Last week I had a great chat with a few SEO peers about communicating. SEOs, like other niche professionals, usually speak a unique language. Where some developers (for example) usually have a client facing filter, SEOs often have to speak to business folk directly. That means an SEO needs to practice communication. Yes, practice!
A good, ethical SEO knows that nothing in this space is an absolute guarantee – no more than a lawyer can guarantee a win in court. But a good business person is bred to get as close to a "sure thing" as possible. For this reason, SEO can still be a hard sell despite articles being published every day about its importance. It’s vital that the ethical SEO go into a first meeting (or pitch) with this knowledge and an open mind. Time to listen, learn, and ultimately educate.
Sometimes taking it to the kindergarten level helps in learning a new language. It doesn’t matter how smart someone is as a business man – Spanish or French should still be taught first as a 101. So should SEO! So when broaching this, I find the analogies help a lot.
Think of SEO like racing. To win a race, not only does the car need to consistently be upgraded (aka optimized), but many factors need to be analyzed routinely like track builds, track conditions, talent of driver and pit crew, talent of competitors.
So let’s imagine you are a team owner. You implement an expensive, cutting edge exhaust system on your best car. You notice in your trials that the car clocked better, but you still didn’t win that week’s race. OK, can’t win them all! Next week you install a new suspension, but again lost the race. Worse, your competition still beat you soundly without the two optimizations you have. Uh oh. Some of your team starts to get frustrated and confused. Theories and options are flying. Chaos level rising!
But you do the right thing. You keep buying, trying, testing, and removing optimizations. You watch your competitors and study their moves for inspiration, but you don’t worry. You stay on target. Suddenly, towards the middle of the season something happens. You start placing in the top 5. The points and rewards (money) you’re receiving is slowly starting to add up. Chaos level lowering!
Eventually you start winning. Your wins offset all your losses with a healthy margin of revenue leftover to enjoy. But it’s important you think about next season, and your next level of racing. New technology will arise. New track conditions, new team members for both you and your competitors, and a hundred other factors will need your monitoring. Don’t sit still just because you’re winning – if you don’t stick with it, you’re going to fall behind again. You can’t afford to do that after all your investments.
Behold. Bing is alive. Bing is Microsoft’s newest search engine (codename Kumo), replacing Live Search (Live.com redirects, and the search box at msn.com is now a Bing box). Microsoft is putting a big $80 million into branding this; probably a reaction to some of their previous branding/rebranding failures. But if this is more of the same, it’s not going to beat Google despite all of the branding. Sure it can raise market share and improve ad revenue, but this needs to be a special search engine targeting a big “type” of searcher.
So is it? Not really.
First off, the results seem about the same as before. I don’t think they did much with the algorithm – if anything. My rankings all stayed the same. I still feel like I’m getting the same mainstream to junk site results ratio (my big complaint about Live were that the results were either really safe, or really useless – very little in the way of fringe, valuable hidden sites). I assume that if this takes off, more time and money will be poured into the algorithm.
I do like the Web Groups. For certain queries, a left navigation is generated with different related categories. These categories also appear in the body of the results. Useful when the engine can’t determine a searcher’s intent. This is their attempt at giving you wider results (and actually giving you more listings per page). Google does this too on occasion, but not this well in my opinion.
I also like other components of the interface. I’m still surprised that Google is still so plain and dull. Bing gives you more color, and uses the search engine result page real estate more efficiently. To the right of each result is a dynamic button (when you hover over a listing). This gives a summary of content by pulling HTML text from the site. I think this is useful once you get used to it. It’s also easy to ignore if you’re not interested.
A lot of the other stuff is very Google like. Same old related searches, same vertical results, and pretty much the same Live image results. Dig in and try it.