Welcome to the eighth in a nine-part series designed to help you score extra SEO boosts in 2021 using SEO tactics most others are not. Today we are going to take a look at what happens when you stop focusing all your energies – and SEO resources – on Google, and take some time to work on Bing SEO.
Does Bing Even Matter?
We almost always mean Google when we speak of search engines. It’s fair to assume that we’re talking about Google optimization when we say ‘SEO’. This is largely understandable: Google holds about 80 per cent of the US/UK desktop search market share, so it’s only fair that Google has been the primary focus of most marketers and SEOs for more than a while.
But what of the remaining portion? 20% of the search engine market is also impressively significant, certainly bigger than something you should write off. And, as we’ll explain, Bing offers some SEO bonuses Google does not, especially for local businesses.
Bing and Yahoo together make up ~ 15% of the market for search engines. That means that either Yahoo or Bing will be used instead of Google for any fifth searcher.
Wait, though, did we say one search engine?
Yahoo search has been powered by Bing for several years now, which means that at least 51% of Yahoo’s searches rely on Bing’s index and ranking algorithm. If you run a few test searches on your own, you will find that in Yahoo and Bing, the search results are very similar, which means optimizing for Bing SEO will also work for Yahoo SEO.
There are other Bing users you may not have thought about as well that make the search engine more important than you might think. 88% of the world’s desktop computers are still powered by Windows.
When a Windows user asks Cortana a question via their desktop computer – which they do increasingly as voice search is still growing across the board – or search from their lock screen, they will be using Bing. Bing also powers the search functions within applications like Microsoft Office, Skype, and Outlook.
And then there are those 90 million-plus Xbox Live users. Their console searches are powered by Bing too. And these are not kids. The average Xbox Live user is 33, male, college-educated and earns in excess of 75,000. They are big spenders on tech, but also on home goods, clothing and food. In other words, an audience that many companies are looking to reach.
But we digress. Let’s get to those reasons to diverse your SEO efforts towards Bing as well as Google …
The Competition on Bing is Lower
A very good reason for introducing Bing to your SEO strategy and making a deliberate effort not to neglect it is because fewer of your rivals are vying for Bing’s ranking positions.
It makes sense. There are fewer competitors for Bing organic rankings, with most marketers flocking to Google because it has such a large share of web traffic. And because you’re in direct competition with fewer companies, you’re more likely to get a higher spot in search results and a greater share of eyeballs and targeted web traffic than you’ll get on Google, as long as you do a little Bing SEO optimization.
This can be especially helpful to newer and smaller businesses who are targeting a localized audience they want to reach fast.
Traffic From Bing Converts Better
It transforms Bing traffic better than Google’s.
Bing traffic, arguably, typically has a higher conversion rate than Google’s. This is an observation that many marketers have made. Check out these GA comparisons for a site we’ve worked on to see what we mean:
You can see that there is about a 20 per cent conversion rate for both Yahoo and Bing search engines, while Google’s is 16.5 per cent. We’re not entirely sure why that is, but it may have to do with the fact that the demographic of Bing is, on average, age-wise (mostly 35+) more mature and has more money to spend.
If the 35+ market is a part of your demographic, then there is no question that paying more attention to Bing, and Bing SEO is a must.
Bing SEO is Easier
Bing is surprisingly transparent about its ranking factors, unlike Google. It is also unusually pro-SEO, and will never say something like “any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of our guidelines.”
In fact, Bing is very SEO friendly and offer tons of guidance. We strongly suggest that you get the lowdown on all ranking variables, including an all-encompassing guide straight from the horse’s mouth on how to rank on Bing, via Bing’s search engine optimization guidelines in Bing Webmaster Tools.
So know that you know Bing SEO is indeed worth your time. And can offer you some of those great overlooked SEO boosts your competitors are missing out on, let’s take a closer look at some of the most important things to focus on to get the most out of Bing SEO optimization.
Technical Bing SEO and Indexation
As Bing notes clearly in its guidelines “being indexed is the first step to developing traffic from Bing” So, if you want your site to rank in the results of Bing search, well, the obvious first move is to make sure that all the important pages of your site are indexed in Bing.
Check this by running a search for Bing’s by inputting site:yoursite.com. You’ll immediately see how many pages are indexed on your site.
The search engines usually correlate: if you have no indexing issues with Google, you should find that Bing knows most of your pages as well. However, it can take Bing a while to find and crawl it if your site is brand new. Go on and submit your page yourself with the Bing Webmaster Tool to speed things up if that seems to be the case.
Invite Bing Bots to Index Your Site More Often.
Yes, that’s a thing. You can set the crawl rate and the time of the day that you want your site to be crawled under Crawl Control in Bing Webmaster Tools. Usually, the “standard” crawl rate is low, so you may want to turn it up to “full volume” if your site is large and/or regularly updated.
Submit a Sitemap
One area where Bing is quite picky is site maps. According to their Bing Webmaster Guidelines: “Your sitemaps need to be clean. We have a 1% allowance for dirt in a sitemap. Examples of dirt are if we click on a URL and we see a redirect, a 404 or a 500 code. If we see more than a 1% level of dirt, we begin losing trust in the sitemap”.
