We hear a lot about Google analytics, algorithms, and charmingly-named updates like Hummingbird, Penguin, and Panda. However, Google is far from being the only player in the search engine landscape. Catering to Google searchers may help you target the lion’s share of online traffic, but it also places you in an overwhelmingly crowded space where competition is stiff and requirements are stiffer.
Don’t miss out on your chance to capture traffic from alternative sources such as Bing. Learning how to tailor your SEO strategies for this audience can give you valuable access to a fresh source of online visitors.
Get Indexed Early and Often
Image via Flickr by myhsu
If you’re building a new site, don’t wait for Bing to crawl your pages on its own. Make sure your webpage is properly indexed as soon as things are up and running by submitting it to Bing on your own. This is quick and painless, so there’s no excuse for skipping this step. Using Bing’s webmaster tools, you can also customize how often you want Bing to crawl to your site, and thus your site’s indexing frequency. You can even choose the time of day, if you have a preference for that.
Clean up Your Sitemap
A sitemap is an essential tool for driving traffic to your website. Bing demands a clean sitemap if you want this search engine to favor you with its traffic. There’s only a one percent allowance for “dirt.” This is anything that shouldn’t be there, such as a 404 error message, 500 code, or redirect. If more than one percent of your sitemap includes such junk, you’ll suffer a penalty.
Take the time to create a clean, current sitemap. Include links to all the pages on your website. You can provide bots with additional tools for evaluating your website by including details such as tags and the frequency of your updates. Include the path to your sitemap in your robots.txt or submit it directly to Bing.
Drive Social Signals
Bing puts heavy emphasis on social signals that point toward a page. If your page has a high number of shares, likes, and Tweets, it will generally perform better on Bing than a comparable page with less social activity. Bing prioritizes social signals more than Google does, so it’s important to keep your social media strategy in mind when you’re developing SEO for Bing.
To increase your chances of ranking high on Bing, make sure you push your pages in the appropriate social media channels. Build a following on Facebook and Twitter and share your content regularly via these channels. Traffic that you gain through social shares will ultimately boost your rankings with Bing.
Build Valuable Backlinks
Valuable backlinks are important for any SEO strategy, so make sure you’re including these regardless of the search engine you’re targeting. Bing is following suit behind Google and evaluating the relevance and value of links in a similar manner. Quality is more important than quantity.
Bing cautions against buying links or working with link farms. The search engine will detect sites that post links for a short period of time and cycle through a variety of link offerings on a regular basis. This indicates a company that’s likely selling links to increase customers’ SEO. Links like these are far less valuable than those that are obtained organically. Ideally, you’ll build links from reliable, well-established sites that genuinely value your content and want to direct traffic to it. Bing seems to favor sites with an .edu or .gov extension, so encourage traffic from these if you can.
Identify Relevant Keywords
Bing still looks for links that contain relevant keywords in the anchor text. Identify the top performing keywords for your company or industry and work to include these in backlinks that are pointed at your site. Google places less emphasis on keyword use, so adopting this strategy is something you may need to get accustomed to when you’re working with Bing.
Include these keywords in other high-priority places as well. Bing looks for exact match keywords in H1 and H2 title tags and meta descriptions. Once you’ve pinpointed the keywords that you want to push, work them into your content as often as you can while still keeping your approach readable, sensible, and appealing. While you do want to tailor to the search engine’s preferences, keep in mind that any content you build should carry value for the reader, or you’ll never land those organic links and shares we mentioned previously.
Add Rich Media and Imagery
Bing loves media. While Flash is a major stumbling block for Google, Bing has no trouble reading this type of content and using it to rank your site. If your site is heavy on Flash, Bing is the search engine that you should be optimizing for, as your site will perform far better in this landscape. To further enhance your results, create a separate sitemap for your Flash content to make it even easier for Bing to crawl.
Bing places high value on high-quality images. When a user looks for a specific product on Bing, he or she is given the opportunity to filter image results. This can help your product images rank successfully and reach searchers who are looking for something specific, such as a purple leather purse or green women’s shoes.
Emphasize Local Details
Bing favors local content, delivering results that are physically close to the user above those that are located farther away. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, make sure Bing knows where it is. Include these details prominently on your site and register with the Bing Business Portal to claim your location and attach the associated web page. Keep all details and contact information consistent across the web for the best results.
Bing is a powerful search tool that you can’t afford to ignore. Don’t put your focus exclusively on the behemoth of Google when you may do better with Bing. Use these tips to rank highly with searchers on this site.