Third only to Google and Youtube, Bing's algorithm accounts for approximately 20% of searches done online. Yet, 95% of people I talk to, SEO experts and business completely ignore Bing or don't care about their rankings in the search engine.
Why is this? While not the dominant player, Bing is a search engine that can bring significant traffic to your site.
In this guide, you'll learn both how and why you should be optimising your website for SEO. HINT: It's a lot easier than Google.
Here's what you're about to learn:
Let's get started!
Bing is a owned by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), most known for its Windows platform, Xbox gaming consoles, Windows mobile devices and operating the search engine Bing. As of January 2016, Bing desktop searches account for 15.8%, compared to Google (65.44%) and Yahoo! (8.28%).
Bing mobile searches account for 1.43% of searches, compared to Google's 94.13% and Yahoo!'s 3.61%.
In July 2009, Bing announced that in addition to its own searches, it would also exclusively provide algorithmic and paid searches to the search engine Yahoo!
In July 2015, it was announced that Bing will only provide "the majority" of Yahoo! search engine results.
As of August 2014, 29.4% of searches are "powered by Bing" account for 29.4% of searches according to this report.
Bing Market Share August 2014. Source: com score.com.
As of January 2016, Bing's algorithm determines the results of 24.1% of desktop searches.According to Microsoft's Annual Report 2015, Bing itself (excluding its partnership with Yahoo!) "exceeded 20% of US market share" in the 2015 financial year.
From February 2014 to February 2016, Bing's desktop searches increased from 12% to 24.1%. In the same period, Google's market share decreased from 71.81% to 65.44%.
While Microsoft is competing against Google on a number of fronts, it reports:
In short: Because it's worth it. In addition to powering the majority of Yahoo searches, Bing searches account for approximately 20% of online searches.
While I wouldn't recommend optimising purely for Bing, there are tons of small tweaks that can be made that will enhance both your Bing & Google website authority and search engine rankings.
A recent chart posted by business2community.com visualizes this data for us nicely:
Now ask yourself: in what other scenario would you be happy to let 30% of a market walk?
If I told you that you could get 30% more visitors to your highstreet store by changing your shop name, you would change it in a heartbeat! (The specific market share fluctuates but the most recent, exact data puts it at about 21% according to SEO Chat.)
30% of potential visitors means 30% of potential customers and 30% of potential profit! “30% of potential visitors means 30% of potential customers and 30% of potential profit!” Instead of earning $50k a year from your website, you could be earning $65K a year. That’s a massive different (and a free holiday!).
... And there are plenty more reasons to wake up to the reality of Bing as well.
For starters, Bing is integrated with Windows 10. Windows 10 is the latest iteration of Windows from Microsoft and it comes with Bing deeply ingrained into the system. Not only is Bing the default search engine for the default ‘Edge Browser’ (which comes with some neat tricks up its sleeves) but it’s also the search engine used by Cortana.
Cortana is a digital assistant like Siri that now lives on your desktop. If you want to find out the weather for instance, you can simply ask Cortana while you’re typing and she’ll pull results from Bing and tell you. This means that even if someone should set Google as their default search engine, they’re still likely to be using Bing on their desktop without realizing it!
And the same is true if they own an Xbox One. We don’t have the exact sales figures for Xbox One right now (Microsoft are remaining tight lipped about them) but we do know that they’re in excess of 18 million around the world.
Xbox One comes with a lot of home-entertainment functions including a browser that you can use while playing games or chatting on Skype. And guess what search engine the Xbox One browser uses?
And anything could happen in the next few years to upset the apple cart and lead to Google losing market share. For example, Apple have repeatedly threatened to ditch Google as the default browser on iPhone and this could very easily lead to a seismic shift for the search landscape. Then again it might never happen.
But the question is: can you afford to take that risk? Are you happy knowing that all your eggs are in Google’s basket? “Are you happy knowing that all your eggs are in Google’s basket?”
And one last thing to consider is that Bing offers a lot of opportunity for the savvy SEO/webmaster.
Why is that? Simply because Bing is lesser known and there are fewer people trying to rank there. A lot of people never consider Bing SEO and they don’t know what the key to succeeding there is.
