You can’t think of online search without thinking of Google first.
The synonymy is so ingrained, you don’t search for things— you Google them.
And as SEOs Search Engine Optimization is always exclusively Google Search Optimization. Other search engines simply don’t exist.
Google doesn’t give two hoots about anyone much less you.
And even if you do rank after months of efforts, producing epic content, shelling out thousands on both content and links, do you hit the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
You won’t get anywhere near the traffic you’re supposed to.
Google’s stealing traffic that’s rightfully yours
Ahrefs’ 2017 study categorized the impact of featured snippets on organic results. For SERPs with no featured snippets, the number 1 result usually gets 26% of all clicks.
With a featured snippet on top— the first-ranking result(the one immediately below the snippet) gets 19.6% clicks with the snippet capturing 8.6% clicks.
In addition to that, snippets raise the number of non-clickers by 25 to 30%.
12.29% of searches produce a featured snippet. As we speak, Google’s engineers are hard at work gathering data on usage metrics to rollout snippets on a larger scale.
We can even forgive Google for featured snippets as the traffic loss isn’t much. But there’s something even more sinister at work.
“Found on the web” references such as the one above are pulled from a number of sites predominantly for health-related queries for now. Case in point—for the image above, data is sourced from Healthline an EcoWatch.
Third-party data is used to cobble together a carousel of search results. When you click on a particular result multiple search results are presented.
Here’s an example showing an expanded result:
I found similar carousels on “best” and “review” type product queries.
Here are my results from best product searches. In this example, I searched for “best golf clubs.”
When I click on the first result from the carousel “Titliest AP2 Irons” whose data and images are sourced from two sites— 2 Golf Guys and a Business Insider what I get is this:
Google unabashedly fringes on copyright pulling data from third-party sites to create dynamic pages without due credit or links to publishers whose data it so conveniently pulls and rearranges to send more traffic to itself. For product queries, Google most likely wants to reduce the free traffic it sends to Amazon.
Whichever way you slice it if you rely on a single source of traffic the odds are stacked against you.
Which brings us to Bing.
Bing can no longer be ignored
Bing has accrued a significant share of the search engine pie.
Google has a worldwide market share of 74.8%. Bing’s worldwide market share is 8.08%.
In the US Bing has a 33% market share according to Microsoft, which amounts to 5 billion searches.
If worldwide for every 10 searches on Google one search gets performed on Bing, in the US Bing accounts for every 3 searches.
If your head’s caught in a fence, help’s near
Years ago when Penguin first released scores of sites began falling off from SERPs like dead flies.
I’m reminded of Interflora whose penalty was revoked within an amazingly-short 11 days.
Had it not been for the ensuing public interest caused in part due to huge SEO publications picking up the example would there have been such a speedy action?
For the average webmaster, such results are far from likely requiring multiple attempts for any hope of recovery, with efforts spanning months.
Even then, most don’t recover fully.
On the flipside, Bing’s support team is an email away. Mistakes happen and it’s heartening that there’s help not too far away.
Bing’s traffic converts better than Google’s
Matthew WoodWard got some exciting results with Bing. For one, traffic from the forgotten search engine converted at twice the rates from Google.
Two, they stayed longer and engaged better with the content.
Who uses Bing?
Ranking for something on Bing is even more useful if you have your buyer personas figured.
Most users on Bing are over 35. The most common age group is 55-64. At least a third of the users report $100,000 plus household incomes and spend 22% more online compared to searchers on Google.
Gen Xers and baby boomers—the core demographics— are flush with cash.
What Bing loses out in sheer user numbers, it makes up in spend
Ahrefs analyzed the top search queries on Bing for April 2019. A significant share of queries is cemented around troubles related to windows.
It might be safe to conclude they’re Windows users or use Edge browser.
You may also have noticed that there are quite a few queries from seemingly frustrated Windows 10 users looking for help.
