6 Ways Bing is the Opposite of Google and What to Do About It

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6 Ways Bing is the Opposite of Google and What to Do About It

Search has been synonymous with Google for over a decade and a half. Even as search marketers, we are guilty of focusing a disproportionate amount of our time and resources into optimizing our campaigns, websites, and social media to Google. Google dictates what is acceptable and shape content strategies, campaign messaging, even business models.

However, even if Google does dominate nearly three-quarters of all search traffic, we cannot afford to ignore the leftover 25%. In fact, as marketers who hunt down every single percentage point growth in traffic, conversion, and market share, it’s our job to ensure not a single user is left unnoticed and unattended.

This is where Google’s only real challenger enters the picture. Say hello to Bing.

In many ways, Bing was painted as everything Google was not. While it unfortunately did not live up to that promise completely, many strategies for Bing are different from conventionally accepted SEO wisdom – wisdom that is designed nearly entirely on Google’s search algorithms. So, let’s take a look at what sets these two behemoths apart and how to navigate those tricky situations as an SEO professional.

#1 – Reading Between the Lines

Bing is often accused of being too literal for words. The focus on anchor text, keywords, title tags, H1, H2, tags and the like makes Bing seem like Google was about five years ago. The result is user intent is often missed for the actual words being typed in.

Google, on the other hand, changed the way users search with its Hummingbird update in that introduced semantic search. Google identifies natural language patterns and returns results based on the context of the words being keyed into the search bar, and not just the words themselves. Google understands and picks up synonyms, as well as the relationships between keywords instead of focusing on individual keywords.

Balancing Bing and Google

The first step is to get your on-page SEO spot on. Basics like getting your keyword(s) in the page title and headers, ensuring your keywords are visible throughout your page, optimizing your meta descriptions, alt tags, and so on will help ranks in both Bing and Google.

Even if the largest chunk of your time is spent optimizing for Google, make it a point to carve out time for Bing by tracking keywords specific to Bing, tracking your ranking purely for Bing, and so on. Just make sure you don’t get carried away and overstuff your page with keywords – Bing may like keywords, but Google sure will punish you for trying spammy tactics.

#2 – The Backlinks Story

Google’s hallowed PageRank algorithm was based upon the number and quality of backlinks a site receives from other sites. Google counts each ‘clean’ backlink as an ‘upvote’ in the favor of the site. The higher the authority of the sites linking back to your site, the better your search rankings.

In contrast, Bing’s focus on backlinks is not as intense as Google. Yes, you do need backlinks from other sites to rank well, but the quality of sites that link to you trumps quantity with Bing. There are other factors related to the backlinks that count even more. The inbound anchor text needs to exactly or at least partially match your keywords for your backlinks to even count. This is not the case with Google. In fact, Google’s Penguin update was a direct attack on spammy backlinks and over-optimization of keywords and anchor text.

Balancing Bing and Google

So if the quantity of your backlinks matter to Google, give it to them. Work on getting as many valid and clean backlinks as possible. The authority of sites that link back to yours is equally important to both Bing and Google, so work on creating content that even high authority sites won’t mind linking back to. Lastly, since inbound anchor text in your backlinks is so important to Bing, try to get exact match anchor text from high authority sites. Balance these out with non-exact match backlinks from lower authority sites to keep a possible Penguin penalty at bay.

#3 – Crawl Depth

A persistent issue with Bing is that its bots do not read through your entire page to find a relevant keyword. Apparently around 100 kb at the beginning of a web page is what they normally scour. This stands in contrast with Google bots that scan through all the contents of your page – the good, bad and ugly – before making a decision about your search ranking.

When you submit your website to a search engine for being indexed, you probably expect your entire sitemap to find a place in its directories. This does happen with Google, but in the case of Bing, chances are only your homepage will be indexed. The only way the rest of your pages stand a chance of being indexed is if they carry at least one backlink from a high authority site.

Balancing Bing and Google

This one’s pretty straightforward. To stay on the radars of both Google and Bing, make sure you introduce your money keywords near the beginning of your page. Important backlinks ought to find a place near the top of the page to ensure findability by Bing, too. When you start building out your backlink profile, don’t only focus on your homepage. Build high quality links from respected websites to inside pages too. This does not just ensure visibility to your internal pages, it also helps improve your domain authority with Bing.

