Much of what people write or even think about for SEO strategy relates to Google. While Google has been and remains the 600-pound gorilla in the search engine room, Yahoo and Bing do combine for almost a third of search activity. Accordingly, it makes sense to consider all angles when it comes to optimizing your own website. Any differences you find should be considered, particularly in cases where different signals can be accommodated at the same time.
This has been both complicated and simplified by the partnerships Yahoo! has developed with each of the other two search engines. Yahoo! was for several years powered by Bing, meaning it existed without any real search results differences from those of Microsoft’s search engine. On the other hand, as of October 2015, Yahoo! has a separate agreement with Google, which means it will now be processing roughly half of its search queries through the technology of each of its competitors. Yahoo! will also use Google to power most of its mobile searches, though, making that deal potentially the more important of the two.
On the other hand, Bing got a boost of its own in 2013 when Apple replaced Google with Bing to power its search functionality. While apps are available to use Google with Apple products, this did represent a significant swing back in favor of Bing. More companies are using the technology these two competitors for their devices or their websites, and the marketplace will likely continue to change over the next several years.
While the details of these deals are complicated, it shakes out to meaning that your SEO work should be guided by an approach that ranks you well in both Google and Bing, as well as with mobile personal assistants like Siri and Cortana. Your ability to compete with others in the market gets enhanced when you open yourself up to multiple search engine opportunities. 1st in SEO builds your presence to help you rank well everywhere, and leaves no stone unturned in helping you get the most out of your online presence—no matter what people use to search.
Bing is the search engine provided by Microsoft, the child of Microsoft’s Live Search. Its predecessors include MSN Search and AltaVista. Thus, while it came into being as Bing in 2009, a fair amount of technological development came before its official arrival. Later that same year, the deal under which Yahoo! would be powered by Bing was announced, in some ways combining the two search engines into one. The companies remained competitors on other fronts, and the deal did not produce results for either quite to the extent expected.
The initial marketing push for Bing, and the results of some testing, suggested that Bing provided better results than Google. Part of this came with Bing serving as a pioneer in some of the instant answers technology. For example, you could ask Bing for sports scores and get an immediate, tailored response. Similarly if you plugged in a math equation in the search bar, it would provide the answer immediately. This instant answers technology served as a predecessor to the way virtual assistants often organize search answers today, with Siri, Cortana, and similar programs directing results first to direct, straightforward answers.
This led to a push to over a quarter of search activity for Bing, and while that has leveled off some, its market share remains over 20 percent, enough that you should not ignore it when optimizing content for your website. That share may ebb and flow over time, but it figures to retain a significant part of the search market for some time to come.
Bing claims to use over 1,000 signals to get its search results, compared to the over 200 that Google claims to use. It has not yet identified all of these, but this does present a number of potential opportunities for SEO companies to help their clients find ways to rank higher on a Bing search. Many are entirely compatible with optimizing for both engines simultaneously, with only a few differences creating potential conflict between optimizing for multiple sites.
Many of the results between Google and Bing searches are very similar, suggesting that most SEO techniques will not vary widely between Google and Bing. Both emphasize quality content and strong writing, and typically the websites that each one provides in response to a search query line up in very similar fashion—enough so that Bing has been accused on occasion of stealing information from Google. Even so, there are differences that hold some significance. Building out a site fully optimized for both search engines requires some flexibility and careful handling.
For either site, you will want to submit to the respective search engines for indexing. Bing sometimes takes longer to do this after you submit your url than Google does. In any event, submitting separately to each search engine provides a critical first step in optimizing for both.
One of the main differences between the two engines comes from keyword phrases. Google’s algorithm has done more in recent years to recognize context around keywords, as well as to pick up synonyms as related to the keywords. Bing, while it does have some contextual capabilities, still yields better results when you use exact matches for the keywords and keyword phrases. This requires some nuance in how you approach your content creation; using exact phrases as well as similar variation can hurt you if you combine for too high a concentration. Aiming for a lower exact match concentration of around one percent can leave you some room to optimize for both.
Bing places heavier importance than Google on local search optimization. This includes a difference between results for keywords with double meanings; Google defaults to the most popular page, whereas Bing defaults to a more local result first. This may be alleviated somewhat on the Google side with RankBrain’s ability to parse meaning in those situations, but for Bing, optimizing around local searches is critical. This includes building your mobile site design, and claiming your listing on www.bingplaces.com.
Similarly, Bing appears to place greater emphasis on social signals than Google does. While this is important for both search engines, it makes developing your social media marketing even more critical when you look to optimize for Bing searches. You should use your social media presence not only to create backlinks to your site, but also to reach out to your customers and their networks, providing compelling content that leads them back to you and boosts your site rankings for both Bing and Google.
Finally, Bing places a greater emphasis than Google on title tags for your site. Your rankings will increase with Bing if you have a keyword in each title tag. This requires a balancing act, though, since Google can penalize you for overuse of a keyword. You should plan to use synonyms and contextual relationships rather than adding too many more instances of the term in the body of the text, as the latter can harm you in Google while you try to help yourself with Bing.
