When it comes to SEO, most webmasters suffer from a severe case of tunnel vison. They’re hyper-focused on Google, and they pretty much ignore everything else, including Bing.
This obsession with Google has been going on for quite some time. Since 1998, Google has gotten the lion’s share of attention when it comes to search engine optimization.
That’s more than 20 years. Over two decades!
And the problem gets worse.
Many people mistakenly think that ranking high on Google will automatically transfer to high rankings on Bing.
This simply isn’t true. It’s pretty clear that even those who do consider “inferior” search engines when optimizing their websites have more questions and misconceptions about Bing than they do information.
We’re here to solve that by explaining SEO for Bing in an easy-to-understand and instantly applicable way.
The truth is, we understand why you (and nearly every other webmaster and SEO on the planet) may have marginalized Bing in the past.
However, we also have faith that when armed with the stats about this powerful-in-its-own-right search engine, you’ll at least consider using Bing search engine optimization.
Taking steps to optimize for Bing will take some guts. You’ll be forced to step out of your comfort zone and thing about something other than Google for a moment.
But you can do it, and the rewards will be sweet.
There’s less competition on Bing (because of the Google craze), so you should be able to make big strides fairly quickly.
In this simple but super informative guide to Bing SEO, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about optimizing for this second-in-command search engine. These include:
You’ll also get some inside tips on how to rank higher on Bing.
What are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in!
If you were on Family Feud right now instead of reading this article and you were asked “Where do people turn for information on the Internet?”, you would give the question one millisecond of though before you answered “Google,” and it would most definitely be the #1 answer. You’d win the game. Your family members would high-five you. The crowd would cheer.
But this isn’tFamily Feud. This is reality. And in the real SEO game, Google may be number one, but it’s not the only search engine in existence.
If you don’t optimize for it, you lose visitors. Depending on your industry, your losses might be minimal, or they might be game-changing.
And remember, this is the game of life. And not the one made by Hasbro—the one where you sink or swim based on what you do with your website. No pressure.
So why do people use Bing? The truth is that some people use Bing without being aware that they’re using it. The search engine just happens to be their default web browser. They may not know how to change it. Or, they may not care which search engine they use to access information on the internet.
For your website and SEO purposes, the motive for using Bing really doesn’t matter all that much, though. What matters is that there are people out there using it to find information, and you have information to offer via your website. So why not try to get their attention? That’s where SEO for Bing comes in.
So, yeah. Bing is bigger than you think. It doesn’t get near as much talk around the water cooler for SEOs as Google does, but Bing does ok. The search engine is responsible for about 15 billion searches per month. That’s not chump change when it comes to the market share of searches. In fact, it’s a decent slice of the pie, making up 30% of all searches.
Microsoft’s search engine has always fared pretty well in the U.S. but has recently been making gains in the UK marketas well. This global reach makes it even more attractive to webmasters and SEOs—and for good reason!
As you can see, UK SEO expert Mark Fewings is definitely on board with you implementing a search engine optimization strategy for Bing. And we concur.
Another legitimate reason to optimize your site for Bing is that it tends to convert traffic better than Google does. This could be because Bing does particularly well among slightly older, more affluent users.
That’s right. Over a third of Bing users have an annual salary in the six figures, and another 17% make more than $75,000 a year.
Plus, the between 35 and 54 crowd makes up almost 40% of the Bing demographic.
Yep, Bing users have money, and they know how to spend it!
This means your ranking in Bing could actually translate to more clicks and sales than your ranking in Google, even if those rankings are pretty much equal on SERPs. That should be enough right there to get you thinking about leveraging Bing SEO. Am I right?
The takeaway here is that Bing users aren’t just surfing the net to waste time between games of Fortnite. That just isn’t Bing’s primary demographic. Instead, those who use Bing tend to be serious consumers looking for data to inform purchases. So, if you’re in the retail space, you may want to listen up.
