Tag Archive for bing

Google Scrapes your Content

One interesting item I noticed late last night when checking one of my websites Flights-au.com.au on my WindowsPhone was that I was not seeing my website, when I was visiting the site via a Google.com.au search query. We are not talking my website was hacked and it was showing something else it was actually showing a completely stripped down text version of my website. It appeared as if my website’s content was scrapped by Google!

I quickly tested visiting the same website from Bing and it showed my normal website but the same search query from Google.com.au was showing a different version and not the WordPress site. So this ruled out that it was my WindowsPhone showing a mobile version of the WordPress site it was actually an entirely scrapped version of my site now powered by Google.

I had assumed there was something wrong with my site and I didn’t think too much of it until today towards the end of SMX Melbourne when I finally had a chance to look at the issue in more detail.

I checked the same search query result in Google.com.au on my friend Mike’s iPhone and it was showing the website correctly as it should be, but the same search query on my phone again showed the scrapped Text version of my site.

The scrapped version of my site started with a message at the top of the page reading “this page adapted for your browser comes from www.flights-au.com.au and is not endorsed by Google.”

The base of my webpage shows a Google search box, with links back to Google search results or Google home. There is also a disclaimer that reads “Formatted for mobile viewing by Google”. You can  see the screenshot of it below.

Google Scrapes your Content on Mobile

My website is now also being served from this URL and not from the actual website URL. The big issue is that Google has scrapped my entire site removed any advertising banners and removed all of the CSS styling the template offers. The other issue besides robbing publishers of onsite advertising revenue it also means under reporting of actual website visitors within Google Analytics as there is no tracking script on this mobile version.

Google does advise that they might serve your website here, but if you don’t want Google to transcode your site you must specify by adding in an extra meta tag into your <head>.

<link rel=”alternate” media=”handheld” href=”alternate_page.htm” />

This issue appears to be happening to all visitors using Google.com.au mobile version and is not dependant on the website quality, keywords or the CMS. It is Google scrapping your content and serving on it’s own even if you set your mobile browser to load desktop versions of websites.

If you think about the growth of mobile search traffic and the amount of visitors using mobile Google this problem is quite a significant issue and seems to be focused on WindowsPhone users and not iPhone users. This is most likely going to be an issue for anyone trying to monetise their website but don’t have a specific mobile ready website….

Bing Auto SERPs

Bing Autos LogoWhile the world turns back to Detroit for the 2011 North American International Auto Show, we see a new feature being rolled out from Bing that adds in an enhanced auto result to it’s decision engine. It seems that this move follows their Farecast platform that presents much of the information you need to book flights, hotels or holidays, but is not yet as closely integrated within the search results.   It is interesting that this Auto product wasn’t released sooner as it does seem a much smarter way to search for a new car or fall in love with the Ford Mustang once again.Below is the current standard Bing search result for a “2010 Ford Mustang”, but you can now see a new tab “Autos” showing just next to “Web” at the top of the search results.  The new Bing results don’t currently blend the Auto results into the standard results but keep the results more transparent by segmenting them into a new Autos tab.

Bing Standard Result

The new Bing Autos results are shown in the two screenshots below and are vastly visually different from the standard Bing results but the primary bits of information are already showing in the standard search results but this may increase as Bing understands user behaviours and preferences overtime. Just as Google is able to adjust and adapt their product quickly due to the sheer volume of users testing it’s platform as Bing grows expect to see more radical changes to new products like Bing Autos occurring faster.

New Bing Auto Results

New Bing Auto Results

Bing Auto Reviews

Bing Auto Reviews

You can see from the hyperlinks from the page that much of the information is still being drawn in via Autos.MSN.com but using the Bing platform they are able to make the data more searchable and the usability has also been greatly improved with a much lighter and quicker loading interface than the old Autos.MSN.com portal. While much of the owner reviews information is been linked from Autos.MSN.com it still prevents a lot of information in a nice clean, clear and concise way and it’s mostly free of advertising except for 2 at the top right side. The auto reviews tab does allow for some fairly cool analysis of your car with owner ratings & reviews and even video reviews of your car.

How does Google compare against Bing Auto?

The closest comparison that I could find was Google Shopping tab but that seems to be mostly occupied with Die Cast Metal Collectibles and some Ford Mustang spare parts, not really anything spectacular at this stage.

