When did your business last update its SEO strategy? If you're still playing by last…
If Google’s threat to pull its search engine from Australia has you worried for your online business, rest assured that customers can still find your websites. It’s just a good time to review your SEO strategy to make sure your content is well optimised for the competition.
Google has become synonymous with search for most Australians – accounting for 98% of mobile search traffic and 90% of desktop searches in 2018, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Life without Google would take some adjustment, but the leading alternative – Microsoft’s search engine Bing – is the next best thing. Bing search is similar enough to Google that it should feel familiar even for people who’ve never used it before, but there are a few notable differences in the ways Bing and Google index pages.
If your websites are exclusively optimised based on Google’s rules, you could benefit from making a few tweaks to make sure you don’t lose traffic and give you a boost over your less prepared competitors.
Bing SEO vs Google SEO: key differences
The good news for marketers is that Bing and Google use most of the same ranking signals when determining which content to display in organic search, so the time and money you’ve put into optimising your business website for Google won’t be wasted.
Both search engines recognise high quality, relevant website content and punish pages that use black hat schemes like keyword spamming. Keywords, backlinks and other traditional SEO staples are also important for Bing SEO.
However, there are some differences that could impact on your site’s performance if it’s not optimised for the ranking signals that Microsoft’s search engine favours. These are the major differences you should be aware of. Some of the main differences with SEO for Bing include:
- Keyword optimisation
- Local search
- Multimedia search
- Social signals
- User experience
Google SEO has become more complex in recent years as the search algorithm has become less focused on exact match keywords and more adept at recognising user intent from related search terms. Not so for Bing, where targeting specific keywords can still help you to climb the ranks – as long as you don’t overdo it.
Also unlike Google, keywords carry weight in meta tags on Bing. Including keywords in page titles, domain names and title tags can all help you to target users for specific search terms.
Bing and Google both give a boost to local results when a user searches for products and services available nearby. The difference is that Bing prioritises location, so it’s more likely to highlight small businesses in the area than Google, which tends to display more established local businesses first.
One area where Bing is ahead of the game is its ability to search images, video, audio and other multimedia features, including page elements running Flash which Google ignores. This ‘entity understanding’ could make a big difference if your content is less text-based.
Links pointing to your pages from other websites can improve your standing on Bing, much as they do on Google. A difference is that Bing gives particular emphasis to links from older and more established sites, especially if the domain contains a .gov, .org or .edu.
Bing puts more emphasis on social media shares and influence than Google ever has. If your content gets a lot of interaction on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms – especially within a user’s own networks – these all contribute towards its search ranking.
User engagement is a ranking factor on Google, but it may hold even more sway on Bing. If your pages offer a good user experience and visitors tend to stick around, this will improve their search ranking. On the other hand, pages that are slow to load or that visitors abandon quickly can plummet down the ranks.
While Google may index every page on your website eventually, Bing focuses on key pages and indexes these less often. You can give the search engine a helping hand by tying your pages together in a good linking structure, making sure 301 redirects are in place and configuring your crawl settings in Bing Webmaster Tools.
How to optimise for Bing
In summary, you can improve your chances of reaching customers on Bing by optimising your SEO approach in these ways:
- Targeting specific keywords in content, titles, headings and meta tags
- Including your location for local search
- Including quality images and video in content
- Having at least one backlink per page, ideally from an authoritative site
- Publishing shareworthy content and encouraging social interaction
- Checking analytics to improve click through rates and user engagement
- Organising your website structure and redirects
According to Bing Webmaster Guidelines, the most important criteria for its algorithm when ranking pages are, in approximate order:
- User engagement
- Page load time
Bing also highlights certain activities that will negatively impact your search ranking and may lead to penalties, including:
- Cloaking – showing different versions of a page to users and search crawlers
- Link buying and social media schemes
- Plagiarised or duplicated content
- Machine-generated content
- Keyword stuffing and misleading page markup
- Malicious activity and harmful content
Do I need to update my website?
Whether Google reaches an agreement with news organisations, as happened in France, or it withdraws like it did from China, reviewing your website SEO to target multiple search engines will make sure you’re prepared for all eventualities.
If your site is optimised for Google alone, this won’t just mean taking a hit if the company withdraws. You’ll also be missing out on the significant minority of users that already use Bing as their default or preferred search engine, including many older internet users and users who prefer visual search.
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