Bing Algorithm Update UK March 2011

Bing have been under fire recently for reportedly ‘copying’ Google search results – however, coincidence or not, it seems there has been a Bing Algorithm update. Using our Natural search tools we noticed a considerable shift in rankings the other day (in Bing), which could be an indication that the Microsoft giants have responded to this criticism to ‘find their own voice’. In the example below, I’ve taken a look at ‘iPod cases’ to see what websites have been hit and what websites have benefited from the Bing algorithm update.

December 18th 2010 Bing Algorithm Change

Just before Christmas I dropped Barry Schwartz a line on a significant change in Bing’s algorithm in the UK. This tweak appears to be just as significant, with many websites dropping out of the top one hundred altogether, having occupied a top twenty position previously. The two charts highlighted in the example below show the movement in Bing.com (from a UK IP) from mid February up to March 15th – the day after the algorithm was changed.

Big Bing Search Fallers – ‘iPod’

The chart below highlights the biggest fallers in Bing Search:

Graph showing drop in position for a number of website due to algorithm change in Bing

URLs

  • store.apple.com
  • ifrogz.com
  • www.apple.com
  • ipod.about.com
  • www.sailgb.com
  • ipod.about.com
  • www.case-mate.com
  • www.otterbox.com
  • www.nigelsecostore.com

Big Bing Search Risers – ‘iPod’

The chart below highlights the biggest risers in Bing search:

Graph showing the biggest risers form Bing's UK algorithm change

URLs

  • www.ithings.co.uk
  • www.wrappz.com
  • www.mymemory.co.uk
  • www.gadgetcase.co.uk
  • www.intorocase.co.uk
  • www.swimmer.co.uk
  • www.bagcrazy.co.uk
  • www.qfonic.com
  • www.casefun.co.uk
  • www.easyishop.co.uk
  • ipodcases.biz
  • ipod-cases.info

Insight into change

One of the most glaring and obvious factors is that eight of the top risers have a .co.uk Tld extension, with all of the domains that dropped using a .com Tld. Now, it’s not as simple as that, considering I have reviewed a few more sectors and seen .com domains improving dramatically – however, I believe that Bing are trying to find a balance between relevancy of search query and the target audience.

This is shown in the example below, one of the big winners from the December 18th update was www.case-mate.com:

Case Mate website - www.casemate.com

The case-mate.com site is a relatively nice looking with an accessible CSS based navigation menu. The title tag is completely crammed with keywords, however – in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t an issue at all. The main problem is highlighted below in that the website is focused on a US audience:

Case Mate website with highlighted US factors

US Audience Focus: The prices are in dollars, the contact number is a US phone number and the message at the top cites ‘FREE STANDARD SHIPPING on ALL U.S. Orders’. They do have an international offering, however that is on a completely different domain – which means that a UK user would have had to find the ‘international’ page from the footer and then click away from their original selection to a website that was deemed less relevant for their initial query.

So has this recent algorithm change improved the results so the SERPs are relevant to the country in which the searcher is located in rather than just based on language?

Just to add another domain into the mix – www.ipod-case.us – a lovely, nice keyword rich domain (an issue that has been raised in accordance to Google’s results since as early as June 2010) that has a ‘United States’ ccTld. Both websites dropped out of the top 100 on the same day, whilst www.ipod-case.us improved in position on December 18th, the day of the algorithm change, which saw more keyword rich URLs improving in position. At the time I didn’t notice the US significance, although from studying the data today – it is very clear to see:

US websites dropping in Bing

Maybe Google could copy Bing?

For all the smugness, accusations and gloating from Google – perhaps the giant search engine could take a leaf out of Microsoft’s book by looking at some of their own results that are dramatically skewed due to the difficulty in serving up results from separate countries that have the same language, eg English.

A very famous one to prove that not all results in the same language are relevant, is to search (from a UK IP) for ‘South Bank Restaurants’ – which returns a lovely selection of restaurants, in Melbourne Australia:

Google southbank restaurants in Australia

If Bing are trying to clean up their results so they are more relevant for the audience in question, then good job, let’s hope Google takes note so that they can help users that would like to go for a nice Saturday evening meal with their partner – rather than travel halfway across the world.