With the vast majority of the world’s digital marketing efforts directed at improving rankings on that king of all search engines, “search engine optimization” may as well be called “Google optimization.”

As modern marketers, it’s easy to forget that Bing, the second most popular search engine in the world, even exists. But if you neglect this slice of the search engine world entirely, you’re missing out on a lucrative opportunity to expand your reach to a broader audience, boost search traffic, and drive conversions.

If you — like many marketers — haven’t given Bing optimization much thought, this guide is for you. Read on to learn about SEO for Bing, including the benefits, key differences from Google, and powerful 2018 Bing optimization strategies.

Why You Should Optimize Your Site for Bing

Image via Flickr by michperu

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Microsoft unveiled Bing in 2009 in an effort to compete with Google. In 2010, Bing also began powering Yahoo Search. Even after the merger, Bing has remained largely overlooked by marketers going after Google. If you’re among the many webmasters who don’t give Bing a passing thought, here are just a few compelling reasons you should incorporate Bing into your marketing strategy:

  1. Reach a third of U.S. search market. Together, Bing and Yahoo represent more than 30 percent of the market share for search in the U.S., 23 percent in the U.K., and 16 percent in Canada. In addition, Bing processes the majority of searches in certain industries, including education, telecommunications, and automobiles, and is more likely to receive traffic from certain types of users, such as the politically conservative. By optimizing for Bing, you have a chance to put yourself in front of 1.23 billion global visitors to Bing each month —prospective customers who many of your competitors may be neglecting.
  2. Leverage lower competition. Your competitors are busy investing all their efforts in Google SEO, giving you an opening to land a higher spot in Bing search rankings. While it can take up to 12 months to see desired results from SEO efforts on Google, the pay-off from Bing may be quicker because there are fewer sites fighting for a spot on page one.
  3. Benefit from transparent guidelines and free tools. While Google is notoriously secretive when it comes to offering up details on improving SEO, Bing is relatively upfront with information on how you can boost your ranking. For webmasters, Bing offers startup help and how-to guides, along with free tools for reporting, diagnostics, mobile optimization, and more.
  4. Diversify. The adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” applies to SEO as much as other aspects of running a business. If you have optimized your sites on both Google and Bing, you’ll be protected in the event that Google alters its algorithms in a way that causes your ranking to drop. Even as your visibility plummets on Google, you’ll still be able to reach audiences on Bing and Yahoo.
  5. Capitalize on higher conversion rates. Google Analytics reports have show that Bing has higher conversion rates. Compared to Google’s 16.5 percent conversion rate, Bing and Yahoo have a conversion rate of around 20 percent. This may be, in part, because Bing and Yahoo’s average users are older and may have more expendable income.

How Bing SEO Differs From Google SEO

Beginners to Bing SEO may be relieved to learn that most Google SEO strategies also apply to Bing. As with Google, popular brands tend to rank higher on Bing. Both search engines value quality content, backlinks, strategically located keywords, and mobile friendliness. That said, although the two search engines share many similarities, there are some key differences between Bing and Google SEO to note:

  • Website preferences. Compared to Google, Bing tends to rank official .gov, .org, and .edu sites higher than commercial and popular websites.
  • Social signals. While Google insists social signals aren’t a direct ranking factor, Bing openly stresses the importance of social media. According to Bing, the search engine interprets social shares as positive signals that can improve your ranking.
  • Multimedia emphasis. Whereas Google generally depends on text-based content, Bing places comparatively greater value on images, audio, video, and other multimedia content. Bing is also better able to understand Flash-based sites than Google.

How to Optimize Your Site for Bing

Convinced that Bing SEO is worth your marketing efforts? Here are five best practices for Bing optimization to get you started:

  1. Ensure your pages are indexed. To build traffic, indexation is the first step. You can find out if your pages are indexed by visiting Bing and typing “site:yoursite.com” into the search bar. If your site hasn’t been indexed, you yourself can register your site with the search engine. Using Webmaster Tools, you can also submit your sitemap and instruct Bing to crawl your site regularly.
  2. Focus on quality content. Bing values content as much as Google, and emphasizes the importance of offering “clear, deep, easy to find content” if you want your page to rank well. Bing specifies three characteristics of quality content: authority, utility, and presentation. First, content should be trustworthy and include author and citations. Second, content should be useful to the reader and explain the subject matter thoroughly. Finally, content should be well-formatted and presented, so users can easily distinguish between your content and any ads. Bing warns webmasters to avoid going heavy on affiliate links, ads, and “thin content.”
  1. Build backlinks. Bing, like Google, interprets links pointing to your site as positive signals and relies on them to find new pages on your site. Compared to Google, Bing seems to place more value on organic links from older, established sites and .edu, .org, and .gov. domains. Like Google, Bing tends to penalize sites for paid links, reciprocal links, and links from spammy sites.
  1. Up your social media strategy. As mentioned, Bing openly emphasizes the importance of your social media influence. Focus on engaging with your social media channels to earn shares, likes, and tweets while avoiding black hat social media techniques like buying likes or writing fake reviews.
  1. Utilize Bing Webmaster tools. Open a Bing Webmaster Account, and you’ll get access to a treasure trove of analytics tools. Take advantage of tools like the Keyword Research Tool, SEO Analyzer, and Mobile Friendliness Tool to seamlessly review backlinks, keywords your site is ranking for, and much more.

For all their differences, Google and Bing share more similarities when it comes to values and best practices. Both prize quality backlinks, mobile optimization and — perhaps most importantly of all — engaging, original, relevant content.

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