Search Engines & Webmasters: Bing and Blekko

November 10, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Oh my God, hold on! It’s the very last session of PubCon and they are ROCKIN’ the music. I just sauntered up to the front of the room like my paycheck depended on it. My own personal catwalk. Look alive at home, folks, because the energy is PUMPING here in Vegas.

We’re not wasting time on banter. Up first is Rick Skrenta from Blekko.

Blekko’s mission is to deliver an alternative editorial voice in search. We have two major search engines in the market and search is too important to only have two voices.  Options are good for the consumers. They want to take a different editorial take on Web search for the Web.  Web is editorial, even when it’s written by algorithms because people write the algorithms. Blekko wants to inject humans into the mix.

Google and Bing are both great, but they’re similar products.  Steve Ballmer said himself that 70 percent of the time they deliver the same results. Blekko wants to deliver 10 different results.

Blekko’s Editorial Voice

  1. Spam free
  2. Open and transparent
  3. Human-curated
  4. Quality over quantity
  5. Authoritative sources

Algorithms + People = Better Search

They’re using the Wikipedia model to curate searches. No spam, all high quality. Most of the Web is junk. The Web has grown a thousand fold over the past 10 years. You don’t need 50 million chicken recipes, you need three good ones. A lot of the spam is coming from Mechanical Turk. He says that 50 percent of the job listings on Mechanical Turk are spam generation (!). That’s quite a claim. It’s human-authorized spam.

Spam is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people love pizza fliers, to others its spam. Blekko is improving queries in 110 categories. They’re the autoboost categories. And it works.

A few months ago they put a game on their home page and asked people to pick the search engine they liked best, stripping the branding off. 68 percent of the time people picked Blekko.

They’re also doing curation partnerships. They did one with Stack Overflow. They did one with SB Nation. They have pools of experts who are passionate about their topic.

They have other cool features like Date Sort where you can sort results by day. They have open, free SEO data. You can get all the SEO information Blekko knows about a site – how many links you have, how many pages, etc.

Blekko launched about a year ago and they’ve had steady growth since then. They just closed on 30 million of funding. They’re going to use it expand computing infrastructure, make the index bigger and update it more often.

Next is Duane Forrester from Bing.

He asks people to raise their hands if they want 50 dollars. Then 100 dollars. 200. He has coupons for 50 dollars in AdCenter. People seem less excited about that. He also asks if everyone knows about Movember. That’s why he has a fuzzy lip. It’s not because he’s lazy and doesn’t respect us. It’s because, like most men, he can’t actually grow facial hair.

Before we get started:

  • Last week Bing released expanded crawl details.
  • Active email alerts: If they find malware on your site, they’ll ping you. If they see you blocking content, they’ll ping to make sure you don’t want it crawled. Basically, Bing is Santa and can see you when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake…and then ask if you wanted to be that way.
  • URL Normalization: Canonicalize more of those pesky URL parameters. Now up to 50 parameters.
  • Deeper data in Index Explorer: See more, do more.
  • DNS verification
  • AdCenter data integration

He wants to talk about the overlap between social and search. It’s something people need to pay attention to. SEO is not going to be dead in the next six months like Leo Laporte said on Tuesday.

He shows a graph about what search engines value most. In order:

    1. Content
    2. Social
    3. User Experience
    4. Link Building
    5. SEO

Top 5 SEO Investment Areas

  1. Crawlability
  2. Site Structure
  3. Content Hierarchy
  4. On Page Factors/Content Production
  5. Link Building

Search and Social

When optimizing your site for search, you invest in these major areas:

  • Quality: Content, links, appearance
  • Trust: Authority, Usefulness, Resource
  • Popularity: Traffic, Repeat, Visits, Links
  • Timeliness: Current, Fresh, Relevant

How social impacts search – he shows all the ways that Bing integrates social into the search results to show trusted resources and user votes of confidence.


Both of you seems like you’ve spent more time talking about social media – should I be pumping social media more in the next year?

Rich: I definitely would. When you talk about the value of a social signal – it’s like what links were a few years ago. That’s how someone is vouching for a site these days – tweets, Facebook comments, +1s.

Duane: Yes. Get active on social. There’s a reason they have a partnership with Facebook. That’s where the future is going and it’s worth investing in.

Duane, you guys have done a good job partnering with Facebook with Twitter, what about Google+? Will you incorporate it and will you be as in-depth as with Facebook and Twitter?

Duane: Are you kidding? [everyone laughs]  He doesn’t think it’s on their radar. At some point, they’ll have to, but not immediately.

Duane, I’m curious if the data inside the Bing Webmaster Tools is a full or sample data set.

Duane: Whole.

I love that in the SEO Tools, you expose how many sites you found duplicate content on. I’d love if you’d show what sites those are so I can go get them.

Rich: That seems to have dropped out when we added a new feature. We’ll bring that back and add more capabilities.

Bing, there was some talk about the use of authors as a way for qualifying content. Is something Bing will do?

Duane: That is not something I’m aware of but it’s a scenario that plays out like this – we have to say “here’s a way to mark up your content”. As people adopt these things, they become greater and more valuable signals to us. Rel=Author is the same thing.

There’s a lot of attention into link building and social media, but Mechanical Turk is very busy generating link and social media so these signals can be artificially created. The one thing that can’t be is high quality content.  At some point, will links be phased out in importance and the actual content would become King (or Queen).

Duane: No. Links are not going to go away. Not any time soon. Good links are built by people sharing content. That happens all the time, you just don’t get the anchor text.  He mentions how “Like” farms are forming and how they create very obvious footprints.

What’s the health of the Yahoo/Bing relationship?

Duane: Very healthy. They know power their results world-wide, except Korea.

And we are done. Thanks so much for hanging out with us all of PubCon. Hope you enjoyed it. I’ll see you back in Troy. ;)

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