Twenty years ago there were dozens of search engines serving up curated results. However, when Google launched in 1998, its focus on relevance left rivals like Lycos and AltaVista far behind. Despite a series of mergers and acquisitions, other search engines failed to replicate the efficiency of Google’s web crawlers or the effectiveness of its ranking algorithm. And one by one, the likes of AOL and Excite bit the dust.
Nowadays you’d be forgiven for thinking Google is the only search engine in the English speaking world. The word ‘Google’ has become a verb, and the internet is awash with articles about how to optimize your Google search ranking. Yet this ignores the elephant in the room – Microsoft’s Bing engine. The company behind Windows and Edge also knows a thing or two about the internet, and Bing has enough distinguishing characteristics to have survived alongside its larger rival. Indeed, recent statistics suggest its market share is slowly increasing, while profits are also on the up.
So should you consider Bing when creating online content or launching/redesigning a website? The simple answer is ‘absolutely’. Nobody can agree on Bing’s market share, but it’s estimated that a fifth to a third of desktop searches in America use either Bing or Yahoo (itself powered by Bing’s algorithm). Globally, market share for Bing is placed at around 9%. That’s a huge volume of searches, especially considering how heavily we rely on search engines for information nowadays.
The same, but different
The Google and Bing interfaces look very similar. The former changes its logo on a daily basis, while the latter changes its background image just as frequently. Both have minimalist home pages, capable of delivering millions of results within a second of hitting Return. Yet there are some key differences, explaining why a company’s Google search rank doesn’t necessarily correlate with its Bing ranking:
#1. Bing’s web crawlers only scan the first 100 kilobytes of a web page, meaning that keywords and important points need to be front loaded for optimal SEO benefits. Google used to stop after the first 100kb as well, but now reviews more of each page.
#2. Bing is more likely to rank a homepage over sub-pages. Again, this means it’s vital to position your core messages front and center on the first page of your website. Otherwise, Bing may fail to spot key points deeper within the site.
#3. Bing places greater focus on page titles and meta descriptions – these are code snippets indicating what people might expect from a page. Google likes meta text as well, but it’s more focused on inbound and outbound links than Microsoft’s alternative.
#4. Despite its relationship to the largely defunct Google+ platform, Google search rankings don’t prioritize social signals as much as Bing’s. Having an active Twitter or Reddit account will, therefore, be more beneficial for a company website in Bing.
#5. Bing appreciates multimedia content more than Google. Again, this is relative – Google loves image captions and YouTube videos (as you’d expect from the latter’s parent brand). But Google focuses on HTML and text content, rather than images.
#6. The two engines prioritize established content differently. Bing loves enduring domains that attract large traffic volumes, whereas Google search rankings favor recent updates. They don’t discriminate against recently launched domains, either.
#7. Bing leads the way in voice searches. Got an Alexa at home? Ever asked Siri for assistance? Regular user of Cortana? All these virtual assistants rely on Bing, so natural language search terms need to be included in your site for optimal rankings.
While these differences may seem minor, it is important to consider both when optimizing your website for search engines. Every little bit counts in the competitive digital world, so why not take an advantage when you see one?
Midphase’s SEO Guru can help you make the most of your SEO options and help you find areas of your website that might need a little priming.
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