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Don’t ignore Bing in the search race

When it comes to SEO we tend to look no further than Google. SEOs figure that as Google pretty much owns search and the other search engines are negligible. So long as websites are properly optimised for Google we’re happy. But, Bing is slowly gaining ground on Google. It currently owns around 30% of the search market – thanks largely to its merger with Yahoo. That’s still quite small in comparison to the 70-odd per cent owned by Google, but it’s not to be ignored.

Jonathan Allen (Search Engine Watch) recently wrote an article on Bing’s inroads into specific areas of search, namely financial services and retail. He cites a search by Rosetta that looked at the percentage contribution of organic clicks from Yahoo, Bing and Google between from January to May this year. The study found that Google scored only 54% in the financial services sector, with Bing picking up the rest. Google didn’t fare much better in retail, with only 60%.

This bears out a prediction made in December last year, when Adam Audette said that Bing is the search engine to watch for e-commerce sites. At that time, Audette said that SEOs who ignored Bing lost between 5% and 15% of incremental traffic and revenue. He also said that Bing is one track-minded when it comes to search, which a single determination to improve its algorithm and deliver perfectly relevant search results.

This one-track mindedness could serve it in good stead as Google is sidetracked by social ventures.

(Not that Google isn’t still focused on search, as its Panda and product search updates show.)

Audette provides several reasons why Google has every right to be wary of Bing, including:

  • Bing’s long-term strategy.
  • Bing’s innovation.
  • Bing’s financial backing thanks to Microsoft.
  • Google’s increasing commercialisation.

I’m not too sure about the last one. I don’t think that Google’s search results are likely to backspin because it wants to bump up its profits. This has less to with its No Evil policy and more to do with pride. I don’t think Google likes to be beaten at anything (I give you its battle with Facebook) and will always work hard to be several steps ahead of its competitors.

That’s not to say that I think SEOs are right to ignore Bing. I quite like Bing, to be honest. When Google plays up (and it sometimes does) I turn to Bing with confidence.

SEO for Bing

The bottom line is that because Google’s algorithm is incredibly refined, optimising for Google will go a long way towards ensuring you’re optimised for Bing.

There are some things that need particular attention if you want to rank well in Bing:

  • XML sitemaps.
  • One comprehensive RSS page.
  • And try not to rely on redirects.

Otherwise common wisdom applies:

  • Good quality content.
  • Regularly updated content.
  • Quality inbound links.
  • User-friendly URL structure.
  • Clean code.

You can get more Bing-specific SEO tips from Bing’s Webmaster Center blog

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