That means that the 30% of traffic to be found there is ripe for the taking. It means you can do a little background research and then just swoop right in to get to the top of the SERPs. And what you also have to understand is that this can then lead to more knock-on effects for your Google Ranking.
Think about it: if you get to the top of Bing, then that leads to a lot of exposure to 30% of the web. This in turn means that you end up landing more backlinks and getting discussed in more forums and more comments sections.
And THAT then helps your SEO on Google as well! This can almost be thought of like a sneaky back door in the world of internet marketing!
Oh and on one little side note? Bing is much better looking than Google. Those daily features images really give Bing a relaxing and modern feeling and the animated ones in particular can actually be reason enough in some cases to head on over to the site.
It’s worth showing Microsoft some love for that…
But a nice, big picture and smaller market share are not all that set Bing apart from Google. While you might be learning about Bing for the first time, there are quite a few people out there who will already know all this about the world’s second biggest search engine. And a lot of those people will know all about it and still not do anything. Which might leave you asking why not?
Well there is one more thing to consider here; and that’s just how different Google and Bing really are. Because the assumption is that you can probably focus on SEO for Google and then rest assured that you’ll gain more exposure on Bing too.
So you can put your time and effort into the biggest search engine and know that it’s probably helping out on Bing too. As Google still has the bigger market share, that should still be the priority. It just doesn’t make sense turn it on its head.
So does that argument hold water? Just how different are Google and Bing anyway?
Well, it’s certainly true that a lot of your SEO practices are going to remain the same on Google and Bing. Both Google and Bing have the same end goal. That end goal is to supply their users with beautifully made, high quality content. Thus they will use similar means to achieve these ends.
Both look for sites with lots of backlinks, both as a way to find them and as a way to learn what they’re about and whether they’re held in high regard. Likewise, both will analyse the text on a site and look for the use of keywords.
Thus, writing content and building links are both activities that you should be doing no matter which search engine you have in your sites.
And this is the thing: you don’t have to ‘focus’ on Bing at all.
No one is asking you to ditch your efforts on Google, that wouldn’t be a smart business move. But if you understand how Bing works, then you can do a little of both. You can add in a few techniques that you know will help your Bing ranking, or you can occasionally write a post for Bing.
This is just stuff that you should know.
So let’s make sure you know it…
“As an AI, Bing is probably somewhere on the spectrum.”
Yes, taking things too literally is one of the most common criticisms levelled at Bing and that’s because it has a tendency to simply look for exact matches in the content.
If you search for ‘I like to eat steak’, then Bing will look for websites that have that phrase or something similar somewhere in their text:
On the other hand, Google just looks for content about steak and about people who like to eat steak:
In this way, Google shows a little more understanding and has more ability to read between the lines. Not that this is always a good thing mind.
Sometimes Google’s second guessing can actually be a bit irritating and can lead to results that aren’t directly related to what you’re looking for.
If you ask a question for instance, then Bing will be more likely to break up a page where someone else has asked that same question. And this can be very useful! But what it means for you, is that it’s still worth using some keywords.
Whereas Google is much more about ‘latent semantic indexing’ and writing ‘around the subject’, perhaps using some long-tail keywords – Bing will still reward you for including the basic keywords you’re trying to rank for. So try and do a little of both.
You’ll want to use a slightly lower link density than you used to if you want to avoid being penalized for spamming by Google – but you should still include some keywords in there for Bing!
Something that Google and Bing can agree on is that user engagement matters.
Except Bing is even more explicit about this if anything and has even coined a phrase to describe it the activity they want to avoid: pogo sticking.
There will be none of this, thank you very much!
Pogo sticking is when a website jumps from one result, clicks back and then clicks on another. This is what they want to avoid so if you want Bing to love you, you need to prevent your visitors from wanting to click back.
This means you need to grab attention early on and it means that you need to think about your page speed, your design etc.
Another similar factor that Bing also takes seriously is CTR – Click Through Rate.
In other words, how many people click on your link. So if they keep showing your website in their SERPs but no one ever clicks on it, then this suggests that your site doesn’t look very interesting. All it’s doing is cluttering up the page and taking up space that another site could make better use of!
