A few words with Duane Forrester of Bing during NamesCon

I shall be referring to Duane Forrester, manager of Bing’s webmaster tools, as a young Steve Ballmer – and that’s a compliment.

Not just because I’m a long term fan of corporate giant Microsoft, but because he’s as energetic on stage as the outgoing Microsoft CEO.

He’s also funnier, and unlike Ballmer, Duane has a full head of hair.

Duane Forrester was the closing session’s keynote speaker at NamesCon, a domain conference that offered a full spectrum of content, education and substance to those who participated.

Bing is a bit of a strange beast in the search engine wild that’s dominated by the 800 lbs gorilla, Google. It has a better search interface, an efficient set of rules and it’s technologically superior to Google.

And yet, people flock to Google – most of the time.

I had the chance to speak with Duane Forrester after the session ended and the room almost emptied.

Being cheeky, I tried to shock him at first, referencing the NSA involvement in data privacy, and seeking answers related to the Microsoft stance on the matter.

Duane ended my journalistic and personal curiosity on the subject, by stating he’d jeopardize his current employment status if he gave out any confidential information.

A laugh or two later, he assured me that Microsoft and Bing are working as of now, along with other large companies, to not only undo the damage done by the consistent government snooping, but also ensure that something as big as losing people’s private searches to a government shadow operation, won’t continue in the near future.

As of today, there is already some progress on the subject, as president Obama stated; and that’s a great start.

My next question was about Google versus Bing: if the Microsoft product is so far superior, then why do people use Google?

Duane Forrester’s answer acknowledged that user habits are hard to change or die, and the advantage Google has, is its established footprint across the general and hyperlocal search.

Bing may be not growing at similar rates, however, the direction they are taking with regards to how the Internet name space expands, will be placing them at a better position as a search engine of choice.

Regarding domain rankings, Duane confirmed that just because you own a generic or a keyword-rich domain of any TLD, that won’t necessarily mean that you will rank high in their results. In fact, you may rank just for the exact domain with the TLD included – unless your content is relevant to what you are promoting.

The beauty of this argument, which is also shared by Google, is that gTLDs will enhance and promote brands and identity, through a renaissance of content production.

Bing will be treating all gTLDs as equals to their grandfathers – the original set of top level domains – and the deciding factor in ranking will be content relevancy.

This is exciting news for developers, brand strategists and creative people that generate the content that exists on web sites.

It will definitely change the direction that many have been following for far too long, that of zero development and high expectations for the ranking of ‘blank’ domain names.

It was an educating exchange, and yet another example of the great opportunities available at NamesCon, for ‘brain picking’ the minds of important Internet technologists.

Thank you, Duane, for the stimulating conversation – and for sharing the bird nest/cellphone story.


  1. Bing is not better than Google with search…and that’s a fact.

  2. Poor Uncle: Have you compared Bing and Google results side by side? I encourage you to do that. Let me know what you observe.

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