Google Shopping Results

Google Shopping Results

What could make Bing Auto better?

While it’s clear that the platform has just launched and will certainly undergo some massive changes, here are a few initial points that I wished had been there at launch, including a comparison engine where you can view multiple cars side by site.  I can understand that they are being more commercial sensitive to their commercial partners and don’t yet want to ruin them by launching a loan comparision website as Google did covered in more detail in my post Google Mortgage Rates.

The left side menu offers 3 primary filters for Auto Results

  1. Model (sorted by Price)
  2. Competitors
  3. Model years (sorted by year)

Suggested Bing Auto Improvements

  • It would be great to see some new types of filters – fuel type, drivetrain, transmission, seating, coupe?
  • It would be useful to see 3 call to action buttons (Buy, Lease, Rent) even as sponsored links/sites
  • Consider using language specific to regions such as outside the USA “Bing Cars” instead of “Bing Autos”

It’s very interesting to see how Bing is working to differentiate it’s platform from Google but based on this Auto platform they could expand quickly to other verticals quickly and easily using data within the MSN network.  I suggest you check out the Ford Mustang and have a play around with their platform, just remember you may have to set your preference for country to USA by the link at the top right if you are based outside USA.

Bing for Android

Bing MobileThe Bing Community broke the announcement today that Bing for Mobile was coming to Verizon Android users and would be expanding its app to other carriers and mobile devices soon. In an interesting move where mostly the big tech blogs are the first to feature breaking news and particularly anything to do with Mobile or Google will likely be annoyed that one of the first sites to cover the launch in detail was Seattle Technology Blog TechFlash.

So in what looks like the Microsoft marketing machine is finally starting to get rolling and has finally got mobile users in the center of its development plans, so it will be interesting to see what other Microsoft applications might also be coming to your Verizon Android phone soon.

The Bing maps function has finally evolved beyond Google maps as it will automatically find your current location and intergrates some local business features that third party apps have offered for years.  You can now search for new places based on categories such as cafes, banks or cinemas which is going to prove useful if Bing Maps intergrates with Yelp or FourSquare data. There is till no real integration with local checkin apps and it will be interesting to see which of the companies is first to ink a deal to be the exclusive provider of checkin data via an API.

Bing Maps for Mobile

Bing Maps Update
The new Bing for Mobile App even has a zoom button for one handed operation of its Bing Maps that doesn’t require you to use the “pinch to zoom” feature, which is useful for drivers who continue to use their phone while driving, when holding an umbrella or when carrying stuff with the other hand.  Small little features show that much thought has gone into developing the new app specifically for the Android user and it will be interesting to see how updates are rolled out which might show a sign of whats to come with the new Windows7 Phone.

Bing Travel for Mobile?
Its interesting to see what looks like Bing Travel has been built into the application with the ability to do a voice search to find flight information to see arrival and departure times and can offer other details such as Traffic, Hotels, Weather and Local news relevant for that flight. You can see the example screenshot below that shows the details for United Flight 635 leaving from Chicago to Seattle, but its not clear why you might need to know Hotel information for a departing flight.  The addition of Traffic and Weather are great to find out if a flight maybe delayed but just basic quirks show the application still needs some usability testing to make it more intuitive to users.

Bing Travel for Mobile

Why Verizon?
Bing has been smart in their selection of the US carrier who was the focus of Google’s Droid Marketing campaign back in November 2009.  Google used Verizon to help build its platform up within the US market so its likely that Bing can now benefit by having an existing user base who can utilise their mobile app.

Why Android?
Leading up to the launch of Windows7 Phone later this year, Microsoft has started to move their resources towards allowing consumers to experience its Bing platform on as many devices as possible.  Already having a application for the iPhone and Blackberries, Android was the next logical step.

Why did it take so long?
Based on the community post it seems that much of the Bing application has been built to take advantage of the power of the Verizon Droid phones, so its not just a standard development project but a look how to get users to experience Bing with the best experience.

Bing avoids AT&T?
It is possible that Bing has avoided AT&T due to the possible impact on user experience if the network is unable to provide high speed internet access at all times.  The new Bing app appears to be fairly graphically and would likely be fairly bandwidth hungry based on some of its visual features. According to Comscore’s Mobile Subscriber stats for April 2010, Verizon has around 31.1% of the market which allows Bing to reach a very larger subscriber base in just one development release.  Verizon also like most carriers loves exclusive offering to entice customers and reduce churn rate, so expect some marketing campaigns around the launch will start soon.