Yahoo! functions not as an independent search tool, but rather as a search portal that operates both Google and Bing searches. It does so without specifically defining which searches will go through each engine. In other words, it can pick and choose based on which system seems to derive better results for different kinds of searches, maintaining an indirect kind of control in the market. The terms of its current Google deal run through 2018, so this set of choices should continue for a few more years.
This means that search optimization with Yahoo! is a bit of a misnomer. In a given search, it may produce results different from one or the other depending on which it is using at the time. In addition, because both are non-exclusive deals, Yahoo! may be able to add a different, additional partner at some point. It seems to be developing a role as an aggregator, taking the best performance capabilities from different tools to get what it determines to be the best results for its users.
This role could drive further synchronization between Google and Bing over time. If Yahoo! becomes more aggressive in identifying which kinds of searches call on one tool as opposed to the other, it could lead to each of them adopting approaches similar to the other over time. This can in turn create more homogeneity in the industry and less need to tailor a specific plan to fight across multiple fronts—or spawn new competitors that complicate the picture further.
For the time being, though, you are using either Bing or Google search technology when you run a search on Yahoo!, so your optimization plan should be divided between those two primary engines. Paying attention to what works best for you might give you some idea of what to expect from a Yahoo! search at any given time, but if you optimize for both Bing and Google, you have Yahoo! covered for now as well.
The differences between Bing and Google are subtle, but at times important. The temptation for many will be to optimize for Google and let the chips fall where they may. This approach may not kill you, but it will not get you the maximum potential return on your SEO investment either. The best plan is to develop a plan that takes the subtle differences into account and optimizes for both sites.
One of the easier steps toward optimization centers around mobile SEO. A responsive web design and strong content that fits a smartphone screen will perform well on both search engines. You also need to build your local SEO out; while this is particularly evident for Bing searches, mobile searches on Google also rely heavily on location-based cues. Local and mobile optimization represent a truly search engine agnostic SEO technique.
Keyword optimization, on the other hand, represents a trickier challenge. You need to optimize differently between the two, with exact match keywords for Bing and more contextual relationships for Google. To optimize for both requires some balancing, establishing a keyword concentration on the lower end of the optimal range for Bing and the higher end for Google. Further, placing more of the exact matches in title tags can do more to help with the Bing rankings, always with an eye toward avoiding harm to the Google rankings.
While Bing and Google do have important differences, each places heavy emphasis on rich, recent, quality content. Indeed, this seems to be the critical component on which everyone agrees: great writing works well with any search engine. You need to produce consistent, relevant, unique, high-quality content to succeed in your online marketing. Playing with the keyword concentrations and local content requirements can be important, but never at the expense of producing well-written material for your site.
When it comes to optimizing for different search engines, continual vigilance helps. Each of the big two has changed over time and will continue to do so. For example, several years ago Google struggled with reading video files and flash content, while Bing did this well early on. Taking advantage of Bing’s capabilities there would have made sites less effective in Google searches. Now, however, both sites work well with this type of file. In addition, both give preference to sites with video or animation, making it a good strategy to employ these visual presentations on your website.
Both engines introduce revisions to their algorithms regularly. Keeping up with either one can be a challenge; keeping up with both simultaneously can be daunting. Still, every signal you can take advantage of in your Internet marketing creates an opportunity for you to rise up someone’s site rankings, and often a responsive element to search engine development can mean you see improvements on both.
Finally, new search engine technology in the future will likely mean looking to more or different algorithms, whether they come from Google, Bing, or someone else entirely. The market moves constantly; your ability to adjust with that movement can make a huge difference in the level of success your SEO marketing campaign might bring. Finding a trusted partner to help you follow all of the changes as they occur helps immensely in this. Fortunately, that partner is not hard to find.
Navigating the waters of the two major search engines, as well as others that may come and go, can prove too much for most small business owners to handle on their own. Fortunately, 1st in SEO is here for you. We understand the ways search engines operate, and how to develop a site that is optimized for searches that occur through either of them. We work with you to create compelling content that brings in page views no matter how people look for them. We will help you build your rankings regardless of who is looking, or where.
As with all of our SEO marketing work, we focus our efforts first on getting to know you and your business. Whatever the algorithm, whatever the search engine, understanding you and presenting a unique, powerful image of your business is always paramount to us. Presenting you, in a unique, meaningful way, through multiple layers of presentation, helps your site perform well regardless of how customers try to find you. We focus on your branding and create content over time that puts that branding on display prominently and consistently, always providing a clear picture for your potential customers, and a clear, SEO-lit path for them to follow to find you.
This involves not a single moment in time, but an ongoing process. We help you create content regularly, a key to SEO success on both search engines. We will monitor your site performance in both Google and Bing, flagging and raising with you any instances of rankings that drop and identifying ways to raise them back up quickly. If a change to your site rankings moves in opposite directions—up for Bing and down for Google, or vice versa—we will investigate why it occurs and figure out how to raise the falling ranking without hurting the rise on the other. We apply our understanding of how everything works, both independently and interdependently, to help your business rise to the top where you belong.
Our SEO strategies do not rely solely on our understanding one search engine; we know them all, and will help your site perform well everywhere. We will work with you to devise comprehensive strategies that achieve powerful search ranking results on Google or Bing; on desktop, tablet, or mobile; on local searches or broader informational searches. We will get your information in front of the potential customers who need to see it.