Holiday Deals Sites Confirm: Bing Dropped Them Just Before Black Friday & Cyber Monday

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It was nothing new, Bing said, about dropping sites for being too “thin” on content. But it was new to many Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal sites that found themselves banned just before those busy shopping days.

Since we first reported on the sites going missing at our sister-site Search Engine Land, several merchants have confirmed that after periods of ranking well, Bing decided they should be banned.

Killed On Thanksgiving Day

From Thanksgiving Black Friday Ads, came these charts:

The top chart shows traffic that was going to the site from Google unpaid “organic” searches on November 24, 2011 — Thanksgiving Day — the day before Black Friday. The other two charts show the same type of traffic from Bing and Yahoo, which gets its results from Bing.

Between 5pm and 6pm Eastern Time, a change was made to ban the site entirely, and the traffic dropped off to nothing.

Killed Despite 300,000 Facebook Likes

Rebecca Lehmann of BradsDeals commented that her company’s BlackFriday2011.com and CyberMonday2011.com sites both were banned on Monday, November 21:

It happened between 1-2pm on Monday 11/21 – basically Bing hit us precisely when it would hurt us the most. Both of our BF and CM sites were dropped at exactly the same time, so I’m assuming that our competitors were hit at that time as well.

Another commenter noted that the BradDeals Black Friday site has over 300,000 Facebook fans. This means the site was penalized despite Bing’s tight integration with Facebook, to use Facebook Likes to help improve Bing’s search results.

From my testing, even though I liked the BradDeals Black Friday site, I still couldn’t find it in Bing, because it had been banned outright. But other things that had been liked by people I know were personalized with Facebook information:

These three sites all came up at Bing for me in a search for black friday 2011. You can see how below their URLs, each of them are being being personalized with Facebook information for me.

And Killed Despite Being A Yahoo Partner

BlackFriday2011.com is especially noteworthy in being dropped because it provides some of the content to the Yahoo Deals site. BlackFriday2011.com was too thin for Bing, but the same content on pages from Bing’s partner Yahoo were deemed thick enough to stay.

BradsDeals sent us this statement on the matter:

BlackFriday2011.com has over 330,000 Facebook fans, regular links from media like USA Today and The New York Times and an annual partnership with Yahoo! to power Yahoo! Black Friday. It appears that people like and trust us but Bing does not, which decided a few days before Black Friday not just to lower our ranking but to remove us from their index altogether.

The team at BlackFriday2011.com worked very hard every day during Black Friday season to bring the latest Black Friday news, ads and analysis to over 10M site visitors and social media following. There were also contests, infographics, reader polls, and even an iPhone app, we are more than just ads.

In our opinion, we thought we were successful at achieving being relevant and helpful to users, as visitors coming to us from Bing organic search spent more than 7 minutes on-site and visited more than 5 pages on average, with 40% of those visitors returning to the site later. Objectively, we believe that we delivered a useful resource that Black Friday fans embraced. There is nothing in those numbers to indicate that our content was anything less than those visitors expected. In fact, Bing visitors turned out to be more engaged by the site than visitors from any other traffic source.

Likewise, the media also trusts and links to our Black Friday content. Members of our editorial staff, including myself, appear often in the media to offer Black Friday expertise, on programs such as The Today Show and Good Morning America. Major news publishers ranging from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to USA Today regularly link to BlackFriday2011.com.

Additionally, BlackFriday2011.com powers Yahoo! Black Friday every year for Yahoo! Shopping, which remains ranked despite using our URL.

Between our media endorsements, strategic partnerships and the very clear signals sent by our fans, we find Bing’s decision to remove BlackFriday2011.com from its index to be utterly baffling, we understand Bing wanting to make the results relevant for their users and appreciate that, as searchers ourselves. We appreciate Bing’s efforts in attempting to bring only the most quality results to their users, but we are left wondering, what more could we have done to be a quality resource for Bing.com visitors? What signals could we have sent to Bing to show them that we are indeed useful and worthy of being in the index?

We believe that when a searcher looks for “Black Friday Ads”, the search intent is clear. They’re looking for Black Friday ads. Removing leading Black Friday sites that deliver this highly relevant content, therefore, is not in the searcher’s best interest.

Creating Cyber Monday No Protection From Being Dropped

The most noteworthy of all the banned sites, to me, remains CyberMonday.com. The site is run by Shop.org, an industry group that coined the term Cyber Monday in November 2005. It was dropped just before the big shopping day it helped start.

After our original story ran on Search Engine Land, David Andre, chairman of Cartera Commerce, which runs the CyberMonday.com site on behalf of Shop.org, sent these comments:

It’s one thing to remove www.cybermonday.com from search results for “cyber monday”. It’s another thing to remove it for searches for “cybermonday.com”, which are extremely popular searches as the site is promoted heavily in the media by Shop.org and the National Retail Federation.

In fact, Bing’s search auto-completion recommends cybermonday.com as a popular search, but then if you select that recommendation refuses to list cybermonday.com as a result, instead listing Bing Shopping.

The site was dropped over the weekend right before Cyber Monday, and replaced with a LARGE promotion for Bing Shopping. Prior to Cyber Monday (and for the last 5 years), CyberMonday.com was the #1 result on Google, Yahoo, Ask, and MSN/Bing for searches such as “cyber monday”. We have screen images of Bing searches from Monday November 28, which show much larger promotions for Bing Shopping than the images you have.

Somewhat surprisingly, search engine referrals from Bing/Yahoo to www.cybermonday.com had been exceeding those from Google in the days running up to being dropped.  So this is not a small deal for the National Retail Federation.

I’m all for allowing search engines latitude in ranking search results in a way that maximizes user experience. However, completely removing a listing, refusing to show results for a popular search even when the domain is entered directly, and instead showing brand-new competitive Bing Shopping content, is a misappropriation of the goodwill of the Cyber Monday and CyberMonday.com brands that Shop.org worked so hard to create.

Andre stressed that his comments were his personal opinion, not of Cartera or Shop.org. I’m still waiting for an official statement from Shop.org, which told me this week that it was following up on the matter.

Its CyberMonday.com site remains, like the others above, banned in Bing.

Related Articles

Postscript: See our follow-up story, Banned Holiday Deal Sites Return To Bing.

About The Author

Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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