Waiting to test it
I haven’t had a chance to play with the new Bing for Mobile application yet but I can see the experience is much better than the current offering on my Blackberry so I look forward to trying it out to see if its as cool as it sounds.  If you have had a chance to use it please drop a note in the comments with your initial reactions.

Updated Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster LogoFollowing on from Google Webmaster Tools update, the team over at Bing have been busy and have finally taken the wraps of a vastly improved Bing Webmaster Tools. The official Bing blog states that the platform was rebuilt following feedback and all the updates were based on the webmaster and seo community feedback which called for more transparency on Bing. The platform also offers a hint of further updates coming in the following months which will likely add or adapt many of the Yahoo Site Explorer functionality. There has been much concern that much of the functionality that Yahoo offers maybe lost to webmasters so its great to see such a large improvement in the Bing search tools.

The new Bing webmaster tools offer more data on how Bing crawls and indexes your sites, what content is contained in the Bing index and guidance to help you optimise your sites for Bing.
The new Bing Webmaster tools provides a more intuitive experience focused on 3 areas key for search.
  1. Crawl
  2. Index
  3. Traffic
Bing Webmaster Sites Dashboard
The top level view shows a master list of all the sites you have verified in your Bing webmaster console, it shows an overview of clicks, impressions, pages indexed and pages crawled.  The other cool feature is it shows the percentage of change and an easy colour coded arrow to show if the change was positive or negative which makes it easy to spot problems or issues when you have a large number of sites.
Bing Webmaster Sites
Bing Webmaster Dashboard
The drill down into an individual site shows the current status of your site in Bing and the recent trends of your website’s activity within Bing search results
Bing Sites Dashboard
Bing Crawl & Index Summary
The top level view shows you a summary of pages crawled, pages with crawl errors, pages indexed and impressions and clicks. You can drill down into each of these section to see more details and information.
Bing Crawl Summary
Bing Crawl Summary Details
The crawl summary shows upto 6 months of crawl data so you can learn more about any issues that the Bingbot might have had while crawling your website.
Bing Crawl Summary DetailsBing Index Summary
You can explore your site’s directory and pages contained in the Bing index.
Bing Index Summary
Bing Traffic Summary
Similar to the recent Google Webmaster tools update, but much better as Bing offers upto 6 months of traffic data so you can track search query performance over time.
Bing Traffic Summary
Bing Search Queries
Bing also offers details around what keywords are showing in Bing search results, how many impressions they are getting along with clicks and average click-thru-rate from search results to your website.
Bing Search Queries
All Bing webmaster accounts get it!
The great point is that all the Bing webmaster accounts have been automatically upgraded to the new interface, no beta requests no delays just wonderful fresh interface ready to explore today.
Bing webmaster tools supports Chrome
The other point is that the whole platform runs perfectly in Google’s Chrome Browser which is what was used to generate all the images shown in this post.
Bing offers transparency
The more comprehensive and refined view from Bing gives the webmaster and seo community more transparency around whats contained in the Bing index, and i’m excited to see what new tools are going to be rolled out next.  This webmaster re-development seeks to improve transparency to help marketers and business make better decisions and offers more control over your sites in Bing. So I advise that you use Bing webmaster tools today! If you haven’t verified your website in Bing yet, do it now and start to explore how you can get more traffic from Bing, the interface is free to use and offers some wonderful insights into your seo.

Google Funds PPC Agency

Trada LogoIt was announced by NYTimes and on Trada’s own blog that Google ventures has made an investment in the crowd sourced ppc agency Trada.com. Trada closed a US$5.75 million Series C round of financing led by Google Ventures and Foundry Group to increase its cash balances and working capital to continuing expanding its network of ppc specialists beyond 500.  The money raised in the latest funding round will be spent on international expansion to covers markets such as Canada, UK and Australia.  It will improve support for Trada campaigns in multiple time zones, currency support and banking details such as credit cards that currently make running some campaigns outside the US less efficient.