Here are few sample searches with volumes:
# Keyword Search Volume
1 how to get help in windows 10 7,330,000
2 get help with file explorer in windows 10 2,580,000
3 fix connections to Bluetooth audio devices and wireless displays in windows 10 622,000
These three searches represent 6.9% of the combined search volume among the top 100 keywords.
Are you in niches that target baby boomers and Gen Xers? Does your product help people who aren’t tech savvy? You should be on Bing.
By the end of this section, I imagine you assume me as someone up in arms against Google.
Not true. My only goal is to drive home the benefits of distributing your eggs among many baskets. My campaign is to encourage you to discard your myopic focus and embrace change.
How to rank on Bing- the on page factor
This is the easy bit. Easy since you don’t have to beg or scare people for links. The changes you need to make are for your site. It’s entirely under your control.
On-page SEO factors like meta tags aren’t taken into account on Google but they can influence conversions.
There are three types of meta tags and optimizing for which will help you increase your organic rankings on Bing.
Overstuffing meta tags was a plump technique on Google until 2008. Stuff a page full of keywords and odds are you’ll coast to the first page. Bing’s search engine isn’t as sophisticated as Google’s. It still relies on help from webmasters in the form of meta keywords, descriptions and tags.
You will be alright with 5 meta keywords and pushing your luck with 10 or more.
It still uses keywords in the tool and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Title tags are important on both search engines. These tags importance on Google rests solely on the fact that title tags are what a potential visitor sees.
Even if it doesn’t directly influence rankings it influences perception. This is your chance to reel in a conversion.
Meta description aptly put is a summary of the page to search engines and visitors.
Google would most likely never pick up search snippet you specify in the description (sometimes they do). Google likes plucking off text from within the blog post
On Bing your meta description counts and is an important ranking signal that matters.
Ultimately, by tagging your content you let Bing crawlers, receive enough meta information to categorize and index the post well, improving your odds at ranking well.
Link to older articles and pages on fresh blog posts creating a consistent internal link structure that aids discovery and indexation. This also allows good circulation of link juice.
Finally, submit your site and sitemap to Bing.
Ranking on Bing off-page factors
Google and Bing both value backlinks as does any modern search engine.
On its face Bing and Google the way in which both search engines value links doesn’t seem any different. But reading through case studies and research reports I found that on Bing the number of links outweighs link quality.
Bing says it wants quality links but that isn’t entirely true.
Let’s understand it further.
Google’s heavy reliance on link quality is evident in sites that hog all the top spots with fewer high-quality links, even beating sites with massive link profile. The opposite rings true with Bing.
For Google, they’re much more valuable than hundreds of links made from any automated software owing to the difficulty to acquire them.
Bulking out your link profile can be an effective tactic. The risk of getting penalized on Google can be minimized to a large extent if you don’t build links from spammy domains. Second, a profile with only do follow links or quality links is suspect. A varied profile is better.
My first strategy would be in maximizing the number of links. If that doesn’t work as effectively I hoped for I’d optimize my anchors further and see what happens.
This is only to give you an idea of the kind of anchor text ratios that work on both search engines.
Bing places emphasis on domain age and you’re likely to get boost even if the domain isn’t quality but is old.
How Many Links Are Enough?
20 to 100 links per month which is generally considered aggressive on Google is perfect on Bing.
But how do you build so many do follow links especially when most of your outreach email for guest posts meets with this?
I started digging.
I wanted to know if no-follow links pass any juice on Bing.
Here’s what I found on StackExchange
Google states that their engine takes “no-follow” literally and does not “follow” the link at all.
However, experiments conducted by SEOs show conflicting results. These studies reveal that Google does follow the link, but does not index the linked-to page unless it was in Google’s index already for other reasons (such as other, non-nofollow links that point to the page). Yahoo! “follows it”, but excludes it from their ranking calculation. Bing respects “nofollow” as regards not counting the link in their ranking, but it is not proven whether or not Bing follows the link.
What did I find?
