June 8, 2010

SEO Series Part 3: How Does Google Rank Bing?


Hostway Team

By Melissa J Luther

Within weeks of Bing’s launch, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was excited that Google was ranking the fledgling search engine in the top three results for what he called “bing-related” search terms. It might seem strange that Google should give such prominent ranking to a site many see as its biggest potential rival. But it isn’t, really. After all, Google’s goal is to provide the best, most relevant pages to searchers. If Bing fits that description for the terms searched, then it deserves a top spot.

Do The Major Search Engines Consider Each Other Valuable Resources?

Well, yes and no. Obviously searching on the engine’s name brings up its main page, along with some internal pages, Wikipedia entries and news results on the first page of results. The results are similar, although not identical, across the engines. The term “Bing” does bring up additional results not related to the search engine, like Bing Crosby on Yahoo! and Bing Overseas Studies from Stanford University, but that shouldn’t be surprising.

What’s more interesting is a search for the term “search engine.” A few results are similar, but the differences are quite interesting.

  • Google: Apparently Google considers Dogpile, a meta search engine, the most valuable search engine out there, rewarding it with the number one spot. Next is Ask.com, and Bing is at number three. Yahoo! barely makes the first page, coming in well below the Wikipedia entry for “Web search engine.”
  • Bing: Bing does not reciprocate Google’s top-three love. Dogpile gets the number one spot again, but then Bing lists more obscure sites, such as WebCrawler and Duck Duck Go. Neither Google nor Yahoo! make the first page, unless you count Yahoo!’s mention in Related Searches or the image of Google’s homepage next to a “Learn more about Web search engine” link.
  • Yahoo!: Despite Yahoo!’s new alliance with Microsoft/Bing, it prefers itself (#1) and Google (#2) over Bing, which gets the number four spot.

It’s interesting that Google and Bing agree on Dogpile, but not much else. It’s also interesting that Bing doesn’t list the search engine with the largest search market share on its first page. This doesn’t affect your rankings, of course, but it does suggest that:

  1. The three engines really do use very different algorithms to produce their results, and
  2. If you don’t find what you need on your first search attempt, try a different engine.

Does Google Care Where You Rank on Bing?

Google only cares how well your website fits into its algorithm, and your Bing (or any other search engine) ranking doesn’t appear to be a part of that calculation. Conversely, Bing’s apparent disdain for Google does not mean it will penalize you for ranking high there.

While many Web masters in various SEO-related forums have wondered why they rank well in Yahoo! or Bing, but don’t show up at all on Google, other sites manage to achieve similar rankings on both Google and Bing by balancing their SEO efforts to appeal to both.

About the Author

Melissa J Luther, owner and founder of LookSee Information Solutions, LLC, helps small businesses create and maintain a strong Internet presence. She takes a multi-channel approach, with a well-optimized Web site as the center of an Internet presence that includes content creation, PPC advertising, linking and social media as appropriate.

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