On February 19th, 2010 the regulatory system, AKA the government, approved the pending Bing/Yahoo merger. This news affects tons of people across multiple industries including search engine marketing. The SEO impact of this decision is monumental. Now I know some of you are chomping at the bit to come with the usual response to such a statement: Google is still the dominant player in the industry, why focus on Bing? While this mantra is technically still true to some extent, part of this Bing SEO Guide is designed to showcase the importance of Bing in the post merger search landscape. More importantly, this guide will outline 10 ranking factors you must pay attention to in order to optimize for Bing successfully.
So why Bing? Google will continue to have circa 70% market share in the search industry. The obvious answer is that Bing will represent ~28% market share post merger. This alone should make Bing a serious talking point in SEO conversations, not to mention PPC considering Bing has much higher click trough rates on their ads than Google. But enough about what we already know.
The real reason not to ignore Bing post merger is because your competitors will not be ignoring Bing. This may seem obvious but let’s imagine you work for an SEO agency. Your clients like the current relationship, however, they are open to hearing new business pitches from your competitors. If your competitor goes into a pitch talking about Bing, the following scenario WILL happen: “What? I can’t believe your current agency isn’t talking to you about Bing”…Blah, blah, blah. The above scenario is not a discussion you want to occur. If the market share of Bing combined with the prospect of your clients going elsewhere isn’t enough to make you take Bing seriously, you may need to evaluate your stance on the search industry in general.
Ok, so now that we are all convinced Bing will demand more attention from SEOs, how do we optimize for it? Do we focus on Google and hope our efforts trickle down to Bing? Absolutely not. I guarantee you that most SEOs utilize the above strategy for Bing. This works for now but in a post merger landscape, top notch SEOs will need to put some emphasis on Bing specifically.
10 Bing Ranking Factors
Domain Age – This is one I hate to put here because you can’t influence it, outside of buying an older domain. None the less, it is extremely important when optimizing for Bing.
Keyword in the Domain – Again, nothing you can easily change, but still influential.
Good Content – Specifically you want to shoot for having ~300+ words on the page. In addition the fresher or more frequently updated the content is, the better. Finally, the content should be keyword optimized but not over done. Google might let you get away with some good old keyword density spamming, but Bing will not.
Inbound Links – This makes the list for obvious reasons. The real point here is that while inbound links are important in order to optimize for Bing, less emphasis is put on them when compared to Google. Google is a links based algorithm, while Bing focuses more on other factors (hint: they are in this list).
Bing Webmaster Tools – Similar to Google, Bing has their own webmaster tools. Creating and verifying a Bing Webmaster Tools account and submitting your XML sitemap directly to Bing can improve rankings. It also gives you insight into how to improve your site and make it more Bing friendly.
On-Site SEO/Internal Linking Structures – Bing tends to like pages that have all the proper on page SEO elements. This includes things like meta tags, heading tags, etc… Google pays less attention to things like the H1 tag, while Bing still sees these factors as being important. You will see tons of sites ranking in Google with awful on-site SEO. This won’t happen with Bing as it tends to favor “holistic SEO” as opposed to external links only. Having a solid internal linking structure complete with site maps and breadcrumbs can get you a long way in Bing.
Clean URL Structures – Clean URLs are a big time influencer in Bing. Google will tend to rank sites with parameter strings, internal tracking codes, etc… in the URL as long as it has links pointing to it. Bing prefers and rewards clean URL structures even more than Google does. Messy, code rich URLs will have a hard time ranking in Bing.
Outbound Links – Yes you heard correct. The days of hoarding page rank are over. Bing tends to reward outbound linking to authoritative and relevant sites. It’s still up for debate whether or not Google rewards such behavior, but rest assured if you engage in this tactic it will only strengthen your Bing ranking.
Clean Code – Bing favors clean code. Make sure your code can be verified. In addition it helps to make your code as concise as possible. This means compressing HTML via an accepted technique, using an external CSS sheet, etc…Not only will having clean code help your Bing rankings, but it will inherently reduce your page speed load time and help you in Google Caffeine as well!
Inbound Links with Keyword in Title Tag – This is possibly the most important factor on this list. While inbound links from relevant sites are good, an inbound link with the keyword in the title tag specifically will work wonders in Bing. Many SEOs have already done the testing on this phenomenon, I’m simply reiterating the idea. A simple way to find these potential sites is to utilize advanced search parameters. Search “intitle:”Keyword” and you will see all the sites with that keyword in their title tag. BAM – there is a good list of sites to target in your Bing link building plan. Combine the intitle search parameter will others for even better results. Here is a good article explaining the various advanced search parameters written by Peter Wailes via YouMoz.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my 10 ranking factors you must know when optimizing for Bing. If you’d like to add more to the list or share your thoughts, please feel free to post a comment or contact me via email or Twitter!