Building upon a post I wrote a few weeks ago about Microsoft having changed "MSN" to "Bing" well over a year ago, this post is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) call-to-action. Since I see so many people around the SEO industry using misinformation and/or outdated sales points (whether intentionally or not) to intrigue prospective clientele, I'd like to point out 3 up-to-date changes that I feel should be made in the sales copy of SEO agencies/freelancers industry-wide.
1- MSN: MSN is strictly a portal now and is no longer Microsoft's search engine; Bing is and it's the search engine utilized by all of Microsoft's search endeavors (MSN, Xbox, Windows Phone 7, et al). And for those of you who think Bing is a re-branded MSN search, you're completely wrong. Not only is the usability and interface of the two products worlds apart, but the algorithms and search technologies built into Bing were all being constructed under the code name "Kumo" separate from MSN while it was Microsoft's search engine. Once "Kumo" was ready to go live, it was officially named "Bing" and has now been Microsoft's search engine for over a year and a half at this point. As I noted in a previous post, it's time to stop telling people you will rank them in MSN and start telling them you will rank them in Bing!
2 - Yahoo: Put simply, Yahoo uses Bing's search engine results. To verify this for yourself, simply go to Bing and search for something. Then, head over to Yahoo and search for the exact same thing. Though the look and feel of Bing and Yahoo are different, the results are exactly the same. Ergo, how you rank in Bing is exactly how you will rank in Yahoo. With that said, I don't think agencies/freelancers should stop saying "we will rank you in Yahoo," because despite the fact that it uses Bing's search results -- for all intents and purposes -- it's its own entity and Yahoo currently shows to be the second most popular site on the Web according to compete.com. I just like clarifying right up front that to rank in Yahoo is directly proportional to ranking in Bing insofar as the results themselves. Which one you receive the most conversions from (between Bing and Yahoo) is the best data point to provide here since rankings are exactly the same.
3 - Ask: If you haven't heard yet, Ask.com is no more -- thus, so should be your offer to rank people on Ask.com. Though the site still exists, is functional, and Ask is planning to approach the Web from a different angle (via a new Q&A platform), as for its search engine functionality, they have ceased development completely. To quote Ask.com's owner, Barry Diller, "We’ve realized in the last few years you can’t compete head on with Google." And to be honest, I've not personally heard of anyone truly benefiting from ranking in Ask.com, so I always found it to be a rather moot offer to prospective clients.
So, why else should I bother going over the aforementioned points? Well, to start, here is what Godaddy currently offers on their SEO sales page:
We see Google and Yahoo, but where's Bing? "Windows Live" is where Bing should be in that equation. And for the record... Excite? HotBot? Netscape Search (aka AOL Search which uses Google results)? Wow. Seriously, GoDaddy? It's probably been at least 6 years since I've seen that HotBot graphic. :)
And to offer one more example, Attracta is an SEO agency who has a deal with my hosting company (Host Gator) to provide SEO services. On their "how it works" page, they have listed Google, Yahoo, Bing (yay!), and Ask. In my humble opinion, it's time to nix the latter from their sales pitch:
So, are the points above really that big of a deal? Not necessarily, because anything you stand to gain a positive ROI from is worth considering; i.e. submitting to obscure and/or near-obsolete search engines. But let's get real. At the end of the day, you can submit to every search engine that exists, but Google and Bing (and -- by extension -- Yahoo) are all that really matters right now (and Google much more so than any other).
In the spirit of keeping up with the times and staying current, I think SEOs stand to do just fine offering to help clients rank in Google, Bing, and Yahoo. In other words, I don't think you're going to have any clients banging your doors down because they're not ranking in Ask (or HotBot, Excite, Lycos, et al -- I'm lookin' at you, GoDaddy). Besides, if you set a standard for yourself and tell a client that you're going to help them rank in Ask (amongst other search engines), what are you going to say if they actually hold you to that and wonder why they aren't ranking in every search engine you said you would rank them in? "Yeah, about that... we meant to remove Ask.com from our site, sooo... I guess we'll do that now since you... asked."