Something unexpected happened on the Monday before Black Friday. On November 21, sometime between 1pm and 2pm CST, Bing wiped out all but one Black Friday and Cyber Monday website from its index, including our sister sites, BlackFriday2011.com and CyberMonday2011.com.
The feedback we eventually received from Bing strongly implied that the sites were of little value to searchers, a sentiment echoed in Bing's statements to Search Engine Land in an article discussing the motives and implications of the Black Friday removals. Some competitors also confirmed to Marketing Land that they were dropped as well.
BlackFriday2011.com has more than 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 search results 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 10 million site visitors and social media followers. There were also contests, professionally produced video and infographics, reader polls, and even an iPhone app. We are more than just ads.
In our opinion, we were very successful at 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 BlackFriday2011.com 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 Editor-in-Chief Brad Wilson, 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 in holiday articles.
Additionally, BlackFriday2011.com powers Yahoo! Black Friday every year for Yahoo! Shopping, which remains highly ranked despite using our URL. (Yahoo! search results are powered by Bing through a close partnership between Yahoo! and Microsoft.)
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 search results to be utterly baffling. We understand that Bing wants to make the results relevant for their users and, as searchers ourselves, we can certainly appreciate that. While we appreciate Bing’s efforts in attempting to bring only the most quality results to their users, however, we are left wondering: What more could we have done to be a quality resource for Bing.com visitors?
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.
Regardless of what Bing thinks, we don't have to guess that our fans appreciated BlackFriday2011.com. We have plenty of data that proves that they did, and which we feel debunks Bing's claims about quality, and for that we must thank you. That data came from you reading our blogs, talking with us on Facebook and Twitter, sharing the ads with your friends, and all of the other great stuff that people do on websites. A massive thank you goes out to all of our incredible fans who stuck with us on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the days between and since. Your support means the world to us. Even without Bing, the shopping days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday were a huge success because of you.
We'll continue bringing you the best deals now and throughout 2012, and we'll rock it out again next year. We've started plans for making Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2012 even bigger and better, and we're already excited. We hope you'll join us for Black Friday 2012!