Google’s Panda update for SEO page rank isn’t working. The SEO update was supposed to make searches better. Sites that filled themselves with keyword rich, poor quality, SEO content were to be relegated to the end of the search results. Many of the quality sites that people like you and me visit, are targeted by the page rank system because so much of their content can be found on numerous other sites. To my way of thinking, if it wasn’t good quality, other sites wouldn’t be borrowing it. This SEO update made me start looking at Google’s competitors.

Google and Microsoft both entered the market in 1998. By 2000, Google had more than 50% of the Internet search traffic. In 2010, it was 93% globally. In early 2011, they had only 83%. Bing and Yahoo are the search engines most responsible for this shift in usage. Although clearly dominant, Google obviously has some competition.

Bing is owned by Microsoft and is working hard to get a bigger share of search traffic. In the US market, Bing gained 7% while Google lost 8% from September 2010 to March 2011. Unlike Google, Bing is not focusing on search engine optimization strategies, they are trying to make the user experience more pleasurable.

The Bing landing page has a high quality photo for the background that changes regularly. Google changes their logo on occasion. Bing presents options to refine search results on the page. Video searches bring up a grid rather than a list and hovering over one will start playing it. All of these efforts from Bing are aimed at the user experience rather than the page rank and search engine optimization strategies.

Bing is less focused on controlling page rank through keyword SEO algorithms than Google. In fact, they gained users as result of the Panda update. Search engine optimization is certainly important for website owners to consider when trying get their page rank high in any search engine, but with Bing, the keyword density is not as critical because the search engine is more focused on the meaning of words to determine relevancy. In Bing, quality content really is important to a site’s page rank.

Bing and Yahoo are putting their collective expertise together and have formed a search alliance to take on Google. They are the next two biggest players in the global search market and by working together they hope to take bigger pieces of market share away from Google more quickly.

I, for one, hope they are right. The stranglehold Google has over search engine optimization techniques is a direct result of their dominance in the search field. Web sites focus on their page rank and SEO statistics more than their content. Google can, and has, relegated a site’s page rank off the results page despite excellent SEO content for perceived search engine optimization infractions. The German BMW site in 2006 is the example I remember best. had a page rank of 0 for several days after Google discovered they had a hidden page filled with keywords only the indexing bots could see. If Bing and Yahoo can get the focus back on providing web sites people want, maybe search engine optimization techniques will shift as well.