That leads us to our next point about Bing and industry-specific SEO.
If you ask us, it’s advantageous to optimize for Bing no matter what kind of website you own. And since it’s fairly simple and straightforward, there’s just no reason not to do it (in our humble opinion).
However, the benefits of Bing SEO may be more plentiful in certain industries. That said, how much time and effort you commit to your Bing search engine optimization strategy may very well depend on your niche. Take a look at the below stats…
This one, for example. If you’re in the retail industry, a good chunk of your target market is using Bing:
As we noted, these are often consumers looking to make a purchase or at the very least gather info about making a purchase in the future. Cha-ching!
Statistics on search engine usage reveal that if you’re in the financial industry, you’re also well-represented on Bing:
Think 40-somethings looking for life insurance, retirement strategies, and investment opportunities. Click, click, click.
The same holds true for those in the tech niche, though to a slightly lesser extent:
But wait, there’s more…
Another good reason to jump on the Bing bandwagon and start using SEO for Bing is that Microsoft’s search engine is much more open about its ranking methods and algorithms than Google is. In other words, you may be able to construct an effective strategy without tackling a huge learning curve. Since you’re likely time-strapped like most of use are, that’s always a plus.
Google doesn’t always make our lives easy.
We’ve discussed before how tight-lipped the search giant is about its innerworkings. This can make it hard for the SEO community—even experts like us 😉— to know what to do when their rankings drop. Or when SERPs change dramatically with no explanation.
When this happens (and it happens often!), everyone’s left standing around scratching their heads while their rankings plummet. Eventually, things get figured out, and you’re able to recover your lost rankings. But it’s not without a lot of wasted time and effort, not to mention lost traffic and conversions and a whole bunch of frustration.
Google SEO is just no fun sometimes. That’s why a lot of webmasters refer to Google SEO as a necessary evil.
What’s worse is that a lot of times, Google doesn’t even acknowledge an algorithm change, much less explain it. With Bing’s algorithm, SEO isn’t completely straightforward, either. That’s not what we’re trying to say here. But it’s certainly less cryptic than optimization for Google.
You’re still gonna stratch your head with Bing SEO, but maybe you won’t leave a mark.
The bottom line? The simpler Bing algorithm could mean that implementing SEO for Bing may be less of a pseudoscience than Google SEO. It also means there may be clearer steps for improvement if and when your site does take a hit on Bing SERPs.
In that way, Bing SEO is just a little more fun. And it can be lucrative too.
When it comes to Google SEO and Bing SEO, there are some similarities, no doubt. These similarities are not numerous enough though that you can successfully use a one-size-fits all SEO approach for both search engines. High rankings on Google do not necessarily mean high rankings on Bing and vice versa.
Let’s look at some of the similarities and differences between Google and Bing SEO now. We’ll focus more on the differences since these are more important for tweaking your ranking strategy for each search engine.
Keywords have long played a part in good SEO practices, but their role has changed over the years—at least for Google.
Years ago, good keyword integration for the search giant meant strategic placement of exact keyword matches. For example, an auto supply parts store would have been well-served by using the keyword “best transmission service” multiple times in their website copy in order to rank high on SERPs for transmission work.
This strategy worked. Webmasters who focused on keywords associated with their products and services saw an uptick in rankings. There was also an unintended consequence, however. Some SEOs began writing their web content for Google more so than for their visitors. This created what Google would refer to as a “bad user experience.”
With the advent of Hummingbird and Rankbrain, Google effectively remedied this situation. Now, Google uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to infer “user intent” when search phrases are entered into its engine. This is something we’ve come to know as semantic search.
Or you can call it mind-reading if you want because that’s essentially what it is. At the very least, it’s Google’s best stab at mind-reading anyway.
Back on topic, though. Keywords.
Today, when you search “best transmission service” on Google, you won’t get exact keyword matches on the first page. That’s because the search engine has intuited what the user is looking for (via RankBrain), so it can find the best content on the web addressing the searcher’s needs.
