It’s no secret anymore that Google has some serious competition. Sure, no one says “Bing it” the way they say “Google it”, but popular slang isn’t the only measurement of search engine success.
In the handful of years Bing has been in the mix, they’ve only gone one direction: up. With the power of Microsoft behind the technology and marketing prowess, that’s not likely to let up any time soon.
Are all search engines created equal? Not a chance. As it’s shaping up, Google and Bing both have definite strengths and weaknesses. That’s good news for merchants who want to differentiate themselves, but it does add SEO complexity, as tactics are definitely not “one-size-fits-all.”
Bing and Google: Similarities and Differences
Bing and Google certainly have more in common than not, but the differences are what make them interesting. Likewise, it’s these standout traits that business owners need to take note of, because they help determine which search engine should be at the forefront of all SEO strategies. While it’s never advisable to leave either one out of your efforts, it’s important to choose which site the bulk of your time and dollars should be focused on. For the first time ever this year, that may very well be Bing.
Google has one thorough, dynamic, and tricky as can be algorithm. They excel at squashing spammers (they’re not perfect, but they do an amazing job of sweeping out the cheaters), keeping content results clean and consistent, and showcasing a simple, intuitive user-interface.
Bing, on the other hand, has become the social darling, as it is the only search engine that has successfully integrated Facebook into its rankings. This is pretty revolutionary because your Facebook friends’ likes and dislikes are integrated into the search results. Google does the same with Google+, but let’s face it, there’s little contest regarding which is more powerful.
What this has come to mean is that for local search results, Bing reigns supreme. For informational searches and web-wide research, Google is the go-to.
Are You a Google or a Bing Business?
For merchants, this is actually an easy decision. If you run a locally owned business, Bing’s results are increasingly superior.
Don’t believe me? Take a cue from the brilliant Bing-it-On Challenge marketing campaign and see for yourself.
Search for something like “Las Vegas hotels”. See if you don’t agree with the masses that Bing’s results are not only more graphically-rich, but also more targeted. Then, search for something like “Define: nebula” – and Google will likely kick Bing’s behind.
Who’s Winning the Popularity Contest?
There’s no denying Google still has the majority of the market share, but those numbers continue to slip. Furthermore, a lot of folks are running surveys to see which search engine users actually prefer, and many are giving top marks to Bing.
In a survey earlier this year, Search Engine Watch asked a gaggle of searchers which experience they preferred, specifically regarding the layouts of each site.
The results were split into several interesting categories, but the gist of the data was this: 63 percent of users preferred Bing’s layout as it related to social search and 53 percent preferred Google for universal search. More proof that if you’re a local business, it’s time to seriously consider putting your bang in Bing.
Top Tips for Excelling on Bing
If you want to hit the top of Bing’s rankings for your chosen keywords, here are the best ways to score a high ranking:
- First and foremost, make sure that social tactics are a huge part of your marketing strategies. A heavy presence on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and related sites is a must.
- Be a heavy Facebook user, as opposed to Google+. Leverage your fans, and encourage social signals (Likes, comments, etc.)
- Test your keywords specifically against the Bing audience. What will get you high rankings in Google will likely be different in Bing. The smaller audience also means less competition for your keywords, so you’re more likely to do well using more popular selections on Bing than on Google.
- Bing is a stickler for error free XML sitemaps. Make sure yours have zero 404s, or the Bingbot might ignore the whole thing.
- The Bingbot is also big on Robots.txt files. If your site doesn’t have one, it risks being completely ignored by Bing.
- Bounce rates are also big deciding factors. If most visitors bounce off a page before spending a certain chunk of time, the entire website may suffer a ranking decrease.
- Just like Google, content – good, quality, fresh, current, irresistible content – is essential to a high ranking.
Whether you decide to go full throttle into a Bing approach, or stick to the tried-and-true Google, make sure you at least keep some strategies in mind for both. Bing may not yet be the homecoming queen, but it’s earned enough votes to make the reigning royalty start quaking in the knees. That means you’re very wise to not ignore this new kid on the search block.
What are your top tips for rising in the Bing ranks? Or do you even concern yourself with Bing at this stage in the game?