You can either include the path to your sitemap in your robots.txt to ensure that Bing can locate your sitemap or upload your sitemap to Bing directly via your Bing Webmaster Tools account.
Under the Sitemaps section, click Submit a Sitemap and enter your sitemap file URL, such as http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml. Any errors that occur during the creation of your sitemap will help diagnose file problems, so they can be fixed before it’s sent to Bing.
Use Straightforward Keywords
Since Google released the Hummingbird search algorithm in 2012, we have continued to hear and learn more about semantic search and user intent, and less about old-school keywords.
Unlike Google, the semantic game isn’t one played by Bing. Research shows that on broad-matching queries, it is not too strong, so simple keyword targeting would work best here. You’re going to have to leave all the vaguely identical words at the door for strong keyword rankings on Bing.
“Verbatim keyword matching is much more important for Bing traffic.” – Bing Webmaster Guidelines.
That means that, if you want to see a strong Bing ranking, keyword research will be one of the most critical steps in your optimization process.
Bing search box keyword suggestions are a great place to begin. Apart from Bing-specific optimization, this keyword suggestion method is also great for SEO as a whole, even if you are optimizing for Google, as it gives you plenty of keyword ideas that Keyword Planner and Google Autocomplete do not. And they are very much in real-time, so an excellent place to get content ideas too.
You will find out that if you check their search volume in Google Ads, those suggestions you get are also typically common on Google. But on a Bing Specific note, SEO for Bing can be made so much easier by using the search engine itself as an SEO tool.
Optimize for On-Page Bing SEO, But Do So Carefully
While backlinking still helps to a certain degree for Bing SEO – and you’ll still need them to please Google anyway – clever and contextual keyword utilization is much more relevant to Bing SEO.
Certain Bing SEO ‘tricks’ will work better than others. For example, Bing often seems to prioritize content with exact keyword matching in page titles, meta descriptions, and general web content. This means that if you can, without sacrificing the smooth readability Google is looking for, occasionally make use of long-tail keywords verbatim.
Using your well-researched keywords in URL slugs, H2 subheadings, and in the first paragraph of your content are also good practices to follow if you want to see your site at the top of the Bing SERPs.
Leverage Bing Image Search
The one place most users will find Bing outdoes Google is with its image search. In order to put high-quality, beautiful images into its image search results, Bing engineers have worked to ensure its image search has become exceptional.
Therefore, it’s worth the time and effort to add unique high-resolution visuals to your content, but, of course, in a web-friendly format. This is especially true for retailers, as the Bing Image Search results for product images are fantastic.
Don’t forget to add informative alt texts with some keywords in them, and if you do all this, you’ll likely gain more organic traffic from the results of Bing image search. And targeted traffic at that.
Bing Loves Social Signals So Send Them
The years-long debate over whether social signals are a Google SERPS ranking factor still rages on in 2021, but Bing has always been very clear about the fact that a brand’s social media presence is important to them.
Bing’s webmaster guidelines tell us that in its rating algorithm, social signals weigh heavily. What this means is that Bing matters more to your social media presence than Google does.
Bing helps determine the quality of your website content from how your social media performs. So, make sure you don’t buy likes or follows, or post without a strong, consistent voice for the brand.
What does “social signals” mean to Bing? Likes, shares, retweets, re-pins and general engagement on social media, usually on industry-leading sites such as Twitter, Facebook. and Instagram. You will need to ensure your presence on social media is geared to your target audience, however. For example, law firms probably won’t have much use for Pinterest or Instagram, but for photography studios, these platforms are vital.
Keep Producing Great Longer Form Content
Google loves content and Bing is no different. But short and sweet won’t really cut it (which is true of Google too)
For both Bing and Google in 2021, you should put the emphasis on quality and not quantity. Too many people try to create ‘more’ content by breaking a longer piece into several short blog posts. Don’t.
In 2021, between 2,100 and 2,400 words should be the perfect blog post length for standard posts. This is enough to address a subject extensively with authority, but not so long that fluff will be unavoidable and/or readers will begin to lose interest.
One last point here, which may be especially nice for those still struggling to meet Google’s increasingly demanding requirements on site speed.
Unlike Google, page speed is not used by the Bing algorithm as a ranking metric. They believe that a page with a load time of 4 seconds could be a better experience for their searchers than a page with a load time of 1 second, as long as the former has all the material that the searcher needs.
Focusing too much on load time, according to Bing’s Duane Forrester, reduces user experience and also leads webmasters to eliminate otherwise useful features, which does make a lot of sense if you think about it.
Wrapping up: SEO for Bing vs SEO for Google
In terms of Bing SEO vs Google SEO, it’s not a good idea to worry about improving your online presence for one over the other. As we’ve repeatedly touched on throughout this article, Bing is more similar to Google than many know. Their algorithms may not be the same, but with delicate balancing, a technique that fits both Bing and Google is not difficult to come up with.
Need help with Bing SEO? Get in touch; the Pearl Lemon Team will be happy to help.