According to the press release, Trada plans to expand its platform to cover new types of advertising such as text ads on blogs, banner display, mobile and video ads.  The next expansion is planned around Facebook Ads but also what they can do with the Trada platform on other social platforms such as Twitter.

Does Trada get preferential treatment in Google?

The company argues that it will actually be under more scrutiny by Google because of the nature of their relationship, Google and Google Ventures are separate entities but still questions maybe asked by other technology platforms.  The obvious benefit of the Series C funding means Trada can scrap any plans or requests for what Google may consider grey areas of marketing.  The company will potentially slow the growth in some markets who are looking to bend or twist the search engines ppc rules. similar to the ITA Software purchase by Google recently it does place Trada in an interesting position with Microsoft/Bing. While Trada has plans to expand its platform it’s too early to see how the investment may change their business models if Google makes a decision to purchase more shares.

How does Trada work?
1) Setup client’s ppc campaigns in Trada, and request to add new campaigns on demand
2) Get the best ppc experts in the world to work on your campaigns
3) Complete control of your clients relationships and campaigns
4) PPC ads begin to run on Google & Bing
5) Conversions/Clicks are generated and shown on customised reports
Watch more about the Trada.com platform

Google Suggest offers Local Results

One of the long standing criticism about software and search engines has been the reliance on US english as a default setting.  Even with search engines the sheer volume of traffic from UK or USA has long affected search results and even suggested results. Often search results are also skewed by language settings such as UK (english) or US (english) and many of the results shown in the search results are for websites or companies not offering services in your local country.  So a keyword query may still show UK websites because of the common language shared between Australia and the United Kingdom.
Localised Regional Results for Australia
Sometimes some of the features rolled out don’t actually work as well as advertised so this recent update to Google Suggest seemed worthy of a blog post.  Google has long tried to offer suggested results shown below your query as you type but it seems they have finally clicked that US or UK queries are different to Australian users.
Did you mean still US focused
It seems that not everything is yet rolled out outside the US markets for some of the other improved results for enhanced spelling for names using the did you mean link.  This feature is useful as each country/language can spell common names slightly different.
Google vs Bing
Below are a number of real examples of Australian terms and how the new improved localised search results offer a vast improvement over past search suggestion results.
Localised Search Queries for Google.com.au and Bing.com.au
Partial Search Query Keyword: ”AFL”
Google Analysis: Much of the results proved to be relevant but could have been better if they had of been matched to my Brisbane location and offered AFL news/results for the Brisbane Lions.
Bing Analysis: Bing seemed to offer some less relevant results as the top result relates to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and the 3rd result was related to a US/European Fiber/Telecommunications company.
Partial Search Query Keyword: ”Bridge”
Google Analysis: The Google suggested results seem to have a few related results such as the annual “Bridge to Brisbane” marathon, it also featured popular Novel/Film “Bridge to Terabithia” but fails to be fully relevant as “Bridgewater Mill” is located in Adelaide, South Australia.
Bing Analysis: The Bing suggested results seemed to fall short of offering anything geographically relevant, with financial products, corporate housing/apartment companies and entertainment novels/games.
Partial Search Query Keyword: “Broncos”
Google Analysis: The results are quite well matched to the search intention, but could be improved with some news/fresh topic suggestions.
Bing Analysis: The 4th result “Broncos Country” is actually related to the Denver Broncos along with “Broncos Post”, and it is less likely that Brisbane based residents would mean “Broncos for sale”. Also the actual Bing image results are only related to the NFL team “Denver Broncos” even as the top result is for the “Brisbane Broncos”.
Partial Search Query Keyword: “Clem”
Google Analysis: The Clem7 is the latest billion dollar traffic tunnel to open in Brisbane and BBDO’s Brisbane office is “Clemenger BBDO”, but fails to be relevant as “Clemton Park Public School” is located in New South Wales and not Queensland.
Bing Analysis: Bing seems to miss the entire intention of the search query and it seems much of the results are related to Clemson University based in South Carolina, USA.
Partial Search Query Keyword: “Cricket”
Google Analysis: Most of the results seem relevant but would be useful to see location specific suggestions such as the “Brisbane Bulls” or even “Cricket Queensland”.
Bing Analysis: Bing search suggestions seem to miss the mark on a number of suggestions as it offers suggestions around US Wireless cellphone companies and broadband services.
Partial Search Query Keyword: “Opera”
Google Analysis: Google understands that the intention would likely be around the Opera House in Sydney, but also offers some suggestions matched to technology with the “Opera Browser” and “Opera Mini”, along with local band “Operator Please”
Bing Analysis: Bing seems to miss the entire geographic relevance with a pure tech focus, and even offering a suggestion for “Opera House Boston” which is far less likely and much less known than the Australian Opera House.
How the new results compare against Bing
Hopefully Bing also makes some updates and improves its localised results as they gather more search query data from Australian users. I have run several search queries on Google.com.au and Bing.com.au shown above in the screenshots and you can see the difference that the regional tailored search results offer. The image results for both search companies also seems to be mixed with a failure to offer geographic relevant images consistently.  The big difference in results is also based on the vast difference in search query data that is used to refine suggested results, so its likely that Bing will improve and hopefully soon…

