At least to one website.
— Mark Barrett
After weeks spent goading and cajoling the Bing search engine to see a web page that has been published for over two years, I thought I had finally achieved my goal.
I’m not sure how a search site and it’s tech support minions can find and then lose a site after it has finally been indexed, but Bing has managed to perform that neat feat. Which means there’s really nothing left to hope for except that Microsoft will pull the plug on Bing and let it die because it’s utterly worthless for search.
— Mark Barrett
My quest to get Bing to be able to see two e-store pages on CreateSpace.com remains at an impasse. (You can see the pages here and here, and you can see Bing fail to find them here and here.) The robotic email tech-support droids at CreateSpace insist that everything is fine on their end and that the problem is with Bing. The robotic cut-and-paste email tech-support droids at Bing insist that CreateSpace has never submitted a sitemap by which they can index that site, and have repeatedly given me instructions on how I can do so even though I have repeatedly explained to them that I am not the site owner.
Now, I know there’s no joy quite like the joy of being crushed between two monolithic and ruthless companies like Amazon and Microsoft, each of which is 100% committed to pretending that it is customer friendly as a means of owning all internet traffic and content throughout the known universe. So it’s not as if I don’t appreciate how fortunate I am to still be alive at this point.
Having said that, if you’re Microsoft, and you’ve launched a search engine to compete head-to-head with the best search engine in the business — which, oddly enough, seems to have no problem finding the two e-store pages that Bing is resolutely blind to — you would think you might have a better approach to maximizing the efficiency of your search engine than adamantly insisting that people register and log into your Bing Webmaster Tools site so you don’t end up looking like an idiot.
(Have I mentioned that I’m not actually the webmaster or owner of CreateSpace.com? I keep forgetting whether I’ve mentioned that or not.)
If you’re Amazon, and you’re interested in making your CreateSpace.com site available via the smaller of the two dominant search engines in the US, it seems to me that at some point you might actually go ahead and submit your sitemap to Microsoft’s Bing search engine, even though you hate Microsoft as much as you hate Google and Apple combined. And if one of your customers wrote you multiple times to say that they couldn’t find their e-store pages via Bing search, you might actually do a proactive check on your own to figure out what the problem was, and work with Bing to resolve it instead of dumping it back in your customer’s lap.
Having put in multiple hours trying to get this problem resolved over the past week I am now giving up. A week ago I would have given CreateSpace an unqualified recommendation to anyone looking for a print-on-demand publisher. Now I’m taking a second look at other options myself, and I would encourage you to do the same. Having not used Bing at all since it launched I haven’t really had an opinion about it until now. My opinion now is that Bing seems to be incapable of doing the one thing it was designed to do.
As of 2/24, searching for my grandmother’s title on Bing now returns the correct link. My short story collection is still MIA.
As of 3/12, after several more tech support emails to and from Bing, the Bing search engine can now also reliably find the page for my short story collection. I have no idea what the problem was or what I specifically did to solve the problem. My only advice to anyone having similar problems is to be both persistent and patient.
— Mark Barrett
If you’re a self-publishing author, one of the important chores you can do to avoid having to actually write anything is to see how the two most popular search engines report back on you and your work. The dominant US search engine is of course Google, with about 66% of the search market, while Microsoft’s Bing makes up most of the remainder. (Bing powers not only the Bing.com site, which is 16% of US search, but also Yahoo.com’s search engine, which accounts for roughly 12 percent.)
If you’re not already obsessed with your personal and professional rankings on search engines and social networks, the good news is that you don’t have to become your own favorite celebrity in order to make sure people can find you. All you need is a basic understanding of how search engines work, and how people may try to find you using various words and phrases — like, say, your name or the title of something you wrote.
While it may seem as if all search engines see the internet the same way, that’s not actually the case. In order to return hits for any search you conduct, the search engine you’re using must have already visited the page you’re looking for in order to point you to it. This process of scouring the web for content is done automatically by what are called web crawlers, which follow links from one page to the next. In general web crawlers do a good job of indexing most of what’s available on the web, but depending on how often a search engine crawls a particular site there can be some lag between when a page is published (or updated) and when that page is indexed.
To get around this lag it’s possible to go to most search engines and submit pages and sites directly so search engines know where to find new content. Since this is a bit of a chore you can also use various aggregating services to submit new pages or sites to most of the popular search engines at once, albeit often for a fee. In my own experience it’s almost never necessary to submit URL’s to search engines yourself, and in no case would I pay to have this done. In a relatively short amount of time almost any new content will show up after the web crawlers make their next sweep. [ Read more ]