Marketing experts tend to only focus on search optimization for Google for obvious reasons – Google is the number one search engine. But it doesn’t mean that it is the end all of search engines. As a matter of fact, if your website has been dinged by Google’s algorithmic changes, then ranking in other search engines will be highly valuable. In this post, we’re going to look at why you should consider optimizing for Bing, how to do it, and where you can measure your efforts.
comScore’s search engine rankings show that Bing receives 17.3% of searches in the U.S. as of April 2013. While that may not sound like much, that percentage has been growing each year, and it’s doubled since 2009. And if you combine that with Yahoo’s share of 12% (since Yahoo is powered by Bing), then you have a total bordering 30%.
Another thing you have to take into account are non-traditional search engines that are using Bing. The key one is Facebook, the world’s number one social media network. Mark Zuckerberg boasted that Facebook receives 1 billion queries per day. When Facebook can’t answer the query, they return Bing search results instead. Facebook Graph Search shall do the same.
You also can’t deny Bing’s growth in sheer traffic alone. Quantcast shows that visitors from the U.S. are steadily increasing.
They also show you the average demographics of people visiting Bing.
Bing also appeals to general internet consumers with a visually appealing interface, integration with Facebook in search results, and fun commercials.
How to Optimize for Bing
Bing lays out the basics for webmasters who want help in making sure their websites are indexed and discoverable in Bing search results in their webmaster guidelines. Much of it is similar to Google’s own guidelines.
- They love quality content.
- They use links to discover new content.
- They penalize websites that abuse the system with paid links, link schemes, link farms, three way linking, and other excessive link manipulation.,
- They like websites that load quickly and have accessible robots.txt and sitemap files.
- Use of Flash and other rich media may block the Bingbot from indexing your content.
- Canonical tags should be use to help Bing determine which version of a URL is the original when multiple URLs exist.
- On-site optimization helps Bing find and classify content. The top tags include title (65 characters), meta description (160 characters), alt, and h1.
- Internal links and links to trusted external resources are encouraged.
- Clean URLs without extraneous parameters, clear content hierarchy from the homepage, and easy to follow navigation (including breadcrumbs and link lists) are key to good site structure.
- Keyword usage in content and internal link anchor text helps Bing determine content focus.
The major difference between Bing and Google Webmaster Guidelines is the focus on social optimization. Bing specifically notes that social media plays a role in ranking well in search results. Social influence is a positive signal that can have an impact in how you rank in Bing. Bing specifically mentions that you should be encouraging social sharing on your content and that you should follow fewer people than are following you in order to indicate a stronger influence.
Bing also has a dedicated page to link building information. It covers their views on reciprocal link building (ok in some circumstances, but not most), paid links (ok for traffic but not to influence organic search), and link farms (spot one by asking yourself if you would tell a Bing representative about the link).
They suggest ways to build links through creating engaging content, encouraging social sharing, and giving visitors copy and paste code snippets to use on their own websites. They also remind you that a few quality links will go a long way compared to thousands of low-quality ones that alert search engines that you are paying for links.
If their Webmaster Guidelines aren’t enough, they also provide forums to discuss search and great content in their blog about optimizing your website for better rankings on Bing. The following are two great articles to start with.
They even have a great sense of humor, as shown by their April Fool’s post on the new The SEO Tag that lets webmasters tell Bing where to rank their site in search.
Using Bing Webmaster Tools
Just like Google, Bing allows webmasters to use their free Webmaster Tools to learn more about your website’s presence on Bing. You can use Bing Webmaster Tools to configure your website’s site maps, submit URLs, ignore URLs, disavow links, geo-target, and verify ownership.
Bing Webmaster Tools gives you reports for your website including Page Traffic, which shows your search visibility, click through rate, and average position on Bing.
Other reports include a list of your inbound links, on-site optimization suggestions, keywords in search, and crawl information.
Bing also provides diagnostics and tools. The keyword research tool allows you to see the approximate search volume for a particular keyword / phrase plus similar ideas. The link explorer tool allows you to see the backlinks for any URL and filter them by site or anchor text. The SEO Analyzer allows you to take a visual tour through your website to see on-site optimization suggestions. They also have additional tools to see your site as Bingbot sees it, validate your markup code, and tell Bing that you have moved pages or your enter website to a new URL.
As you can see, Bing has a lot to offer and some very good stats to prove that it is worth the effort. Are you optimizing for Bing?