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August 10, 2010

SEO Hot Tub – 30th July 2010

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Time for the bimonthly SEO Hot Tub update.

Oh my God – It’s full of Charts!

You know it’s been a slow week in the world of search engine optimisation when the news highlight of the 2 weeks previous was the redesign of Bing Webmaster Tools (BWT). The crew at Bing has finally gotten around to revamping their tools, but is it a change for the better? SEOs stand divided, those who like pretty charts and dashboards on one side of the line, those who dig numbers and delicious exportable data on the other (yes, I’m on this side of the line).

There have been a few nice additions and some removals that will be missed. The overhaul was pretty comprehensive so let’s start with a summary of the good stuff.

Good stuff

  • The design is graphically more engaging
  • It provides granular data and more historical search query data (up to 6 month’s back data) than Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), which only goes back one month
  • The index explorer provides an nice hierarchical list of folder on the website and the ablity to check errors and request recrawls on a page by page basis and error checking based on error codes
  • Charts are quick and corresponding data populates at a pretty decent speed
  • BWT should become more useful as it becomes a larger player in the search engine market (Yahoo! using Bing results will provide a source of valuable data)

Not so good stuff

  • Users can’t export any of the data (therefore data is not very actionable)
  • Not as comprehensive as GWT, (Internal Linking, Keywords, HTML Suggestions to name a few)
  • Accuracy is questionable, as it reports lower numbers than GWT
  • The ability to check backlink numbers has been removed
  • Bing Webmaster Tools relies Silverlight to run well

The verdict? Well, most data is good data and free data is the best data, so I’ll keep my complaints to a minimum and hope they add export functionality soon.

Matt Cutts on hacked sites, sort of

We all love a Matt Cutt video, and for the most part they are pretty informative (if he doesn’t get too sidetracked). He recently spoke at  SEO conference in Belgium, at which he did get a little sidetracked, so here’s the video and a summary of the key takeaways if you don’t have 23 minutes and 44 seconds.

Key points:

  • All other things being equal, faster websites will rank higher
  • Google tries to distinguish languages on multilingual sites by subdomains or subfolders (,,,, etc.)
  • Don’t use parameters to specify language (e.g. &lang=fr, &lang=en), as they are for the most part, ineffective
  • If you suspect your site (or client’s site) has been hacked but can’t see any distinguishable signs, fetch the page as Googlebot (in Google Webmaster Tools) and compare the resulting page to the source code

The various, the sundry

A few other things did happen over the last fortnight, including but not limited to:

  • Yahoo began testing Bing listings on 25% of their search results in North America
  • Yahoo Answers improves search results by sorting by relevance, newest and most answered question
  • Microsoft began integrating contextual linking to Bing search results in Windows Live Messenger discussions
  • The Bing iPhone app got a bar code scanner
  • Google Webmaster Tools begins sending “SiteNotice” emails when a significant increase in the number of crawl errors is detected
  • Google launched an official reference guide to creating video sitemaps:
  • Google acquired a company called MetaWeb, a community operated database, possibly to improve semantic connections between related data

And, that’s a wrap.

If you want to learn more about SEO, Bruce Clay Australia presents two courses in Sydney. To find out more, head to the SEO training page.

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