building powerful backlinks to your best stuff, be sure to do the same. Otherwise, the best search engine in the world might not rank you as high as you deserve based on one tiny little word.

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