Although you’re likely to focus your SEO efforts on optimising for Google, Bing shouldn’t be overlooked. Its market share is growing, and it could be a great way to reach new audiences.
In April 2017, Bing and Yahoo! (which is powered by Bing) had a combined UK market share of 13.23%. Although this may not seem a lot when compared to Google’s dominance, as SEOs concerned with ensuring we get as much quality traffic as possible to our sites, it’s 13% you shouldn’t ignore.
Bing’s desktop search share is actually growing faster than Google’s. As Search Engine Journal pointed out, in 2016 Bing’s share of US desktop search grew by 0.2% whilst Google’s dropped by 0.2%. This was put down to factors such as the growth of Windows 10, with which Bing search is integrated, as well as factors like Siri using Bing and Firefox having Yahoo as its default search engine.
What this means is that Bing shouldn’t be ignored in your SEO efforts. At the very least, you should have some understanding of how Bing differs from Google – just because you rank well in Google, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to rank well in Bing. There’s variances in the search algorithms used which weigh different ranking factors differently.
Additionally, as the search volumes on Bing on lower, it’s a less competitive space in which to get your website seen on the SERPs.
Similarities Between Optimising for Bing & Google
There are many ranking factors which you’ll happily see are similar to Google’s. Check out Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines for a full breakdown on what Bing like to see. Simply put, the foundational SEO tenets of content and links are essentially the same on both engines.
Like Google, the factor that Bing emphasises first and foremost is quality content – they state that ‘content is what Bing seeks’. Each page should be unique, written for humans and not search engines. Ensuring your content is rich and engaging will get you in both Google’s and Bing’s good books.
Bing has put forward the ‘three pillars of content quality’ with which webmasters can guide their content to increase its chances of ranking:
Following these ‘pillars’ is a great approach when designing content, whether for Bing or Google. Question whether what’s on the page is trustworthy, useful, detailed and presented in a way that’s easy to read for humans and search engines, and your SEO efforts will be off to a great start.
Similarly, backlinks are hugely beneficial when it comes to optimising for Bing. Like Google, they are read as a sign of trust, and your site will be rewarded accordingly. Blackhat link building tactics such as link farms will be penalised.
Both search engines offer local results, so if you’re optimising for a local business, ensure you’ve set up a detailed Bing Places and Google My Business listing.
Differences Between Bing and Google
On Page Optimisation
A previous blog post went into more detail on on-page optimisation, and the same rules apply for Bing. So your unique titles, H1s, page content, meta descriptions etc. are all still necessary when optimising for Bing.
It gets a bit more interesting though – many have made a case to say that these factors are even more important on Bing, that Google’s algorithm is now far more advanced, and that optimising for Bing is like optimising for a version of Google that’s several years old.
Bing doesn’t have the advanced understanding of context and semantics which Google’s algorithm has developed, so it’s possible that Bing places more prominence on factors like keywords, anchor text and title tags. With the idea that optimising for Bing is like optimising for an older version of Google in mind, exact match keywords and exact match domain names have more prominence on Bing.
Google announced in 2014 that sites with HTTPS would receive a small ranking boost. However, for Bing, having an SSL certificate has no benefit on rankings. In the same year, the Lead Program Manager for Bing Webmaster Tools, Vincent Wehren, said that Bing has no plans on ever giving a ranking boost to HTTPS sites. Instead, they want to ‘give searchers the content they want’ – whether that’s secure or not.
Age of Domain
Bing places more emphasis than Google on the age of a domain. The idea being that older sites are more authoritative, Bing can prioritise older sites. If your site isn’t ranking as well on Bing, it could be because it’s being outranked by older sites.
It’s also possible that Bing uses social signals as part of its ranking algorithm.
Bing’s own webmaster guidelines state that ‘social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run’.
A 2013 study by Searchmetrics showed that pages ranked higher on Bing had a higher number of social signals. But of course, this could just be correlation, not causation.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Like Google’s Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools is a great platform full of useful tools which can aid your SEO efforts.
It certainly shouldn’t be ignored, so if you’re not using Bing Webmaster Tools, set it up today. Used alongside Search Console, it can give you a more detailed picture of indexation performance and site security. It’s also where you can carry out useful behind the scenes work such as creating and uploading sitemaps and geo-targeting your pages to let Bing know who the intended audience for your site is.
Another useful feature that will help in your efforts to optimise for Bing is the SEO Analyzer Tool. This allows you to measure your pages against SEO best practice and gives you suggestions for fixes, which is a nice and quick way to identify any optimisation opportunities.
Although there’s a few differences in how the search engines operate, the basics of optimising for Bing are the same as when you’re working for Google. Focus on building the trust of your website and making pages that are useful, detailed, properly presented, and written for users, not search engines, .