Operating on search engines and within SEO can be tricky. With so many methods and theories circulating the industry chatter it can be a challenge to remember the guidelines set forth by Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Here is a run down, word for work (taken directly from their respective pages that outline the rules), regarding the guidelines for each.
We strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the “Quality Guidelines,” which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise impacted by an algorithmic or manual spam action. If a site has been affected by a spam action, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google’s partner sites.
When your site is ready:
These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here. It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.
If you believe that another site is abusing Google’s quality guidelines, please let us know by filing a spam report. Google prefers developing scalable and automated solutions to problems, so we attempt to minimize hand-to-hand spam fighting. While we may not take manual action in response to every report, spam reports are prioritized based on user impact, and in some cases may lead to complete removal of a spammy site from Google’s search results. Not all manual actions result in removal, however. Even in cases where we take action on a reported site, the effects of these actions may not be obvious.
Quality guidelines – basic principles
Quality guidelines – specific guidelines
Avoid the following techniques:
Engage in good practices like the following:
These guidelines cover a broad range of topics and are intended to help your content be found and indexed within Bing. These guidelines will not cover every instance, nor provide prescriptive actions specific to every website. For more information, you should read our self-help documents and follow the Bing Webmaster Blog. Inside Bing Webmaster Tools account, you will find SEO Reports and our SEO Analyzer tool for on-demand scanning of individual pages. Both resources will offer basic guidance around what SEO work can be applied to a given website. Beyond these features and sources, you may wish to consider seeking advice from a third party expert.
Content is what Bing seeks. By providing clear, deep, easy to find content on your website, we are more likely to index and show your content in search results. Websites that are thin on content, showing mostly ads, or otherwise redirect visitors away from themselves to other sites quickly tend to not rank well. Your content should be easy to navigate to, rich enough to engage the visitor and provide them the information they seek and as fresh as possible. In many cases, content produced today will still be relevant years from now. In some cases, however, content produced today will go out of date quickly.
Links help Bing find new content and establish a vote of confidence between websites. The site linking to your content is essentially telling us they trust your content. Bing wants to see links grow organically, and abuses to this such as buying links or participating in link schemes (link farms, etc.) lead to the value of such links being deprecated. Excessive link manipulation can lead to your site being delisted.
Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.
Being indexed is the first step to developing traffic from Bing. The main pathways to being indexed are:
Managing how Bingbot crawls your content can be done using the Crawl Control feature inside Bing Webmaster Tools. This feature allows you to control when, and at what pace, Bingbot crawls your website. Webmasters are encouraged to allow Bingbot to crawl quickly and deeply to ensure we find and index as much content as possible.
This element has a direct impact on the satisfaction a user has when they visit your website. Slow load times can lead to a visitor simply leaving your website, seeking their information elsewhere. If they came from our search results that may appear to us to be an unsatisfactory result that we showed. Faster is better, but take care to balance absolute page load speed with a positive, useful user experience.
This file is a touch point for Bingbot to understand how to interact with your website and its content. You can tell Bingbot where to go, where not to go and by doing so guide its efforts to crawl your content. The best practice is to have this file placed at the root of your domain (www.yourwebsite.com/robots.txt) and maintain it to ensure it remains accurate.
This file is very powerful and has the capacity to block Bingbot from crawling your content. Should you block Bingbot, we will not crawl your content and your site or content from your site may not appear in our search results.
This file often resides at the root of your host, say, www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml, and contains a list of all of the URLs from your website. Large sites may wish to create an index file containing links to multiple sitemap.xml documents, each containing URLs from the website. Care should be taken to keep these files as clean as possible, so remove old URLs if you take that content off your website.
Most websites have their sitemap files crawled daily to locate any fresh content. It’s important to keep your sitemap files clean and current to help us find your latest content.
If you move content on your website from one location to another, using a redirect makes sense. It can help preserve value the search engine has assigned to the older URL, helps ensure any bookmarks people have remain useful and keeps visitors to your website engaged with your content. Bing prefers you use a 301 permanent redirect when moving content, should the move be permanent. If the move is temporary, then a 302 temporary redirect will work fine. Do not use the rel=canonical tag in place of a proper redirect.
The rel=canonical element helps us determine which version of a URL is the original, when multiple version of a URL return the same content. This can happen when, for example, you append a tracking notation to a URL. Two discrete URLs then exist, yet both have identical content. By implementing a rel=canonical, you can tell us the original one, giving us a hint as to where we should place our trust. Do not use this element in place of a proper redirect when moving content.
Search engine optimization is a valid practice which seeks to improve a website, making content easier to find and more relevant. Taken to extremes, some practices can be abused. The vast majority of instances render a website more appealing to Bing, though performing SEO-related work is no guarantee of rankings or the possibility to receive traffic from Bing. The main area of focus when optimizing a website should include:
This is when you show one version of a webpage to a search crawler like Bingbot, and another to normal visitors.
Such schemes are intended to inflate the number of links pointed at a website. While they may succeed in increasing the number, they fail to bring quality links to the site, netting no positive gains.
Like farms are similar to link farms in that they seek to artificially exploit a network effect to game the algorithm. The reality is these are easy to see in action and their value is deprecated. Auto follows encourage follower growth on social sites such as Twitter. They work by automatically following anyone who follows you. Over time this creates a scenario where the number of followers you have is more or less the same as the number of people following you. This does not indicate you have a strong influence. Following relatively few people while having a high follower count would tend to indicate a stronger influential voice.
These redirects reside in the code of a website and are programmed for a preset time interval. They automatically redirect a visitor when the time expires, redirecting them to other content. Rather than using meta refresh redirects, we suggest you use a normal 301 redirect.
Duplicating content across multiple URLs can lead to Bing losing trust in some of those URLs over time. This issue should be managed by fixing the root cause of the problem. The rel=canonical element can also be used but should be seen as a secondary solution to that of fixing the core problem. If excessive parameterization is causing duplicate content issue, we encourage you to use the Ignore URL Parameters tool.