There’s no denying that Google is top dog when it comes to search engines, but a little engine called Bing isn’t so far behind.
Which means if Bing SEO isn’t part of your strategy, you’re missing out on some serious search market share.
In this article, I’ll break down why it is important, as well as go over the key differences between Google and Bing.
What You’ll Learn:
- Why Bing SEO is important
- How it differs from Google:
When you think of SEO, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Google and its coveted ranking. It might surprise you to learn that Bing is also important for online marketing and can help boost your sales. In order to have a solid SEO strategy, you’ll need to take both into account.
If the thought of learning how to optimize your search results ranking on a whole new platform seems like it’s not worth your time, it is.
Bing and Yahoo combined now dominate approximately 30% of the market share for search, and they are expected to continue their climb to the top. This means that Bing is grabbing more attention and can help your business reach entirely new audiences. And because Bing owns Google, optimizing for it means you’ll simultaneously optimize for Yahoo.
Fortunately, you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel to optimize for Bing, but there are some factors and potential changes you need to consider.
While there are some similarities between Bing and Google, there are also some significant differences that should be considered when optimizing your website.
Why Bother with Bing SEO?
In addition to Bing’s growing market share, there are a number of reasons that optimizing your site for this search engine is a good idea.
To start, since so many websites focus on optimizing only for Google, you can help put yourself ahead of your competition by positioning your business in front of the 30% of searchers using Bing.
That’s a lot of eyes and a lot of potential customers that your competitors may be ignoring.
There are also some differences in the demographics of people who search using Bing and Yahoo compared to those who most often use Google.
Depending on your target audience, you may want to consider the parts of the country (Great Plains, Rust Belt, Southern States) or the types of households (politically conservative) that are more likely to use Bing over Google.
How Is Bing SEO Different than Google SEO?
Alright, let’s get down to the differences that you came here for. To begin, take a look at the key ranking factors found to be most important by a recent SearchMetrics analysis.
- Top brands tend to have a higher Bing ranking, just as they do on Google.
- Social signals correlate very closely with higher rankings.
- User engagement is a big factor.
- Backlink numbers are closely linked to higher rankings as well (though they carry less weight on Bing than Google).
- Page Authority is important.
- Relevant and quality content are important for search rankings.
- On-page technical factors also play an important role.
Brand Preferences and Website Type
First up in this guide is what types of websites the platform favors. Knowing this key piece of information can help you learn how to rank.
Similar to Google, Bing seems to give ranking preference to brands and doesn’t necessarily apply the same criteria as it does to other domains.
Both search engines consider it natural for larger brands to have more backlinks with the name of the brand in the link text alone(“brand links”). Therefore, they may not rate them negatively as they might with others.
That said, Bing may also have some difficulty distinguishing brands from related competitors.
It also tends to favor older websites with more official domain names, such as .gov or .edu, more than newer, commercial or popular websites that are typically favored by Google.
Bing SEO: User Engagement
User engagement should be a primary focus of any marketing strategy, period.
But when optimizing for Bing specifically, it’s important to know that engagement is a pretty critical factor for the search engine.
Engagement is often measured by the bounce rate. So, if you have a lot of visitors coming to your site but quickly clicking the “back” button, that signals low user engagement to Bing. In Bing speak, this is referred to as “pogo-sticking.”
On the flip side, if those floods of visitors are sticking around, that reads as a major win for Bing. Your reward for higher engagement will be a higher rank in Bing.
For marketers, this means keeping a close eye on the analytics and putting tactics in place designed to keep readers on the page.
For more on bounce rate and how to improve your user’s experience, check out my full article here.
Click-through rates (CTRs) are also big with Bing.
The more people you can get on your page, the better.
That means being strategic with your headlines and meta descriptions. They should be interesting enough to gain a click and appeal directly to the problem or question the piece of content addresses.
Bing SEO: Social Signals
When looking closely at Bing SEO vs Google, you’ll notice that Bing has a unique social feature that its main opponent doesn’t have.
Perhaps because it’s the new search engine, Bing tends to put more emphasis on social media signals than Google, including even Google+ ironically.
Well-positioned results tend to have a higher number of shares, likes, tweets, and +1s. Specific URLs stand out in top results that have a high mass of social signals.
When a user searches on Bing, they can immediately see if a Facebook friend or Twitter follower has recommended or rated the company or product mentioned in the search.
They can even find related Pinterest boards when searching for specific images.
Google hasn’t yet been able to integrate social media into their search results like Bing has.
Facebook has a new Recommendation feature that allows users to ask their friends for local recommendations in a simple status.
If a user’s Facebook friends have previously recommended your company, service, or product on the social media platform, the Bing search results will reflect that. Ultimately, this is like a new way to spread word-of-mouth through online search methods.
