After Google, Bing is the second most used search engine in the world, with over 1 billion monthly users recorded in January 2021. It also powers Yahoo, the third biggest search engine, and AOL. All in all, that’s a big share of the market and means that Bing shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
There’s a tendency when working on SEO to focus on Google. After all, it’s the biggest and most effective search engine available and, generally speaking, much of what you do for Google will work for other search engines. But there are certain things you can do to specifically optimise for Bing, and that’s what we’ll be looking at today.
Why Optimise for Bing?
As mentioned previously, Bing, though not the largest search engine out there, covers a big chunk of the market. There’s also some evidence to suggest that website traffic obtained from Bing is more valuable, with a lower bounce rate and higher number of page views per session.
The site is more open about its ranking factors than Google, which often leaves you guessing what it actually wants. This means that, with Bing, you know exactly what to work on to improve your rankings. Whilst we do know this information, to an extent, for Google, much of the knowledge is from educated guesswork rather than actual confirmation from the tech giant.
There are a number of things Bing actually does more successfully than Google. Video, for example, is better presented on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and the advanced image search is easier to use, offering up better quality results.
Finally, Bing is excellent for voice search. This kind of search is growing across the world and one of the most popular voice-assisted AIs, Amazon Alexa, is powered by Bing.
How Bing Ranks Your Website
Overall, Bing wants to provide users with a positive experience, so most of their ranking factors are focused on this. Lots of information feeds into the search engine results, but the main ones are:
- Relevance: does the content answer a user’s questions and match their search intent?
- Quality & credibility: is the information accurate and from a reputable source?
- User engagement: do users respond well or poorly to your content?
- Freshness: is the information up-to-date?
- Location: if the search is locally relevant, are you physically near the user?
- Page load time: does your website fully load in a suitably short time?
While these are mostly similar to Google, Bing’s priorities are different in many respects. Good SEO practices will work across the board, but now we’ll look at some methods that will specifically help your Bing rankings.
How to Optimise for Bing
Claim or List Your Business on Bing Places
Like Google My Business, Bing Places is extremely useful for local businesses. It helps users find services and products nearby, and can really boost traffic to your website.
Make sure your listing is comprehensive, with all sections filled out and your location prominently displayed. As Bing takes information from third-party sources, including Facebook, it’s also a good idea to check that you’re ranking in Facebook’s local search engine too.
Set up Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools is a free resource that can help you improve your site’s performance. Once signed up, you’ll receive a host of diagnostic tools that can help you identify search terms, see user behaviour and check the mobile usability of your site. It’s similar to Google’s Analytics but some users may prefer its cleaner and less complex dashboard.
Submit your Sitemap
You may have already submitted your sitemap to Google, but have you done the same in Bing?
The sitemap helps any search engine find its way around your site, identify the hierarchy of your pages, see how they’re all connected, and check the dates of updates. You can submit your sitemap using Bing Webmaster Tools Sitemap tool or by inserting the following line into your robots.txt file, (replacing the link with your sitemap):
When creating your sitemap, there are some best practices to help Bing correctly and effectively use it, including:
- Use consistent URLs: Bing will only crawl the exact URLs listed
- Only list canonical URLs, i.e. the one you want search engines to focus on when you have duplicate content on different URLs.
- Use the <lastmod> attribute to set the date and time of the latest edit.
- Refer to your sitemap in the Robots.txt file
- Use the hreflang annotation tag to identify the same pages in different languages
- Keep your sitemap to under 50,000 URLs or 50MB (uncompressed) in size. If it’s bigger than this, you should break it down into multiple sitemaps.
Create Helpful & Informative Content for Your Users
Bing likes content that the user likes so you should always keep your website visitors in mind when creating content. In particular, focus on providing them with enough content to suitably cover a topic, and make sure that it’s unique, useful and answers questions they may have when visiting your site.
Content should also be accessible to all users, which includes those who are using different devices like mobiles and screen readers, which read your text out loud.
Focus on On-Page SEO
Backlinks are undoubtedly useful for your Bing rankings, but perhaps not as much as for Google. Instead, focus on your on-site SEO.
Evidence suggests that Bing prefers exact search phrase matches, so update your content to include relevant keywords that match user searches. If someone searches for “walking boots in Keswick”, then using the phrase “we sell walking boots in Keswick” will likely rank better than “we are a shop in Keswick selling walking boots”.
Bing also likes when you use keywords in URL slugs, headings and first paragraphs, so try to include your focus keywords in all these places (without overusing them, which is called keyword stuffing).
Build Your Social Media Presence
Unlike Google, Bing uses information from your social media presence to help decide your rankings, so it’s a good idea to build up your following, remain active, and encourage sharing and user engagement. Make sure that your social media pages all link directly to your website so that Bing knows they’re connected.
However be warned that your social media activities can also weigh against you. Buying followers or using other immoral tactics to improve your rankings is a big negative signal to the search engine and is likely to send your results plummeting.
Optimise your Site for Microsoft Edge
While you can use Bing on any browser, Microsoft claims that it works best on Microsoft Edge and will rank your website based on its appearance on that browser. Fortunately, Microsoft has come a long way since the days of Internet Explorer and Edge can now easily hold its own against the likes of Chrome and Firefox. However, there are still some instances where a website will show incorrectly on different browsers because of an incompatibility. For the best results in Bing’s rankings, check your website appearance in Edge and make sure it functions as it should.
With over a billion monthly users, Bing is to be taken seriously as a competitor to Google, and it’s well worth your time specifically optimising for this second search engine. Many SEO best-practices for Google are relevant to Bing, but there are a number of additional things you can do to boost your presence on Bing.