Weekly SEO news: 12 October 2010
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

A new patent application of Microsoft indicates that Microsoft's search engine Bing might deliver different results based on the intent of the searcher and the time of the year. How is this done?

In the news: Google officials talk about using the pipe symbol in URLs and how long it takes until your website gets rich snippets in the search results, you get the latest search engine statistics and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Time-shift: how Bing changes the search results based on temporal events

A new patent application of Microsoft indicates that Microsoft's search engine Bing might deliver different results based on the intent of the searcher and the time of the year.

What is the search engine patent about?

Here's the official abstract of the patent application:

"Techniques and systems are disclosed for returning temporally-aware results from an Internet-based search query. To determine if a query is temporally-based one or more query features are collected and input into a trained classifier, yielding a temporal classification for the query.

Further, if a query is classified as temporal, the query results are shifted by determining an alternate set of results for the query, and returning one or more alternate results to one or more users.

Based on user interactions with the one or more alternate results, the classifier can be updated, for example, by changing the query to a non-temporal query if the user interactions identify it as such."

Bing time shift

Different results at different times of the year

A meaning of a search query can shift over time. People searching for "independence day" probably mean the US Independence Day if the search is done around July 4th.

They can also mean the Indian Independence Day if the search is done around August 15th. It is also possible that people are searching for information about a movie if a movie with that name is in theaters at that time.

Based on temporal indicators, Bing wants to return the most probable results for the search.

How does Bing classify queries as temporal?

According to the patent application, Bing takes the following into account:

  • If the frequency of searches for certain queries increases, this can indicate a temporal nature if this happens around certain dates.
  • Increases of mentioned in blogs, microblogging services and increased updates in online encyclopedias can indicate a temporal nature.
  • A sharp increase in a click-through rate, abandonment, or reformulation of a query may indicate that a meaning for the query has shifted temporally.

To find out if a search query is still temporal, Bing might sometimes show alternative results to a number of searchers to see how they interact with the results.

Their responses could determine whether or not the search engine continues to show alternative search results based upon a temporal classification.

Bing might also change the classification from temporal to non-temporal

The way people respond to the alternative search results may result in the classification being changed:

  • Searchers do not choose results that have been added because of the temporal classification.
  • Searchers click on results that have not been added because of the temporal classification.
  • Searchers switch to another search engine after seeing the results.
  • Searchers don't click on the refinement suggestions displayed on the result page due to the temporal classification.

Bing's market share is increasing and it is a good idea to optimize your website for more search engines than just Google. The less dependent your website is from a single source of traffic, the better.

To optimize your website for Bing, use IBP's Top 10 Optimizer. The optimizer will tell you what exactly you have to do to get first page listings on Bing. Of course, it also works with Google and the local variations of Google and Bing (Google UK, Bing UK, Google Australia, etc.).

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

John MuellerDon't use the pipe symbol in URLs

Google's John Mueller recommends that you shouldn't use the pipe symbol in URLs. The pipe symbol looks like this: |

"We'll generally crawl and index any accessible and valid URL, I'm sure you'll find many URLs with 'pipe' characters in it in our index. That said, just because it's possible doesn't necessarily make it a good idea :-).

Similar to using spaces in URLs, those characters may cause issues elsewhere, so personally, I'd try to minimize the risk of problems anywhere by avoiding those kinds of URLs."

Bing-powered search share at nearly 24 percent for first month

"Google accounted for 72.15 percent of all U.S. searches conducted in the four weeks ending Oct. 2, 2010. Bing powered search received 23.64 percent of searches for the month with Yahoo! Search and Bing receiving 13.54 percent and 10.10 percent, respectively.

The remaining 65 search engines in the Hitwise Search Engine Analysis report accounted for 4.22 percent of U.S. searches."

How the Yahoo/Bing alliance affects paid search traffic

"The official switchover of Yahoo to AdCenter is slated to complete later this month but a significant portion of traffic has already started migrating from Yahoo. We've seen traffic gradually increasing since Mid-July and for several weeks now Yahoo.com traffic has made up about 10% of total Bing traffic. [...]

The combination of Bing and Yahoo Search brings a lot of flux and with it some risks but through dynamic, targeted, and fine-grained management of your accounts you can ride out the volatility."

Matt CuttsHow long does it take for rich snippets to appear? (video)

Google's Matt Cutts has answered the question "How long should it take for my RDFa markup to appear in search results as a Rich Snippet?"

It takes about one month after the submission. There shouldn't be any hidden text involved because that can cause problems.

Why Google might not index your XML sitemap

"You realize that googlebot makes multiple (we counted up to 11) GET requests in one single TCP/IP connection [... ] these multiple GET requests in the some TCP/IP connection are processed in sequence (one after the other).

If one these GET requests has a major time lag (is much slower than the other GET requests) Google cuts the TCP/IP connection. Because all the GET requests in the connection were processed in sequence, all the GET requests after the cut are lost."

Search engine newslets

  • Google testing Chrome OS release candidates. Official release 1 month away?
  • Google announces several smaller features.
  • Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz: 'creepy' Facebook is biggest rival.

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3. Success stories

Oliver Knittel"I'm happy to report that I am on Google's first page."

"I purchased the IBP software almost seven months ago and must say it's pretty amazing. I'm happy to report that I am on the first page of Google Germany for ten of my search terms. This of course has brought more traffic to my site and higher page rank. Thank you very much for your product."
Oliver Knittel, www.insure-it.de


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4. Previous articles

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