So instead of exact keyword matches, you’ll get this:
According to post-RankBrain Google, the best content for a search query does not necessarily mean an exact keyword match. Though the first result does have part of the keyphrase in the title, a quick glance at the other results on the page reveals that keywords are no longer such a big deal for Google as a ranking factor.
That means with Google SEO, webmasters can focus more on writing content with the user in mind, not the search engine. Capiche?
On Bing, though, the situation is much different. Here, you’ll still get several exact keyword matches on the first SERP when you search for “best transmission service.” As you can see, this keyphrase pretty much dominates the top search results:
Note that these top results on Bing aren’t even on the first page for Google using the same search query.
The difference is that Bing hasn’t incorporated semantic search (aka RankBrain (aka mindreading)) into its search algorithm. It still has to rely on keywords to infer what the user is looking for.
Keywords aren’t just important in the actual content of the website for Bing SEO, either. You also need to keep them top of mind when creating H1 and H2 title tags and metadescriptions. Again, these are things that are no longer as important for Google in the wake of Hummingbird and Rankbrain.
When it comes to keywords, optimizing for Bing is a little like optimizing for Google if you jumped in your trusty time machine and went back five years ago.
Let’s be clear, though. Stuffing is only something you should indulge in around the dinner table once a year (ok, maybe twice). It is notsomething you should ever do with keywords.
But I just said Bing likes keywords, right? Yes, but it still dislikes keyword stuffing very very much. In fact, Bing says using this tactic can hurt your ranking on Bing or even get your site delisted. Ouch.
Instead of stuffing your copy with keywords for ranking purposes, Bing recommends you focus on your reader and do your homework (aka keyword research). It even provides a handy tool for doing just that:
If Bing dislikes keyword stuffing, though, Google despises it.
The search engine goes so far as to call the tactic “irrelevant.” If you know anything about Google at all, you know this label is tantamount to a four-letter word. For the search giant, there’s really nothing worse than being irrelevant.
On its official site, Google bashes keyword stuffing as an SEO strategy and gives us a somewhat simplistic example of what not to do:
Yeah, Google. We get it.
How Google and Bing consider backlinks is a complex topic. To be honest, no one really understands exactly how it’s done. But theories are plentiful amongst SEOs and webmasters. Instead of indulging in conspiracy and speculation, we’ll give you the facts instead and let you make up your own mind.
One thing is certain: while Google prefers quality links over quantity, the opposite is true for Bing. That means that to rank high on Google SERPs, it’s important to have links from authoritative sites—that is, sites that are trusted and popular.
On Bing, though, having authoritative backlinks is important too, but it might not be enough to get you the rankings on SERPs that you want. Microsoft’s search engine wants you to have a decent number of links too in order to grow your link profile. This can take time, but it will be worth it to improve your Bing rankings.
Here’s the official word from the search engine’s website on what links mean in terms of ranking on Bing:
The search engine also provides some tips for how to build your links and get higher rankings on Bing as a result:
Key takeaways include asking websites for links, using social media to obtain links, and using keywords in the anchor text. Good to know, right?
The whole point of a search engine is to help users find the content they need, so it should come as no surprise that both Bing and Google value high-quality content. Both search engines bow to the supremacy of good content as a primary ranking factor for websites.
Still, each search engine has a slightly different way of interpreting quality content. We’ll look at Bing’s view first and then compare it to Google’s.
Bing considers more than just relevance when ranking a site for high-quality content. The search engine says, “an effective ranking algorithm should consider not only relevance but also the authority, utility and presentation of the content in order to provide the best search results.”
Bing also provides a few (pretty extreme) examples of what it considers problematic content. Here’s one of those examples:
If we look closely at this example web page, we will find some issues with all three of Bing’s pillars of content quality.
