Bing was unveiled in 2009 by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the San Diego “All Things Digital” conference and is a combination of Windows Live Search and Yahoo!Search. It advertises itself as the “decision engine” and claims to find and organize the answers you need so that you can make more informed and faster decisions. Bing is the default search engine on Internet Explorer which means it’s the default search engine for more than 38% or all users. It is rapidly catching up with Google as the search engine of choice and claims to have better success rates than Google, with more users clicking onto the resulting links.
WEBMASTERS NEED TO SWING BOTH WAYS!
For website owners this means that your website needs to be optimized for Bing as well as for Google. SEO webmasters are probably aware that Bing’s algorithms are different from the Google algorithms and provide different search results. However, the most important thing that webmasters need to know is how to optimize for Bing.
With Bing attaching more importance to On-Site Optimization, keywords, meta titles, descriptions, headers and tags all need to be focussed on. Bing crawlers look at every page of a website, unlike the Google crawlers which focus on the most important pages. This means that you need quality content on each page. Both Bing and Google have added many social search features over the past year – one of which is a way of seeing results that are shared or written by friends (Google’s Social Search and Bing’s Facebook Liked Results) – this is a search method directly influenced by people you know, although the number of shares/likes has no direct effect on the search rankings. Both also have methods of finding out which content is being shared on social networks, namely Google Realtime Search and Bing Social Search. Both Google and Bing have revealed that who you are as a person on Twitter can have an effect on how well a page does in a regular web search, with tweeters who have “social authority” lending weight to the pages that they tweet links to. With Twitter data playing an increasingly important role in web searches, “social authority” is sure to become a vital issue in search engine rankings in the near future – both search engines use a form of Twitter Rank for people and retweets are serving as a method of link building. If you can get your pages mentioned in tweets by people with “social authority” it can help raise your ranking in search results to some extent.
It’s debatable which of these two giant search engines provides websites with most traffic, but optimizing for both is now the name of the game. Each of them provides users with value in its own way and both provide relevant searches with successful results. Google’s exact search results in relation to keyword often returns better results than Bing, but with both search engines constantly improving and updating to provide a better user experience, webmasters need to optimize for both.
BLING FOR BING
I’ve already covered Search Engine Optimization for Google in several blog posts so today I thought I’d take a look at some of the ways of doing the same thing for Bing. Bing has published a list of fundamental issues that webmasters need to consider to ensure that the site rates high in the rankings.
- Become a member of Bing Webmaster Tools, research has shown it can make a difference to your ranks.
- Use an HTML sitemap to improve site structure and make sure that you link to trusted sources both outside your website and within it.
- Make sure that you have a solid content hierarchy by doing keyword research and avoid rich media such as Flash and Silverlight.
- Ensure that your website is crawlable by using an XMP sitemap, a robots.txt file and properly structure on-site navigation.
- On every page use a unique short meta title with fewer than 65 characters with the targeted keyword featuring towards the beginning of the title.
- Create quality content (see tips here for what Bing deems “quality content”).
- When building links, focus on keyword relevant anchor tags which link back to the quality content on your page.
- Use unique meta description tags.
- Create an RSS feed on your website.
- Make sure that your website’s user interface prioritizes the user experience – page load time is not as important as how the user responds.
- Use schema.org markup (find out how here).
- Make sure that you have plenty of Share buttons for social sharing. Don’t use auto-following on the social front.
- Don’t use link farms or engage in three-way linking and never buy links.
- Don’t duplicate content or use thin content.
- Don’t cloak your website.
Bing provides WEBMASTER TOOLS free of charge and they are as easy to use as Google’s Webmaster Tools and provide traffic reports in the same way. Bing attaches great importance to mobile search marketing and the Bing Business Portal provides tools and services that can be used to launch your business into local search marketing, mobile search marketing and social media marketing when you set up and optimize the free Bing account.
With mobile searching enjoying such prominence in browsing nowadays, making sure your website is mobile-friendly is of paramount importance.
BATTLE OF THE GIANTS
Slingshot recently did some research on Google and Bing click through rates which they claim is one of the best metrics for measuring user engagement online. Google and Bing combined control more than 95% of all search engine queries and the white paper containing the findings of this research is available for download.
Further research by search agency Rosetta shows that although Google is dominant in all industries, vertical markets like financial services and retail had stronger competition from Bing and Yahoo. In retail, Google only accounted for 60% of the clicks to websites surveyed – and that Bing’s 37% represents a significant organic opportunity.
SEOmoz recently published a detailed comparison of both search engines with infographics that gives a comprehensive view of click through rates and ranking factors and the findings will provide SEO webmasters with some food for though. Any webmaster who decides to ignore Bing and just optimize for Google does so at his/her own peril – Bing is here to stay and if you don’t start understanding and optimizing for it right now you’re likely to fall to the bottom of the pile in search engine rankings.
Good luck with optimizing your website for Bing.
If you need help and advice with making sure that your website is Bing-friendly, then get in touch with me, Jonny Ross on 01133 20 21 21.
If you’ve found this blog post useful, please feel free to share it. If you have any advice or tips for others on improving SEO strategy, please leave any comments in the box below.
Update to Top SEO Tips for Bing:-
Surfing the net today, I came across a great post by David Malmborg at SEO.com, a fantastic analysis on the demographic using Bing. Another reason we shouldn’t ignore it!