I found that perhaps you don’t need do-follow links.
I found thin sites with average link profile but lots of no-follow links outranking bigger sites in search.
I’m active in lots of Amazon niches and even though what I found isn’t based on “real” research it’s a good place to get started and find things for yourself.
I searched for Best golf clubs on Bing USA and Google USA.
This is the site that ranks on Bing USA: //www.ubergolf.net/
We’ll call it B.
This is the site that ranks first on Google USA: //www.golfdigest.com/
We’ll call it G.
Below we have B’s link profile and do-follow, no-follow percentages.
All in all there are 158 RDs and 35% do follow links. And here are those links in entirety.
In both cases the specific page doesn’t have many links that’s the reason I considered the backlink portfolio of the domain. Here is G’s link profile:
G has 91% follow links from over 18000 RDs.
Look at the no follow vs do follow ratio.
What I did can’t be clubbed as qualitative data but I saw similar results over a number of Amazon niches I’m active or interested in.
Sites ranking on Bing do well with no follow links.
You get a leeway with anchor texts
If you build anchors the wrong way you’re likely to see a dive down SERPs even if the links come from highly authoritative domains.
Bing’s guidelines state the opposite and encourage you to use optimized anchors so it’s easy for them to categorize and rank sites.
SearchMetrics reports that if you have a big link profile, the sheer quantity can swing rankings in your favor on Bing.
The same study by Searchmetrics showed that for sites sitting in the top 30 spots on Bing USA, more than half of their backlinks had keyword-rich anchors. That’s at least 53 to 55% backlinks with keyword-rich anchors.
And why wouldn’t they? Bing encourages the use of keyword rich anchors.
Bing’s guidelines, state “Carefully plan which actual words will be linked — use targeted keywords wherever possible.”
In a study conducted in the aftermath of Penguin, it was found that sites that dropped in SERPs were ones that had money keywords in their anchors for over 65% of their backlink profile.
Sites with less than 50% of money anchors were insulated from the ill-effects, almost guaranteed no harm.
Penguin didn’t so much trace bad backlinks but traced link patterns that were heavily associated with spammy link profile. Penguin targeted sites with exact match anchors.
From these findings it’s safe to assume that 50 to 52% optimization is the high-point. These numbers aren’t however set in stone. The leeway you get with anchor texts often boils down to what your competitors ranking on the first page can get away with.
What it can lead us to conclude is there’s no over optimization penalty on Bing.
If you get carried on with exact-match anchors your rankings will take a nosedive on Google. Instead use naked links, partial anchors generic keywords for your brand.
If you’re planning on copying anchor text ratios from competitors keep in mind that tools, even good ones like Ahrefs don’t index all links. Anchor text ratios should be taken with a margin of error.
Use Social Media signals to boost rankings
Bing’s guidelines state that their algorithm considers “Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.”
The same Searchmetrics report quoted earlier found that social metrics strongly correlate with higher rankings on Bing.
To sum up,
It’s harder than ever to rank on Google. And the results are continually dismal. But that doesn’t mean we can boycott Google.
The goal is to rank well on both Google and Bing and not to rank on one and sit out the other. Combined, both search engines would result in massive amounts of traffic.
Bing is much farther behind Google in search engine evolution and hasn’t inherited the complexity or booby traps that characterizes the bigger search engine. Unlike Google, Bing doesn’t mind if you ask other sites for links, as long as those sites are reasonably authoritative.
To sum up,
- For Google, focus on very high-quality links.
- For Bing, the number is greater than the quality. Build no-follow links, you might rank well.
- Optimize metadata
- Submit site to Bing webmaster tools.
The difference between how the two search engines have structured their results boils down to the number of users they have.
On Google the landscape is competitive and hence they use a number of filters to make their job easier and our job difficult. They’re in a position to dictate terms, steal traffic and content and get away with it.
Bing is simpler, less competitive and no one’s trying too hard to rank on it. There’s your opportunity.
What do you think?