For instance, if we look for the author of the content, the only information we’ll find is that it was written by “admin”:
Admin could be literally anyone, so this doesn’t give us a lot to work with. And it certainly doesn’t add to the content’s authority in any way.
In terms of utility, the page doesn’t really provide much useful content for the visitor. It’s mostly just ads and hyperlinks.
The presentation of the content on the page leaves something to be desired as well. The most glaring problem here is that it uses an ad where the main content of the page should be. Bing takes issue with this tactic in particular:
Appropriate usage and presentation of advertising is an important aspect of Content Quality. Bing will promote and support websites and webmasters that provide ads relevant to the content of their website and place ads so that they do not interfere with the user experience. Pages with well-designed layouts will be preferred to pages that hide content behind ads, fail to clearly delineate ads from the main content, or feature ads that are easily confused with navigational elements.
It’s also important to note that Bing considers content quality separately from relevancy and identifies it as one of the search engine’s three main ranking signals:
In addition to topic relevance and content quality, Bing also considers context as a major ranking signal. Bing says context refers to issues like time and place, for example. In other words, the search engine doesn’t look at the search query in a vacuum, but instead attempts to place it into a context. It may consider whether or not the query relates to recent events or how the query’s meaning may be affected by the searcher’s physical location, for instance.
For Google, high-quality content is also paramount. In fact, the search engine says that providing this type of preferred content is “the single most important thing you can do” on your website:
It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
But still, Google looks at content a little differently than Bing, so a content-driven Bing SEO effort may look a little different from one designed with Google in mind.
For one thing, Google places a higher priority on relevant content than Bing does. The search giant has repeatedly said that it will show the most relevant site for a search query even if that site’s content lacks in other areas.
The search engine also reports that locating the most relevant content to show on SERPs is a complex process. Google considers over 200 factors to determine relevancy.
There’s another important distinction between Google SEO and Bing SEO, so listen up.
It’s been said that Bing is more visual than Google and prefers sites with rich multimedia. We thought we’d put this rumor to the test.
A quick search of smoothie recipes seems to confirm the theory. This is what we got on Google:
And here’s the results for the same search query on Bing:
While we can’t make any sweeping generalizations based on this one experiment, the results are worth noting. What we can say is that it’s true that the SERPs for Bing are much more visual for this particular search query.
Based on this, one could predict that you may see higher rankings in Bing when you use relevant images, videos, and other multimedia. It’s definitely worth a try.
Does social matter on Bing? Absolutely! Bing has made it clear that it will reward you for being influential on social media as the search engine’s algorithm sees it as a “positive signal.” Here’s the official word from Bing:
Google considers social signals as well. It’s been said that social matters more on Bing, though.
We decided to test the theory informally using a simple search. Here, we searched for the brand “Milk Makeup.”
We searched first on Bing. This is what we found about halfway down the first SERP:
As you can see, Bing brings up individual posts from both Twitter and Instagram via a carousel.
On Google, the first SERP looks very different. Again, this is about halfway down the page:
While we get video content from YouTube on Google’s first SERP, we don’t get too much from the social side of things. Milk Makeup’s Instagram page is listed, but it’s certainly not highlighted. And Twitter is no where to be found.
From this test, it looks like Bing relies a lot more on social signals for its rankings than Google does. So when optimizing for Bing, it may be a good idea to focus more on your social channels.
Both Bing and Google recommend that you use structured data on your website to help the search engines determine how to best present your content on results pages. Following these guidelines could result in higher rankings as well as placement in featured search results such as snippets and knowledge cards, for example.
Bing has a tool for testing your structured data:
And Google has a similar tool:
You can use structured data to trigger richer search results on both Bing and Google in a variety of different contexts. Specifically, structured data can help the search engines present featured and visually rich content for users looking for
If you’ve made it this far (congrats!), you now know why it’s important to optimize for Bing and how search engine optimization for Bing differs from Google SEO. Now, let’s talk about specific strategies you can use right away for ranking higher on Bing.
