Every major search engine provides hints and tips about how to optimize your pages for improved rankings on their sites. But when you read these guidelines you quickly see that most of it is just their own wish list. Things like ‘Write for humans not search engine bots – or – do not hide keywords with a font matching the background color.’ It is all good advice but kind of general and already well known (for the past decade.)
But there are always things a search engine will not tell you. And, of course, these are the things that make all the difference in your SEO efforts and results. That said; here are eight things that Bing does not want you to know (or you can skip to the Magic Formula section at the end):
1.) Your Domain Name Matters – A Lot
Search for just about anything on MSN / Bing and at least three of the top five matches will have some version of that keyword as the domain name. For example if you wanted to optimize for the keyword ‘my domain’ you should try to get the domain name ‘mydomain.com.’ If that is taken, opt for ‘my-domain.com.’ If that’s taken try for a name starting with ‘mydomain’ and ending with a word that is commonly associated. This is called LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing. A good example would be ‘mydomainname.com’ or ‘my-domain-name.com.’ BTW, Bing treats dashes as a space so as long as long as the dashes merely separate words, they are treated much like the non dash version.
2.) There is No Sandbox
Here’s some great news for anyone just getting started. Bing does not seem to care about the age of your domain name. There is no ‘sandbox’ like Google has. Many people, myself included, have registered brand new domains and had them ranking in a matter of days.
3.) DotCom Trumps DotNet
Today some search engines like Google will often give .net and .com virtually the same value, and possibly higher value for a .org that is for a recognized non-profit organization. Bing however appears to prefer the .com version. You can even see instances where a ‘.co.uk’ site gets high rankings simply because it uses the exact keyword in the domain name and .co is close enough to .com.
4.) We Like Sub Domains
Most web hosts will let you add sub domains to your website. On Bing, if you have the sub domain mydomain.mydomain.com you are in for some potentially great rankings. The same is true if you have my.domain.com, but to a slightly lesser degree.
5.) Less is More – Part One
We have been trained by Google to try to have hundreds of pages of quality content on every website. Bing adheres to the old policy that they are indexing web ‘pages’ not web ‘sites’ (like Google says they do, but Bing appears to really mean it.) This means each page is treated on its own merit so a site with one page has the same chances of being ranked as a site with 100 pages, because each page is genuinely treated individually.
6.) Less is More – Part Two
The same rule as above goes for on-page text. Pages with 800 to 1,200 words seem to do best on Google but on Bing the reverse is true, with 250 to 500 words being the magic number. Just do not overuse your keyword.
7.) Links are Nice But Not Required
Forget about spending your life building an ever growing number of inbound links for Bing. They do not need them. Your site, for now at least, is judged by its own merits, page by page.
8.) Be Bold not Strong
The original SEO method dating back to 1996 was using the H1 or ‘strong’ heading tags in your HTML. Forget them for now. Bing gives higher priority to how you would express importance in a word processor document; larger font and bolded text as the main markers.
Summary: I build hundreds of Bing (formerly MSN) targeted mini sites every year using the information above (as it has evolved) and the results have been consistent top ten rankings. You can do it too!
Here’s my magic formula for a one hour top ranking:
A.) Get the .com version of a three to four word keyword as the domain name (dashes are fine.)
B.) Use the domain name as the page heading in a bolded font, slightly larger than the paragraph text.
C.) Write 400 words of natural sounding text using the keyword up to five times.
D.) Mention the keyword once in the first sentence and once in the final sentence of the page – then up to three times scattered throughout the remainder.
E.) Bold one instance of the keyword. Italicize one instance of the keyword. Use one instance of the keyword as a link back to the same page.
F.) Always fill in your Title, Description and Keywords META tags. That’s it.
Good luck and take care!
PS: This works for Yahoo too.