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Bing: Trust and Authority Usually Sees Higher Rankings

     
5:27 pm on Oct 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Microsoft's Senior Product Manager at Bing, Duane Forrester, just published a piece about authority and trust. It's a useful reminder for all of us as we try and build our reputations and incrase our ranking in any search engine.

Being an authority is something search engines look for. Yes, you still have to pass a number of trust hurdles, but the bottom line remains: more authority and more trust usually sees higher rankings. Thus exposure, traffic and gold coins follow! OK, maybe not so much on the gold coins. There are a lot of unshareable details that go into the behind the scenes work the algorithm does, obviously, but simplified its pretty clear. People trust authorities. Authorities are easier for engines to trust when ranking. Therefore being an authority is a good idea.Bing: Trust and Authority Usually Sees Higher Rankings [blogs.bing.com]
3:44 pm on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'll say there's not much there that's actionable, but it's a useful reference. Some time ago someone posted on WebmasterWorld saying he couldn't understand why his authority site had lost rankings. When we looked into it, it was exactly the type of site that was, and should have been, targeted by Penguin and Panda. In other words, nobody but the poster would argue that it should have been an authority site - we're not talking a false positive or collateral damage here.

Anyway, knowing the incredible work it took to become a recognized international authority in a not-at-all competitive and very obscure corner of academic historical studies, I can only say that these are the words people really need to understand from Duane's article:


By far, though, the biggest issue around authority building is that people vastly underestimate the amount of time and work it takes. Were not talking about getting an article published. Were talking getting dozens published. Were not talking about getting mentions on blogs, or a scattering of interviews, were talking winning peer-chosen awards and being a go-to resource reporters turn to for their stories.


The one great thing about become an authority is it takes a buttload of work, which means that in most fields the competition is limited. You'll never compete with the get-rich-quick crowd.
3:58 pm on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for picking up on that. Yes, it does take work, and that's where, most often, the larger businesses have the advantage. They have the resources that a one-man-band can never have. However, the one-man-band is unlikely to be competing with the Rolling Stones.
4:56 pm on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In other words links to reference material other people my use, or articles that might be of a similar interest.

I wonder can a one man band relay not be a factor? IMO depends on the one man band. I have few one man bands that kick butt in their specialized area in Bing as well as Google beating out the major money brands in many a good search.

Took them years but this is how it should be.
8:46 pm on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think the one-man band has to go after the long tail, but still can... just that tail gets longer every year.
10:01 am on Oct 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think Duane's message is more about being genuine and honest, thus building authority because what you offer is unique (as every human being is).

To that I have to add that most of my unique content ranks well on Bing, even #1 sometimes.
6:20 pm on Oct 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi n0tSEO... Unique is important, but I think it's more than being unique, genuine and honest.

In fact, I think that is precisely Duane's point - You MUST be unique, genuine and honest, but that is not enough. I can be unique, genuine and honest, but never be close to being an authority.

Becoming an authority and gaining true trust takes real work. Years of work.

So you have to unique, honest, genuine AND an authority and that last one is really hard.
6:36 pm on Oct 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Well, being an Authority (the capital A is intentional) is something only a few can achieve, not everybody.

But that would mean that Bing, like Google, looks forward to become an elitist sort of search engine. Picky to say the least.
4:20 am on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think it depends on how competitive the search is. If you're looking to rank for the short tail, then you absolutely have to be an Authority. For those of us who aren't, we need to move ever farther out the tail.

In general, search traffic is rising, so you can still move out the tail and rank, but it gets harder and harder in saturated markets.

Anyway, my point is simply that being genuine and honest is not going to get you there with a camera review site anymore. The front page is dominated with big players who have built up their authority over a decade. To squeeze in you have to have a narrow, unique and generally very long tail angle, then you have to work it for years to establish your own authority.
6:11 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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i don't understand this at all. If Google and Bing think authority is so important, then why do they give high rankings to sites like wikipedia and ehow. How could anyone think that wikipedia is an "authority" when anybody can edit it, and it is permeated with bias and mis-information?

Google had a scheme to identify expertise and authority by enticing people to put an invented "author tag" in their articles. It attracted far more spammers than real experts and ended up as a fiasco.

Even "recognized authorities" have sometimes turned out to be wrong about some theory that they devoted their whole career to. And many of the greatest breakthroughs have been made by people who were previously unknown.

Yes it would be good to be able to identify true authorities and give higher rankings to their work, but I've seen no evidence that either Google or Bing is close to achieving that.
1:34 am on Oct 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Wikipedia has some strange aspects - like refusing to recognize Philip Roth as an expert on Philip Roth. That's nuts.

[newyorker.com...]

And yes, it's not a peer-reviewed publication, but very few peer-reviewed publications show up in search because few of them are free.

That said, in fields where I am a recognized expert in the scholarly world, I find Wikipedia to be pretty darned good. I devoted 20 years of my life to studying a particular para-judicial body and went to Wikipedia expecting it to be full of the types of errors I typically find in accounts written by amateur historians. It wasn't.

When Neil Degrasse Tyson came out with his new Cosmos, there was a section that was tangential to my expertise, but in an area where a fellow scholar is a recognized expert. I asked him to check out the Wikipedia article on the topic and he found it to be excellent and fifty times better than the crap that Cosmos broadcast.
6:13 pm on Oct 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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ergophobe
I think you're probably right about wikipedia being an accurate source of information for non-controversial subjects where nobody is pushing an aganda. But there are some areas, such as politics and social issues, where in my opinion wikipedia definitely can't be trusted. for example, there have actually been cases in which politicians were caught repeatedly editing their own biographical pages to remove embarassing facts. There have also been several cases in which senior wikipedia editors secretly accepted payments to "guard" certain pages against unwanted edits. In addition, there are many pages in wikipedia, especially those relating to social issues, that have acquired self-appointed "guards" who will quickly delete or revert any edit they don't like. Usually these guards are far more determined to control a page than casual passersby who try to correct something but give up after one or two failed attempts.
3:44 am on Oct 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yes, it occurred to me as I was writing that that I am generally looking to wikipedia for less controversial subjects and, perhaps more importantly, subjects that have little money (or votes as you point out) on the table.

But I think my point was just to say that in many ways Wikipedia deserves to be an authority, while as you point out, there are certainly areas where it doesn't.

The problem is that people have to recognize still how rudimentary Google is and, in my opinion, Bing is even more rudimentary in most respects. Yes, Google is hugely better than it was in 2008 when SERPS on all imaginable subjects were a cesspool of spam, but it is still lightyears away from the Star Trek computer. The Google algo doesn't understand the content, it just uses an array of proxy measures to attempt to measure authority and trust.

I think in general that has improved search results in both Google and Bing, but they remain just crude proxy measures with many areas where the results are simply bad.
3:47 am on Oct 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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[excuse the borderline illiteracy of the previous post... I'm too tired to sound coherent... time for bed]