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Google vs. Bing Part II: Link Analysis

Written by Anthony Verre   
Monday, 12 July 2010 14:12
By; Tony Verre

In Part 1, I looked at the onsite SEO factors and whether these had any favor or penalty within Bing or Google. The conclusion, based on the available data analyzed, was there wasn’t any reason to specifically optimize one area over another to get better SERP position in Bing, as both Google and Bing appear to be evaluating the exact same signals. Moreover, it appeared as if Bing was not focusing/targeting in on specific onsite factors that Google was not when determining SERP placement. If you want the whole story, check out Bing vs. Google Part 1 and download the data (provided graciously by Dave).

For Part 2 of Google vs. Bing, I’ve analyzed the linking of 3 of the 5 queries (though we'll be looking a single query for brevity's sake), the full first page SERP for both Google and Bing. Again, what I am attempting to answer here are a couple of questions:

  1. Do Bing and Google value links the same way?
  2. Is there a specific linking signal that Bing favors more?

Overall Domain Linking and Authority Directory Domains

It’s usually best to take a top-down approach, starting with very high-level statistics like overall links to the domain and citations in Yahoo Directory and DMOZ.

Because the sample size is small, this is only intended to infer possible trends and signals within the search engines. And, as you’ll see from the data (provided at the end of the post) much is dependant on the query and the competitiveness of keyword phrase. However, that being said, there were interesting findings, as you can see from the graphic above.

First, it appears that, at least from this query, that Bing does not place a great emphasis on Yahoo Directory listings or

DMOZ listings as an indicator of trust and authority. 4 of the 10 sites did not have a either a Yahoo or DMOZ listing, and 1 had a Yahoo but not DMOZ. Whereas the Google SERP all but 1 of the sites had DMOZ and Yahoo listings.

Second, it also appears that Bing, again based on the graphic above, does not wholly subscribe to strong link domain tallies as an inference of trust/authority. Clearly there are sites within the Bing SERP that just shouldn’t be there based on domain age and link domain totals (i.e. seo.india site). That it is, and in a prominent 3rd position, leads me to trust Bing’s results much less. Looking at Google’s SERP results, there, again, was only a single site that didn’t break the 10,000 backlinks mark. Indicating that Google may place a higher value on total link domain tallies than Bing does at this time.


Internal vs. External Linking to a Specific Page

The next area to look at was the page itself. (Note: in the case that the homepage was the page listed only those links were broken down by internal and external). Was there an internal vs. external link signal that Bing or Google looked at to determine SERP placement?

In my opinion, when I look at this data, I get the sensation that Bing is much more willing to overlook the fact that a page does not have any external citations. However, this is not to say that Google doesn’t overlook this too, but there does seem to tendency for Google to want to see external citations to pages more than Bing to indicate trust/authority.


Inbound Link Anchor Text

Using the same query, I analyzed the link anchor text, using SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer, of the 10 sites listed in Google’s SERPs and Bing’s SERPs. For this post we’ll look at Bing’s #1 and #2 vs. Google’s #1 and #2 to see if there is a determining factor.

Bing SEO Competitive SERP #1 and #2


Search Engine Watch may have less of a variety/variation of anchor text inbound to this page than SEO Book has, but they have the most citations with EXACT MATCH keyword phrase anchor text and close-match variations. This also explains why seo.india has third position too; in comparison with the other sites in the SERP, seo.india has more exact match inbound anchor text. So even in comparison with sites that are likely more trustworthy from content perspective, they have the anchor text.


Google SEO Competitive #1 and #2


Again, in this particular SERP, Search Engine Watch has the most citations with EXACT MATCH keyword phrase anchor text and close-match variations. Web Pro News does not have exact match inbound anchor text, but many close match variations. It would also appear that Google slices and dices a bit deeper, taking this inbound link anchor text either as their first signal or second signal, then moving outward to the total link domain tally. (Perhaps, that’s wishful thinking. I might be self-imposing some synchronicity there. :-D ) But, it appears the Google SERPs do their damnedest to keep link-authoritative sites, whether with exact keyword anchor text or not, front and center.


Link Discovery Graph

The next area is really quite subjective in that RTS (real time search) has given rise to extraordinary link spikes depending on the topic at hand. In that sense, you have to think about the content you publish and if a concurrent inbound link spike had anything to do with a trending topic. In this case, however, look at the query “seo competitive analysis” we safely assume that we aren’t in RTS-land.

To that end, instead of looking specifically for normalized link building trends [that is specifically looking for non-normalized link growth], I’m looking for cumulative gain and during this cumulative gain are there aberrations.

Bing SEO Competitive Top 5

Bing SEO Competitive Bottom 5

Google SEO Competitive Top 5

Google SEO Competitive Bottom 5


Overall Offsite Conclusion of Bing vs. Google

And, now to answer those pesky questions we started with at the beginning of this post: “does Bing value links differently than Google?” and “is there a linking signal that Bing favors more than Google?

Because we are diving into one specific query, but again, the entirety of the data will be provided below for independent analysis, nothing here is conclusive, but we can draw some inferences. To answer the first question, I would have to say there is a difference (though most likely negligible) in the way Bing treats and values authority directory domains (i.e. Yahoo Dir and DMOZ) than Google, considering this non-purchase-intent-query.

However, looking at the rest of the data, particularly more a purchase-intent driven query, like the shower heads query, both Google and Bing appear to treat them the same, though Bing does have more domains on the first page without a DMOZ citation. Take that for what it’s worth.

To answer the second question, in my opinion, the analysis would lean toward no. What I did find particularly interesting was just how powerful exact match anchor text was toward position. And, in that respect, I’d say that Bing does have a tendency to want to place sites with exact match anchor text for a query above more trustworthy sites, as in our SEO Competitive example. That does not mean I would advocate acquiring tons of links with one set of anchor text; variety is a necessity and “normal” link patterns don’t look like: “anchor text 1: 50, anchor text 2: 45, anchor text 3: 40”. Unnatural, to say the least, and looks a lot like someone might be manipulating their link graph.


The Real Big Picture:

Much of the information here isn’t new. It’s stuff we SEOs and SEMs have known for some time. Bing is a search engine, and to be competitive with Google, they can’t re-invent the search algorithm wheel as far non-RTS is concerned. They have to look at the same signals and factors Google does and produce results that are trustworthy, relevant, and helpful. In that respect, Google has the game licked. They did it first and do it best. There is nothing in Part 1 or Part 2 that indicates that Bing is looking at vastly different signals or favoring one signal over another.

There are some interesting notions, particularly on the offsite, as to how Bing treats and interprets authoritative domains and link anchor text. My advice: keep building architecturally sound websites that are indexable and crawlable, keeping building links with targeted anchor text, keep writing helpful, conversion-driven focused content, and your results will come.

NOTE; to get all the images and data from this post in ZIP format, CLICK HERE


Tony Verre
Author Bio: About the Author; Anthony Verre begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting is the founder and CEO of Silver Arc Search Marketing. Known at-large as "The Milwaukee SEO". He has worked in search engine optimization and search marketing for over 5 years. Recently published a new eBook eProfitability; a guide for C-Level executives and upper management to understand the search landscape and maximize their profitability online. (follow him on Twitter)

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