For most people, when you think SEO you think Google. But this doesn’t mean that you should ignore all other search engines. Specifically, giving some attention to Bing SEO can help you stand out from your competitors.
According to Net Marketshare, out of all search engines, Google has over 78% of the global market share on the desktop, while Bing has around 7-8%. For mobile and tablet searches, Google’s share increases to over 96%, with Bing falling to under 1% of all searches via mobile devices. Despite this, it can be beneficial to put some thought into SEO for Bing, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Bing is the default search engine option for Windows users. Most Windows PCs come pre-installed with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser (rather than Chrome), with Bing (rather than Google) set as the default search engine. Less tech-savvy users will often leave things as they are, rather than attempting to change default settings. There are differences in demographics that you might want to exploit by putting some effort into optimising your site for Bing.
Secondly, Bing is the default option for many Windows Phones, in addition to being the one used by Microsoft’s voice-search virtual assistant Cortana. For some smartphone models, the default search engine can’t be changed from Bing. This is amplified in certain business sectors. In the construction industry, for example, it is commonplace for employees to be given a Windows phone as their company phone, due to the ease of syncing these devices with corporate Office subscriptions. This means that construction contractors and other decision-makers within that sector are often Bing users by default.
Thirdly, as most businesses put 100% of their emphasis on Google, it can be less competitive to try to get ahead on Bing. This is true for organic, but it is also true for paid search as well; cost-per-clicks on Bing Ads are often much less than on Adwords, meaning that you can often get more for your money by mirroring your Adwords PPC campaigns on Bing. You’ll often find that Bing visitors convert better too.
How to Improve SEO on Bing
Optimising a site for Bing is very similar to optimising a site for Google; brand authority, links and content are the key ranking factors for Bing, as they are for Google. But there are some additional tips for Bing SEO.
1. Social signals
There has long been discussion about the extent to which social media influences SEO and vice-versa. But what we do know for sure is that Bing puts more emphasis on social signals – such as the numbers of shares, likes and tweets that any particular URL gets. Unlike Google, social media is more fully integrated into the search results on Bing, while Bing explicitly mentions social as a ranking factor in their own webmaster guidelines:
“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.”
What this means is that you’ll need to devote some time to build out your social profiles, ensuring that you are monitoring any social mentions of your brand, widely sharing your own content and encouraging others to do so.
It’s no surprise that the link profile of a site is a crucial ranking for Bing, just as it is for Google. But, while links are important for both search engines, Bing is not as good as Google at evaluating them. What this means is that old-school, “black hat” link-building tactics can still work on Bing. But – and this is a major caveat – this doesn’t mean you should suddenly decide to drop “white hat” link building strategies and buy all your links from Fiverr; doing so will only lead to penalisation from Google and, potentially, future punishment from Bing.
In terms of link building for Bing, it’s advisable to follow the similar strategies you would for Google. This is a vast topic in-and-of itself, but you can get started by looking at these initial ways to acquire links back to your site.
However, one big difference between Google and Bing is the extent to which they rely on anchor text. In contrast to Google, Bing puts more emphasis on anchor text. But explicitly trying to sculpt anchor text on external sites can lead to penalties from Google due to their Penguin update. In order to make the most of this, you’ll want to focus on getting links with exact match anchor text from high authority sites to boost your rankings on Bing but aiming for mixed anchor text from lower authority sites.
Alongside acquiring more quality backlinks to your site, you’ll also want to ensure that any low quality or spam links are managed. This involves monitoring your site’s backlink profile and – if any low quality links are found – assessing these and adding them to a disavow list. This is a list that allows you to report any untrustworthy links to the search engine.
The strategy behind doing a disavow is the same for Bing as it is for Google; what differs is the implementation. Unlike Google, Bing only lets you disavow URLs one-by-one. For large sites with a lot of external links, manually adding each one can be a hugely time-consuming process. Luckily, there is a workaround using your Bing Webmaster API key in order to bulk upload a disavow file.
4. Technical factors
Technical SEO for Bing is pretty similar to the way you would optimise a site for Google. Ensuring that your site is fully indexed, can be easily crawled, that you’ve submitted a valid sitemap, and that all your site’s content is no more than 3 clicks from the homepage are all key considerations for both Google and Bing.
The most important first step is getting your site verified on Bing Webmaster Tools. To do this, you’ll need to login to Webmaster Tools and find your account’s verification tag. You can then copy-and-paste this meta tag between the <head> and </head> tags on your website.
Once verified, Bing’s dashboard will give you access to reports similar to those provided by Google Search Console. For example, you can check for any crawl errors and add additional sitemaps. Unlike Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools also lets you add any connected social profiles, which gives you further information about the keywords driving traffic to your social profiles and any inbound links pointing to these.
5. Bing Places for Business
Having a fully develop local SEO strategy is crucial for Bing, just like it is for Google. And, like Google, Bing offers an easy way to boost your site’s performance for local searches: Bing Places for Business. Like Google My Business, this is Bing’s own portal for managing your business’ local listing, allowing you to update your business’ address details, contact information (including social profiles) and upload engaging images of your business?
But how do you go about creating a Bing Places for Business listing? Firstly, navigate to bingplaces.com. Then, add your business listing by searching for your business’ name and location; you’ll have the option to claim a listing if it already exists. Next, you can navigate through various screens, allowing you to:
- Update your business name, website and address
- Add an appropriate business category
- Add any additional contact details, including links to your social profiles
- Include your business’ opening hours
- Upload any photos of your business
After completing this process, you’ll receive a postcard to your business address which contains a code that you can use to verify your business details. Unlike Google My Business, Bing Places for Business has much less functionality (you can’t create posts, for example), but it’s an important first step for making sure your business listing stands out when people search locally on Bing.
If you’re still unsure of how your business can benefit from Bing SEO or how to get started, get in touch with a member of our expert team and we can help you get up-and-running.