The good thing to know going in is that Bing is pretty amicable about the whole search engine optimization game. Whereas Google has been known to be a tad snarky when it comes to SEOs and their tactics, Bing has a more helpful attitude towards helping webmasters achieve the rankings they desire. So that’s nice.
When implementing Bing search engine optimization, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the search engine’s algorithm is much simpler than Google’s. According to its own webmaster guidelines, ranking high on Bing is about excelling in three basic categories: content, code, and links.
Of course, within each category, there are numerous things to consider, so it’s not quite as simple as it may sound. But it’s still a breeze compared to figuring out Google’s enigmatic algorithms.
Getting started with Bing SEO is simple as well. Just sign up for an account and add your site.
You’ll also need to verify that you’re the site owner.
Once you’ve added and verified your site, you’ll have instant access to a variety of helpful tools for ranking higher on Bing. Some of these tools include a keyword research tool, an SEO analyzer, and a mobile-friendly test, for example. There are several more, too:
Bing’s SEO Analyzer is a webmaster’s dream tool. It provides an on-demand analysis of how your page is doing according to Bing webmaster guidelines and SEO best practices. All you do is enter your site’s URL and click ANALYZE. You’ll then be served up an instant SEO analysis that looks something like this:
With the SEO Analyzer tool, you’ll see what’s wrong with your site according to the search engine itself, so you’ll know exactly what to do to rank higher on Bing.
Bing isn’t quite as obsessed with mobile as Google is. Even so, it rewards sites for being mobile friendly by ranking them higher on mobile search.
To help you determine whether your site is considered mobile-friendly, Bing has developed a user-friendly tool. To use it, simply enter your website and click the ANALYZE button. If you’re sufficiently optimized for mobile, you’ll receive the all-clear from Bing:
On the other hand, if you’ve got some work to do to make your site friendlier for Bing’s mobile users, then you’ll get some helpful hints instead:
It’s worth noting here that Google has similar tools for webmasters as well.
For local SEO, one of the best things you can do in order to get exposure from Microsoft’s search engine is to get a well-optimized Bing Place local business listing. You can also use Bing Places if your store has multiple locations or even if you have no physical building that houses your business.
Getting your business listed on Bing Places is a simple three-step process. All you need to do is add your listing, verify, and publish.
You can find complete instructions on the official Bing webmaster site.
Your published listing will look something like this:
In order to complete your listing on Bing Places, you’ll need to enter some basic information such as your business’s name, address, and telephone number. You can also choose to add additional info such as:
Photos of your business and products (up to 100)
Links to your website and social media pages
According to Bing, the more information you add to your listing, the better!
To rank on Bing Places, you need to understand how local ranking works on this search engine. When a user searches for a place nearby, Bing shows the user results based on three factors: relevancy, distance, and popularity.
Bing says that the more information you provide in your listing, the better the search engine is at matching you with local consumers looking for establishments like yours. This is how the relevancy factor works. So be sure to stuff that listing full of good specs! (More on that above.)
When users search for a business online, Bing will assume they’re looking for a nearby establishment. That means distance (from the user to your place of business) plays a factor in how your business will rank on results pages. This should go without saying, but make sure your location is accurate when you complete your listing.
Popularity is the third and final factor Bing considers when ranking your business with Bing Places. To determine your popularity, Bing will consider several things such as your reviews on Yelp and web chatter about your business. The more your name is mentioned online, the more exposure you’ll get from Bing Places.
According to Bing, website SEO also plays into how your business will be ranked with Bing Places. Anything you do to optimize your site for Bing will also help your Bing Places listing. Takeaway? A well-optimized website makes for a well-optimized Bing Place local business listing!
Seriously. What are you waiting for? Optimizing your website for Bing will definitely be worth your while, and it’s easy to do. If you need to take a breather from Google SEO or just leverage this search engine to reach more potential visitors, then you should certainly give it a try.