When it comes to search engine optimization, the conventional wisdom is that all businesses should focus on Google results. That’s true, to an extent. Google is, overwhelmingly, the world’s most popular search engine with something like 1.17 billion daily users as of 2012.
However, Google is not the world’s only search engine. While Microsoft’s Bing significantly trails Google in users, there’s also significantly less competition on the platform. For that reason, many online companies optimize for Bing as well as Google.
In this article, I’ll talk about which companies should optimize for Bing, and what the best way to go about it is. Note that anything I say about Bing here is probably true of other online search services.
So why should you invest time and money into SEO for Bing? There are three big reasons:
While Bing trails Google overall in users, it is more popular in certain demographics. In particular, many people over the age of 50 prefer Bing to Google. This is because it’s the default search engine for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. There are also slight regional differences, with Bing and Yahoo being more popular in the Southern United States.
Bing’s algorithm is significantly different from Google’s and benefits some businesses more than others. In particular, Bing gives businesses more points for location and established longevity than Google. The same goes for websites—Bing generally prefers those that have been around longer. So if your business has been around for a while, or if it has a particularly convenient location, you might benefit more from Bing.
However, the biggest reason to optimize for Bing has nothing to do with its users. Instead, the best reason to optimize for Bing is that Google changes their search algorithm frequently. Thus, businesses that were once ranked highly might find that ranking fall overnight. By optimizing for Bing, you create a backup plan in case that happens.
On the other hand, there are certain reasons you might not want to prioritize Bing searches.
At the risk of stating the obvious, many demographics just don’t use Bing. In particular, companies looking to market their products to teenagers and young adults should look elsewhere. The same is true of companies based on the West Coast, where Bing has a much lower market presence.
The good news about optimizing for Bing is that it’s similar to optimizing for Google. Having a clean, high-quality landing page is still the key to SEO, regardless of the platform. Many of the factors that Google looks at to improve its user experience will be common to all search services.
However, there are a few differences to be aware of.
One of Bing’s most innovative features is that it incorporates social media into its algorithm. In other words, if your friends make Facebook posts about a certain website, that website will rank higher in your search results. Thus, if you want to optimize for Bing, its important to have a strong social media presence for your company.
While Google also considers social signals, Bing prioritizes them in a different way. You might consider tracking your Bing versus Google traffic after high-performing social posts to figure out what works best for you.
In recent years, Google’s algorithm has gotten extremely sophisticated when it comes to context. This applies to both understanding permutations of keywords, and the context of your website as a whole. That’s part of the reason that Google SEO is so complicated from a business perspective.
Bing’s algorithm, by contrast, has lagged behind a few years. While this may not be ideal from a user perspective, it does make things easier for you. In essence, SEO on Bing is still about specific keywords and links to other webpages. An emphasis on back linking can improve your search results on Bing more than on Google. In fact, Bing’s algorithm will sometimes entirely refuse to display pages that lack outside links.
Ultimately, your decision to Bing or not to Bing will probably come down to your audience. If your business benefits from an older customer base, you should absolutely optimize for Bing. If, on the other hand, your business markets itself towards young people, you might not see as much of a return on your investment.
That being said, it’s never a good idea to prefer Bing optimization to Google optimization. Put another way, all businesses should optimize for Google, even if their customers use Bing. Fortunately, the things that improve your Bing results are generally neutral or positive for your Google ranking.
As always with SEO, the actual best advice is to focus on creating quality content. While Google and Bing’s algorithms have their differences, both ultimately rank websites based on how useful they are to consumers. A beautiful, useful web-page that loads well will experience success regardless of which platform it is optimized for.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.