Competition is good; well, at least that's what some businessmen will say. Competition keeps companies honest because it prevents monopolies, and it also spurs innovation.
In June 2009, Microsoft re-branded its MSN search engine into the Bing search engine. This engine has some very nice features, but according to our tracking of jewelry websites, only 7.63% of search traffic comes from Bing, so we don't pay attention to it much.
Although, Facebook is inching closer to becoming a full-fledged search engine using Bing, so that minuscule 7.63 might increase. Again, we'll let you know if it does.
Bing has one really good SEO feature for reverse engineering your competition's website, and that's the IP Address lookup. You can put the IP address of any website into the Bing engine and find out all the other websites hosted on the same web server with that same company. Believe us, that's a really cool feature.
Another feature is a bit useless for the business world, but it does help with making the web a little more user friendly. Bing allows you to change the background of their website to a customized photo you can either upload or select from their stock library. Imagine having a photo of you loved ones or pets in the background of Bing.
That's pretty cool and even Google thought so too. So they stole the idea. Some time ago, Google added the "Change background image" link to the bottom of their home page. Go ahead and try it. We'd recommend looking at the Editor's Picks and find the photo of a field with the blue letter "g" in it. Quite amusing!
There is one other cool Bing feature that that we liked, but not enough to use Bing on a daily basis. On their SERP you could hover your mouse over a result and have a small popup window appear showing a preview of the page you could visit. We wondered if this feature would pull users away from Google, but from our measurements we still didn't see an appreciable increase from Bing.
However, Google apparently doesn't want to chance the long term implications of this Bing preview feature. So they copied that, also. In early October 2010, a few random users of the Google Chrome browser were surprised to have sudden access to this preview feature. It seemed to turn itself on and off at random for about a month and Google didn't publicly announce it until last week.
Now when you search Google, you will see a little magnifying glass to the right of each SERP title. When you hover over it a preview popup will open to the right.
There are 3 serious implications of this new feature:
1. There is a chance your search term will be clearly marked in the preview.
2. The preview does not show content that requires plug-ins, including Flash.
3. The preview window blocks the Google AdWords column which means fewer click-throughs for AdWords users. This means increased impressions and longer campaigns with fewer clicks.
#1 above is a pretty good feature because if you've been working on your on-page SEO factors for a matching search term, they will be highlighted automatically.
#2 above actually rebukes the Google-Adobe-Flash cooperation we reported on yesterday. So much for Flash websites!
#3 above is going to be difficult to measure, but if you are running an AdWords campaign don't be surprised if your impressions jump up from now on, with a lower click through rate (CTR).
Just when we thought on-page SEO was secondary to new social media techniques, Google changes the game again to remind us all that optimization is still the most important thing to attract new customers.