Binged.it URL Shortner

A number of the leading web properties have been adding URL shortners to their product suite over the last year since Tr.im was almost closed.  The warning sent off alarm bells with companies as what would happen if the service they were using went bankrupt or the company decided to limit server resources or even change direction and sell their users data?

There is small signs on places like Twitter that Microsoft staff have started using Binged.it as their URL shortener but they are not the first nor the last company to build their own platform. It appears to be used just for internal purposes at this stage more for marketing and social media purposes.

As SeattlePI pointed out it was actually Michael Gillett of My Microsoft Life who actually noticed the tweet, but even then it was tweeted a week earlier.  With so many people watching Twitter and Bing, how can no-one else notice this earlier, and a congratulations to Michael for finding the needle in the haystack.

Domain Redirect?

Since the story was first published by SeattlePI, there has been some issues that have been corrected as it has been corrected since reported that when you visit http://binged.it it used to take you to http://Bit.ly but this has now been addressed and you are taken to http://www.Bing.com.

Since this had only just been changed, we thought that we could check if they had done it correctly.  The small point that they have still not addressed is that they setup the redirect process like this.

  1. http://binged.it (302 response)
  2. http://bing.com (301 response)
  3. http://www.bing.com

The issue is that there is an extra step involved in the redirection process, and possibly better for other URL shortners is that Bing will get less seo advantage from the backlinks built up in time. We had a quick look at a number of the other leading URL shortener’s and how many others are just for internal/company purposes.

WordPress “WP.me”

WordPress launched WP.me as part of the WordPress.com free blogging service, where you can just click “get shortlink” and you get your Twitter/Facebook friendly URL. The other benefit is that the URL is less likely to be affected by malicous links because WordPress is very proactive on Spam.  The other point about the WP.me is that they are generated from a WordPress.com blog post and not any random URL found online.

So the URL shortening service will be around as long as WordPress is around which gives users much more confidence to start using the service as an alternative. A side point courtesy of Mashable is that WP.me was the only 2 letter .me domain in the world before Facebook FB.me was launched.

Google “Goo.gl”

Google not one to miss out on a new toy has launched its own URL shortner Goo.gl but similar to WordPress it is only using it for its product suite and not using it for public URLs.  It is slowly been rolled out across Google’s extensive list of products but two of the most requested products to have the URL shortener is Google Docs and Google Analytics.  The URLs these products generate can fill several lines and a shortened version would prove very useful. A small indication of how likely the product will be made public anytime soon is that the copyright year is still set to 2009, where every other Google property has been updated to 2010.  This means that a small amount of resources are being made on the public face of the product and is likely being allocated to getting the backend system right.

Google advises that its url shortener system is built around 3 key principals: stability, security, speed

Facebook “FB.me”

Facebook had started the rollout of FB.me suited for sharing URLs, and it could also be used a shortener for accessing Facebook, so you could type in Fb.me/cocacola to access the Coke fan page. But when we tested it while writing this post it showed an error screen and this url http://www.facebook.com/expand.php?short_key.  So it looks like the product is still being tested or might be in the process of being updated?

“Bit.ly”

This is the leading URL shortner and one that has an agreement with Microsoft, and a very close relationship with Twitter.  It is even expanding with Bit.ly PRO launched last year that enables companies like Microsoft to have their own branded URLs. Some of the Bit.ly powered domains are :

  • nyti.ms
  • 4sq.com
  • mee.bo
  • tcrn.ch