When it comes to search engine marketing, people almost always talk about Google. If you do simple searches for guide to Google and guide to Bing, you will find a staggering difference of 3.7 million results vs. 38 thousand results. While most businesses get the majority of their search traffic from Google, you can’t put all of your search engine optimization eggs in the Google basket – plenty of website owners have been affected by Google’s algorithm changes, some to the point that they have lost most of their traffic. This means that until they regain their position in Google search, they have to rely on traffic from other search engines such as Bing. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can ensure your website is optimized for Bing.
How Bing Search Works
Bing has a lot of similar features to Google – you have your web results, image results, video results, and maps results. The top ten web search results will contain a mixture of ads at the top of the fold and, when applicable, local search results, media results, and news results.
Bing search results with local listings.
Some subjects will also have additional details in a format similar to the Google knowledge graph to the right of search results. In addition, Bing also offers a very strong social component that will show people’s Twitter, Facebook, and Klout profiles, pull in information from LinkedIn profiles, show latest tweets about the subject, and for those logged into Facebook, a list of their friends updates that match that subject.
Bing’s version of the knowledge graph, powered by social media.
Their social search component, a feature unique to Bing, will pull in results from Twitter, your Facebook friends (when connected to your account), Quora, and blogs about your search query. Its just another way that Bing shows searchers how important social media signals are to their search results.
Optimization Tips from Bing
Bing offers a comprehensive Webmaster Help & How-To Center to guide website owners in the proper ways to build a website that their search engine will love. If you’re looking for advice on how to optimize your website to be found and indexed within Bing, you will want to turn to the Webmaster Guidelines. In a nutshell, they note the following as important factors.
- Getting indexed is the first step in ranking well on Bing. Your website can be discovered by other links pointing to it or through the use of Submit URL and Sitemap Upload in Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Bing is looking for quality content. Websites that are thin on content and heavy on ads, affiliate links, or otherwise have a main goal of sending visitors to other websites tend not to rank well.
- Links help Bing discover new pages on your website as well as help Bing assess the popularity of your website. They discourage participation in link farms, link spamming, and excessive link manipulations.
- Bing considers social shares of your content as positive signals, which can have an impact on how your content ranks organically.
Bing considers search engine optimization (SEO) a valid practice when it is not taken to extremes and abused. They consider the following as main areas to focus on when optimizing your website.
- Tags: title (65 characters long), meta description, alt, and H1
- Internal links, external links, and social sharing buttons.
- Crawlability: sitemaps, clean navigational structure, clean URL structure, and an accessible robots.txt.
- Content: built based on keyword research, satisfies visitors expectations, and produced frequently.
- Links: planned link generation, internal and external link management, and careful use of anchor text.
Last, but not least, they list some specific things to avoid. These include cloaking (creating one version of your website for the Bingbot and another for visitors), link schemes, social media schemes, meta refresh directs, and duplicate content.
Bing Marketing Tools
Google isn’t the only search engine to offer a great set of tools for webmasters. Bing Webmaster Tools has an entire suite to help you get traffic from Bing, find out why people come to your website, and show you what needs to be improved on your website. All of their tools are free - you just need to create a Microsoft account to get started.
Once you have added your website, you will be able to access the following data, reports, and tools.
In your Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard, you will be greeted by your site’s overall activity in Bing search, including clicks from search, impressions, pages crawled, crawl errors, and pages indexed. Beneath this table, you will see an overview of your sitemap status, top search keywords, and inbound links.
Configure My Site
This section allows you to control various aspects of your website on Bing, starting with the ability to submit your site to Bing and add sitemaps. You then have the option to tell Bing to ignore specific URL parameters, block certain deep links (sitelinks in Google), block URLs, and disavow links that could be harmful to your link profile. You can block page preview images, geo-target specific URLs, verify ownership of your site, and add users who need access to your Bing Webmaster Tools. You can also add connected pages to your website. For example, you can link your business’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other official profiles with your website.
Reports & Data
This is the section most webmasters will be interested in. You can start with your Page Traffic report (as shown above) which will show you which pages on your website receive the most traffic from Bing. You can click the View link under the Search Keywords column to see what keywords specifically drove visitors to related pages. Alternatively, you can also go to the Search Keywords report to see the top keywords and then view the pages associated with them.
Other reports and data in this section include the Index Explorer (shows the structure of your website as indexed by Bing), SEO Reports (shows any optimization issues that needs to be fixed), Inbound Links (backlink data sorted by pages with the most links), Crawl Information (page errors the Bingbot has run into), and Malware (any infected or harmful elements on your website).
Diagnostics & Tools
Inside this section, you will find Bing’s Keyword Research Tool (as shown above), which can help you find out query volumes for specific keywords and phrases. You’ll also find Link Explorer (a simple backlink research tool), Fetch as Bingbog (how your website code appears to Bing), Markup Validator (structured markup and rich snippet testing tool), SEO Analyzer (check page for on-site optimization issues), Verify Bingbot (check an IP address to see if it’s a bot), and Site Move (tell Bing that your website is moving).
Last, but not least, you’ll find your inbox for messages about possible website issues and the Webmaster API for those who want to connect their data into other tools, apps, and services.
Whether you are looking for alternative sources of traffic, or simply want to learn SEO from a new perspective, Bing is definitely a great search engine to turn to. From their simple to understand Webmaster Help Central to their comprehensive suite of tools, you’ll be able to help your website perform better in Bing as well as other search engines.
Do you optimize your website for Bing or use Bing Webmaster Tools? What kind of results have you seen?