Bing Releases the Three Pillars of Content Quality

Bing Releases the Three Pillars of Content Quality

by Rob May / Wednesday, 17 December 2014 / Published in Content marketing, SEO & Organic Search

Bing’s senior program manager, Michael Basilyan published a post to give insight as to how Bing algorithms address quality content when ranking web pages and documents inside their index.

There are thousands of web documents that could be relevant for any one search query, so Bing needed to develop highly structured algorithms to return the best and most authoritative results for users.

This post on Bings’ Content Quality Analysis is detailed enough to help you address your content quality within Bing’s search index. Questions that will be addressed include, “how they define it? how they measure it, and how it impacts their ranking results.

The Primary Ranking Factor – Is Content Quality!

Now, as Bing describes their approach, you can clearly see they are looking to analyze pillars to assess Content Quality for ranking positions. Bing takes all these into account and consideration when returning results for user query’s.

These three pillars are:


How do these three pillars break down?

Authority –

They are trying to answer the question – “Can we trust this content, it’s author or the website.” In order to answers those questions – Bing refers back to their anchor graph and the signal factors that help determine the quality and authority of a page. What might that look like on Bing’s behalf? Social signals from social networks, cited sources, inbound links, brand recognition and author identity.

It should be noted that ‘authority’ is treated by Bing differently in every query segment. So, for example, a paper on “kinetic energy”, would be analyzed and perform better if written by an authority in the field of physics, or a paper in the medical field, would perform better when analyzed if written by a certified medical professional. You get the picture J

Utility –

This is the next segment that Bing will try to answer. What exactly does this mean and what are they trying to answer? Bing’s models “try to predict whether the content is sufficient useful for the topic it is trying to address.” Did it address the query with a adequate level of depth that was strong enough for the reader? With this, they emphasize that they clearly prefer to have content that references material to strengthen the core element of the page (instructional video cues, graphics and images, graphs, etc)

Another predictive algorithm Bing uses in Utility criteria evaluation, is understanding if the content was written by and published by an authority. They also analyze sites that develop new content, rather than recycling old or existing data/content from around the web. So, to understand this example better – think about a real estate website. All these serve listings from general MLS style systems, that are more or less all equal in relation to the content they serve. But, if the site was to set itself apart by spending time developing content around the surrounding area (school information, zoning guidelines, HOA restrictions for residential areas, transportation options, lifestyle information, shopping networks close by, etc), they would distinguish themselves as having ‘value added’ content that would separate them from their competition!

Presentation –

What does this mean in Bing’s eyes? Build your pages with three things in mind. Develop easy to read content, clearly present that information to the user and make it easy to find (not hidden below a barrage of ads and banners, promotions, headers, etc), and have a good clean user interface/design that helps navigate the page easily. Make it dummy proof!

Use smart decisions when faced with having to present advertising and promotional ads to users. Don’t have this hinder the aspect of the quality content you have developed. Don’t make it difficult to find the information you have taken the time to develop and provide, and do not waste the users time searching for it. This clearly presents a problem to Bing in their analysis and they are looking to calculate factors like this when evaluating a web pages quality content.

Basilyan goes onto say that “Pages with well-designed layouts will be preferred to pages that hide content behind ads, fail to clearly delineate ads from the main content, or feature ads that are easily confused with navigational elements.”

Looking at a few examples:

Do you see the quality content issues raised above in the post? See if you can spot them (tip – they are highlighted for your visual needs!) Do you see where the quality content issues are? Would you like to see a page like this ranked in the top results? You would have to sift and scroll through the page to find exactly what you were looking for. It also doesn’t present the user with a great user experience based on this page’s sample.


If you look at it closely, this fails the ‘authority’ analysis as well, as it was written by ‘admin’. This doesn’t tell Bing about the author’s credentials, or state a level of authority when analyzing pages. Navigating around the page also doesn’t source the content or authorship of what was presented. The page also fairs poorly.

Here is another example of a site not following Bing’s three pillars of content quality.

Navigating around the page yields high amounts of ‘paid advertising’, promoting more the elements of the advert, rather than the actual content developed to help answer the users search query. The advertisements are also placed above the fold, pushing the value of the content off the first page of view.


The page’s content performs poorly when analyzed against the authority and author factors. To add to this disaster, the ads are “not delineated from the main content and are easily confused with navigational elements.” To add to this even more, the content seems poorly written, and has no supporting media to extend the value to the user.

Overall, both these examples provide poor user experiences; poor content, poor authorship and trust metrics to be considered to ‘rank’ in the top results. So, in a nutshell, this page delivers less than average “content quality” and thus, would be pushed down in the rankings. Bing’s algorithms are now tailored at looking at more developed signals that asses design, content, trust, user interaction, and authoritative signals.

Bing’s Equation for Understanding Quality Content

This is described as follows and attributes itself to the relevance of the resulting function.


Now, what does this really mean and how is it broken down? Here’s a little breakdown for you on each segment mentioned in the above formula.

  • Does this address the overall query? Topical Relevance –
  • Based on the three pillars, does this address content quality?
  • Was the query made about a recent topic? Where is the user located? These questions help address the context of the users query

Bing spends a lot of time working to improve the relevance of the search engines ranking performance and uses the “three axes when determining tradeoffs.”

The Takeaway –

The three pillars of content quality as referred to by Bing search, are “central to the user experience” as well as how your site, pages, and content will be evaluated. Make sure to take an honest  look at your site’s design and page interface and clear up any of the existing problems you might be encountering from the points mentioned in this post. Bing has clearly given us the ‘secret sauce’ to developing out quality content and pages that will rank and perform well based on user data.

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Rob May, Ludis Media

Rob May

Over 15 years experience and a passion for SEO, Web and Inbound Marketing. Started in web development back in 1999-2000 during university at Bishops, but made a major shift towards web marketing and haven't looked back since. I have been involved with successful start ups over the past 10 years and have joined Ludis Media to build with another team. Always looking forward and love technology!

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