This is quite a clever way for Bing to check that the results coming up are relevant – or that they seem relevant in the eyes of its visitors. This is interesting because it’s not something that Google talks about a lot.
And improving your CTR is going to involve a rather different process compared with the SEO practices you’re probably used to!
What improves CTR?
Many things – but of course the title and meta description are going to be right up there. Think about what will be interesting for someone who is searching for the keyphrase that you’re trying to rank for.
Make sure that there is a direct connection here and have all signals pointing to the same topic. And learn how to write engaging titles and descriptions!
There is some debate still as to the role of social signals on Google, even now. We know for a fact that getting +1s on Google+ will improve your Google ranking but whether the same is true for Facebook Likes is less certain.
And if Facebook was central to Google’s strategy, then you might ask why BuzzFeed isn’t the number one result for every search…
But Bing has gone on record as saying that social signals do matter to them and this means that you should definitely include social media marketing as a big part of your marketing strategy.
Going back to your site content and keywords for a moment, it’s also interesting to consider the difference in crawl depth for Google versus Bing.
Reportedly, Bing only crawls around the first 100kb of a web page, unlike Google which will read your whole site. This then means that you should aim to include your keywords more heavily in the first portion of your content compared with the rest.
And actually this makes a lot of sense for Google too – for different reasons. Google actually looks at certain key points within your content as being more important as indicators than others.
The first paragraph is one section that is given extra importance, as is the last paragraph and as are the headings. And by increasing the keyword density in the first paragraph, you can send the right signals to Bing without getting too spammy with keywords for Google.
This also introduces some other interesting points though too. For instance, a lot of people will rely on site maps in order to help search engines index their site. This is one page that links to every other page on that domain – and it means that once the site map is indexed, Google knows where to find all future content you add. But this won’t work for Bing if it’s only reading the top segment of the page!
If you want a site map to work for Bing, then you need to ensure that you put the pages you most want to be found right at the top. And if you’re adding new content, then you want to make sure that new content goes at the top of any list, rather than at the bottom.
Bing believes in golden oldies. In other words, it believes that an older domain is likely more authoritative than a newer domain.
So if you have a page that has been around for a long time, you’ll find that it gradually climbs up the rankings. This is one thing that has personally always put me off about Bing.
Most of the research I do requires up-to-date and current answers and that means I can’t make do with posts from 2012. When I search on Bing, I’m often left wondering if anything I’m reading is relevant anymore. This is personal preference though.
As far as SEO goes, it’s actually a good thing.
Why? Because it means that Google is going to like fresh content and Bing will give it some love as it starts to fade. But do bear in mind that both Bing and Google prefer older domains.
Another thing to take some time to learn about is Bing’s ‘Spam Filter’.
This is how Bing decides whether or not to penalize sites that show up on its SERP's, so you need to make sure that you observe the rules Bing recommends. This means:
As The Alan Parson’s Project sang, ‘where do we go from here?’.
Now you have lots of information about why Bing matters, how it works and how it is different from Google. But you also know that you need to keep on focussing only on Google.
For the most part, you’re not going to do anything that differently. But you may want to consider including a few more keywords in your opening paragraphs.
Maybe you show a little more love to your legacy content. Perhaps you reorganize your site map… Oh and definitely think about your titles, your meta descriptions and how these factors will impact on your CTR.
And in doing all that, you’ll be throwing Bing the occasional bone that will help you to succeed a little bit more on the second biggest search engine in the world. This will help you start tapping into that 30% market share that little bit more and hopefully improving your number of visitors.
And if the Googlepocalypse ever does come, at least you’ll have a backup site that will still be bringing you fresh visitors and helping you to run your business.
Bing SEO, like any SEO is a cumulative process. The sooner you start, the sooner you see results.
If you don't start, you're unlikely to see results. While there are differences between Bing & Google algorithms, a good SEO provider will acknowledge these differences and tailor their campaigns to make sure you see rank improvements across both search engines.
For clients looking for rank increases across ALL search engines, we recommend ordering our SEO services, which consistently sees rank improvements in Google, Bing and Yahoo!
What differences have you noticed between Google & Bing SEO? Comment below!