#4 – Freshness Lowers Authority

This may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, but Bing is a firm believer in the adage Old is gold. Sites that sport popular content and that have been around for a while win in the ranking stakes on Bing. The logic here is to reward authoritative content so users get the most accurate answers to their search queries. Another reason for older content getting higher ranks is that Bing takes its time to refreshes site indices, with refreshes happening about once in three months. Once a site is established in Bing’s algorithms as a high authority site, it will be a while before a fresh crawl reveals newer or more authoritative content to take its place.

On the other hand, fresher is nearly always better with Google. Google’s algorithms are tuned to find and display the latest content, all other factors like content relevance, domain authority, link profile, etc. remaining the same.

Balancing Bing and Google

It’s clear that both Bing and Google rank high quality and authoritative content higher than spammy content. So it goes without saying that you need to continually create strong, relevant content that matches the basic ranking criteria for both sites. As long as you publish a steady stream of excellent content, you will rank well on Google. The very fact that your content is good and well-regarded by other sites (strong backlinks) will help you rank well on Bing. Easy peasy!

#5 – Multimedia Rules on Bing

One of the first things that hits you on the Bing homepage is the invariably stunning image of the day that graces the page. Bing takes this same keen eye for aesthetics a little further and builds it into its search. Google is primarily a text driven search engine, which makes sense of images based on the Alt tags that are attached to the images while coding the page. Google bots can’t even see Flash or make any sense of it, which has led to the demise of this once popular website design element.

At the other end of the spectrum is multimedia savvy Bing, which has a much deeper understanding of images, Flash, videos, and their ilk. Bing’s algorithm relies on its ‘entity understanding’ capabilities to recognize what a particular image means or depicts in the overall context of the search query. This translates to more relevant image results on Bing with fewer duplicates or exact matches.

The autosuggest options on Bing’s image search are persistent (unlike Google) at the top of the page as you scroll below the fold.

Bing Autosuggest

Recognizing the image-centric nature of social media today, Bing leverages images from social media for a richer and more relevant set of image results.

Bing Autosuggest

Balancing Bing and Google

Even though Bing is adept at recognizing and serving up Flash results, you’d do well to avoid Flash in general, considering Google’s absolute inability combined with its gigantic market share. However, Bing offers you a whole picture book of reasons to include crisp, striking, and relevant images across your site. Even if your text content doesn’t rank you very high, your images stand a much stronger chance. While you’re at it, make sure you include alt tags and meta descriptions on your images to keep poor Google happy too.

#6 – Social Signals are Definitely a Big Deal

Google has traditionally flip-flopped on the importance of social media to its SERP rankings. Matt Cutts went so far as to pretty much deny social media had any role to play at all in Google’s scheme of things. While this claim has been disproved to a large extent by empirical evidence, the official stance remains that social media is not a huge ranking factor for Google.

Bing differs distinctly from Google in this regard. It doesn’t just use social signals like shares, tweets and overall popularity as ranking factors, it even integrates results from social media into its search results. Research by Search Metrics corroborates this inference by placing social signals as one of the top five ranking factors for Bing.

Bing Search Results

Balancing Bing and Google

Social media is here to stay. Even if Bing gave no importance to social media signals, you’d still probably spend a large chunk of your time and efforts on your social media marketing. However, with Bing placing clear importance on social media and Google offering social media the respect it deserves via search rankings (if not in words!), you definitely need to work on making your social media contribute to your SEO.

Let’s say you created an online survey on social media asking users to pitch in with their favorites from your product line. Now, user surveys are a great way of gathering firsthand information that can be applied to improve your site offerings. So why limit the responses to just your fans on social media? You would want this content to surface on relevant web searches, right?

Include URLs to your content in your social media posts, promote your content marketing on social media via both paid and organic posts and work on building a strong social footprint for that authority to rub off on your search rankings.

In Closing

Bing was introduced with huge fanfare and high hopes by Microsoft in 2009, in an attempt to grab a chunk out of Google’s search advertising business. Even though Bing has not ended up being the Google killer it set out to be, it still represents a large chunk of users you cannot afford to ignore. While your SEO efforts must be focused more heavily on Google, don’t forget to make the simple tweaks discussed above for a more comprehensive presence for your brand across the World Wide Web.

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author for Search Engine Journal
All screenshots taken on 03-24-2015

Pratik Dholakiya

Pratik Dholakiya

Co-Founder at E2M
Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder of E2M, a digital marketing agency and Preceptist.com, an executive branding & content marketing agency. Pratik has been featured on... Read Full Bio
Pratik Dholakiya
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