As a useful SEO tool, these social media recommendations act somewhat as reviews and boast your Bing ranking. This is a key Bing ranking factor that is exclusive to Bing. Google hasn’t been able to latch onto this feature just yet.
Bing SEO: Backlinks
While Bing tends to put less emphasis on backlinks then Google, backlinks are still important to Bing SEO ranking.
Sites with more backlinks seem to rank higher with Bing, just as they do with Google. However, the quality of those backlinks is increasingly more important than the quantity.
Bing even offers a helpful link explorer tool to better understand the value of the links on any given page.
With that said, Bing is still a few steps behind Google with regard to how elaborately they evaluate these link features.
Instead of seeking to index every piece of content available on a domain, as Google does, Bing actively removes pages from their index if they are found to not have enough link authority or value to rank on their search results.
What this usually means is that in order for a page to maintain a place in Bing’s index, it must have at least one external website link to it. This critical Bing ranking factor can hurt your company’s ranking if ignored.
Another big difference between Bing and Google SEO is page authority. While it’s important across the board, Bing tends to put more emphasis on Page Authority than Google.
Content and Location
Relevant and quality content correlate strongly with good Bing SEO ranking, just as it does with Google.
Like Google, you’ll want to focus on longform pieces (1,500+) words, and include 5-7 related keywords in the content.
Bing also seems to be more likely to reward pictures, videos, and audio due to what is known as “entity understanding”, while Google relies much more on text-based content.
Bing is also better equipped to interpret sites that use flash, which is all but invisible to Google.
This means that having a more dynamic website that incorporates high-quality content with original media may help to better position your site for high rankings on both search engines.
When it comes to local searches, Bing also tends to showcase small businesses, assuming the searcher wants the most proximal results.
Whereas, Google tends to sway in favor of larger, more established companies, giving preference to what it sees as the most credible results.
Bing SEO: Technical Factors
As you might expect, on-page technical factors and behind-the-scenes structure for a website play an important role in higher Bing ranking, just as they do with Google. However, SEO Bing vs Google in this instance is vastly different.
Everything from the site speed of a URL to the position of keywords in the title can be factored into the ranking of a site.
Bing has a strong correlation with homepages outranking internal pages in results to a lesser degree than Google.
And while Google has evolved to be much more intuitive when it comes to the context of a page, Bing is still much more straightforward, relying upon keywords in page titles, meta tags, and specific keywords. This can make optimizing your website a bit easier than Google.
In the early days of Google, Googlebot only crawled the first 100k of a given page, though as the crawler has matured, page size is less of an issue.
Bing, on the other hand, still only caches roughly the first 100k of web pages, which means that it is critical to place the most important elements of your content within that first 100k or it won’t help boost your results.
As your website grows, it can become increasingly difficult to ensure that webpages are not duplicated.
If two pages are duplicated or are too similar to be differentiated by the search engine, you will need to program a Canonical URL. This means that you will choose which page gets all the attention on search engines.
Google is good at determining a site’s Canonical URL even if it is not coded properly to return the Canonical URL. Bing didn’t in the past, but now it does support the Canonical tag. However, they still have some issues with it.
While you can sometimes use redirects to display the Canonical URL, this move can sometimes end up breaking your links. This can devastate your outcomes.
While Google prefers a 301 (permanent URL) redirect, a 302 (temporary redirect) will not usually cause any major issues with indexing.
Bing, on the other hand, will interpret a 302 as a 301, after they crawl it a few times.
For that reason, most people use 301.
Bing and Google also handle Meta Refreshes differently, a factor that should be taken under consideration.
Meta Refresh is when a web browser is instructed to automatically refresh a webpage after a specific amount of time.
It is also possible to program the browser to display a different URL after the webpage has refreshed.
Google will follow a zero second Meta Refresh and treat it like a 301, while Bing will not.
Meta Refresh will actually terminate the Bing crawler from accessing any more of the website. Bing is working on this, and it may be changing soon. As for now, however, it may hurt your Bing ranking.
Another issue with the Meta Refresh function is that is can impair the browser’s “back” button, which may be annoying to some users.
While there are many similarities in the ranking factors considered by Bing and Google, it’s clear that there are enough differences in SEO tools and tactics to warrant making necessary adjustments to ensure that your site ranks well on both.
Not only will you potentially reach a wider audience and beat your competitors to the punch, you’ll also rank well on both Yahoo and Bing. Don’t forget that Bing powers Yahoo search.
And while taking all of these technical components and Bing ranking factors for the different search engines into account is important, remember to be sure that, first and foremost, you optimize your site for the visitor.
Having a great, user-friendly website that people will use and return to is what will make all of the other Bing SEO work worthwhile.
What has your experience been? Have you noticed differences in your ranking on Bing versus Google? Let us know in the comment section below!