When it comes to optimizing a website, SEO professionals typically focus on Google. After all, it’s the world’s most popular search engine.
But what about Microsoft Bing? Is it worth optimizing your site for, as well?
Let’s see how these two search giants, Microsoft Bing (rebranded from simply ‘Bing’ in October 2020) and Google, compare.
Google vs. Microsoft Bing Market Share
One of the first distinctions between Microsoft Bing and Google is market share. According to Statista, in February 2021, Bing accounted for 6.7% of the global search market, while Google took 86.6%.
That’s pretty huge.
And while that may make it tempting to focus on Google alone, Microsoft Bing provides good conversions and has a user base that shouldn’t be ignored.
That 6.7% of search users accounts for millions who use Microsoft Bing every day.
It’s particularly important to optimize for Bing if you’re targeting an American audience. In fact, one-third of online queries in the U.S. are powered by Microsoft properties when you factor in Yahoo and voice searches.
Some have wondered over the years whether Bing is an acronym for “Because It’s Not Google.” I’m not sure how true that is, but the name does come from a campaign in the early 1990s for its predecessor, Live Search.
Another fun tidbit is that Ahrefs recently did a study on the Top 100 Bing searches globally and the #1 query searched was [Google].
Comparing Google vs. Microsoft Bing’s Functionality
From a search functionality perspective, the two search engines are similar, but Google offers more core features:
How Google & Microsoft Bing Differ in Size of Index and Crawling
“The Google Search index contains hundreds of billions of webpages and is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size.”
Even so, not even Google can crawl the entire web. That is just not going to happen.
This is why using structured data is so important. It provides a data feed about your content so Google can understand it better, which can help you qualify for rich results and get more clicks and impressions.
Microsoft Bing hasn’t released similar figures. However, this search engine index size estimating website puts the Microsoft Bing index at somewhere between 8 to 14 billion web pages.
The two engines have shared a little about their approaches to web indexing.
Microsoft Bing says:
“Bingbot uses an algorithm to determine which sites to crawl, how often, and how many pages to fetch from each site. The goal is to minimize bingbot crawl footprint on your web sites while ensuring that the freshest content is available.”
Around the same time the above statement was made, John Mueller from Google said:
“I think the hard part here is that we don’t crawl URLs with the same frequency all the time. So some URLs we will crawl daily. Some URLs maybe weekly. Other URLs every couple of months, maybe even every once half year or so. So this is something that we try to find the right balance for, so that we don’t overload your server.”
Google has a mobile-first index, while Microsoft Bing takes a different stance and does not have plans to apply a mobile-first indexing policy.
Instead, Microsoft Bing maintains a single index that is optimized for both desktop and mobile, so it is important to make sure your site experience is optimized, loads quickly, and gives users what they need.
Google has evolved into more than just a search engine with products like Gmail, Maps, Chrome OS, Android OS, YouTube, and more.
Microsoft Bing also offers email via Outlook, as well as other services like Office Online or OneDrive.
Unlike Google, however, it does not have its own operating system. Instead, it uses Windows Phone 8 or iOS on Apple devices.
Now, let’s take a look at where Bing is on par with Google – or superior.
Differences in User Interface & Tools
Google has a clean, simple interface that many people find easy to use.
So does Microsoft Bing, though; in my opinion, Bing is actually a little bit more visual.
Both search engines display useful information about related searches, images, companies, and news and do a great job of informing users of everything they need to know about a given topic.
SEO professionals love our tools and data.
Thankfully, both Google and Microsoft Bing have decent keyword research tools that offer insights into performance:
One area where I think Google falls behind is the data it provides in Google Search Console. If you want to learn how to use it, check out How to Use Google Search Console for SEO: A Complete Guide.
One of the cool feature sets in Microsoft Bing is the ability to import data from Google Search Console:
Another Microsoft Bing feature that I think beats Google is the fact that it provides SEO Reports.
According to Bing, these reports contain common page-level recommendations based on SEO best practices to improve your rankings.
The reports are automatically generated biweekly and provide tips as to what to work on or look into.
See A Complete Guide to Bing Webmaster Tools to learn more.
Microsoft Bing May Excel in Image Search Over Google
When it comes to image search, Microsoft Bing may have a leg up on Google by providing higher-quality images.
I like the filtering features in its image search, too, because you can turn titles off and search by image size, color, or type.
Test out Bing Visual Image Search, which allows you to do more with images. Check out its library of specialized skills to help you shop, identify landmarks and animals, or just have fun.
Then, see How Bing’s Image & Video Algorithm Works to learn more.
Google has more images available for viewing than Microsoft Bing. Make the most of it with the tips in A Guide to Google’s Advanced Image Search.
However, Microsoft Bing provides more detailed information about the image users are searching for.
How Microsoft Bing & Google Handle Video Search
Microsoft Bing provides a much more visual video search results page, including a grid view of large thumbnails.
Google’s video results are more standard, featuring a vertical list of small thumbnails.
Microsoft Bing also provides a preview of certain videos and clicking on them does not take you away from Bing, which is cool. From my perspective, it also provides much more information in video results.
As you can see from the screenshot of a movie search below, they include ratings and reviews, as well as the cast and even where you can watch the movie, which is great.
I did not get this experience with Google video search.
This is one area where Microsoft Bing definitely outperforms Google.
Map Listings on Both Search Engines Matter for Local SEO
Both engines have similar functionality for maps, including map listings and local listings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Make sure you claim all your listings in both Microsoft Bing and Google and optimize your profile with business information, photos, proper categories, and links.
Accurate name, address, and phone number (NAP) information are key.
See A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing.
Optimizing for Google Search vs. Microsoft Bing
Google is primarily concerned with E.A.T: Expertise, Authority, and Trust.
Google Searches are powered by machine-based algorithms that take into account users’ previous search history and location when generating results.
This means that if a particular user wants to find something specific on Google, it will be much easier than on Microsoft Bing because Google has a more complete picture of who that person is before they type anything in the browser.
Google has always been a link-orientated search engine in which the quality of links still matters instead of quantity. Links are not as important on Microsoft Bing.
In my opinion, Microsoft Bing has always been focused on on-page optimization. It puts more weight on content that is well optimized, or that includes important on-page elements like titles, descriptions, URLs, and content.
Unlike Google, Microsoft Bing states in its webmaster guidelines that it incorporates social signals into its algorithm. That means you should also focus on Twitter and Facebook – including building good quality content on your site and social platforms – if you want to rank highly in Microsoft Bing.
Content is extremely important for both search engines. Always focus on high-quality content that satisfies the user’s informational need. By creating useful and relevant content, users will naturally love it and link to it.
So, for example, if I am looking for cars, you should show me valuable content on the topic: how I can buy a car, cost, maintenance, what the shopping experience is like, etc.
Both speed, mobile-friendliness, and proper tech infrastructure matter for both engines. However, Microsoft Bing focuses more on anchor text usage. Bing has been known to reward sites with matching anchor text for a page title, which was devalued by Google many years ago.
Make sure you check out these resources for optimizing for various search engines:
- Going Beyond Google: SEO on Other Search Engines
- 7 Alternative Search Engines That Do Social Good
- Embracing Bing Search & Giving It the Attention It Deserves
- DuckDuckGo SEO: What You Should Know
Google Search vs. Microsoft Bing: The Verdict
Both Microsoft Bing and Google satisfy the informational needs of millions of people every day.
They both offer opportunities for your brand to reach new users and put you in front of millions of qualified customers who are looking for information, products, and services.
Optimizing for both search engines is similar. Microsoft Bing is more focused on on-page optimization and incorporates social signals, while Google is more focused on E.A.T. and links.
Microsoft Bing has definitely improved over the last year and is more competitive with Google, especially in its unique features.
That’s why I recommend optimizing for both, to reach the lion’s share of internet searches and maximize visibility.
- How to Use Microsoft Bing Site Explorer for SEO
- 17 Great Search Engines You Can Use Instead of Google
- How Search Engines Work
All screenshots taken by author, March 2021.