Unlike with Google, Bing SEO comes with a “back to basics” approach that virtually any webmaster can quickly put to use and rank easily.
Especially if you're not a "nobody," but a well-established brand.
Bing gives more visibility to brands in search compared to Google
Bing counts backlinks in a more unfiltered way than Google (although that’s changing in favor of link quality)
.gov and .edu websites are favored in Bing SERPs
Bing favors content with more social media signals
Bing looks more at keywords, titles and meta tags than context, and it’s almost verbatim (or exact match) in search
Bing handles Flash sites better
Local SEO on Bing values proximity (closest to your area), and not who's the biggest or most authoritative business around
Bing supports link building practices—and it’s far more permissive than Google at it
Optimizing your website for Bing also comes with extra benefits: Doing SEO for Bing means doing SEO for Yahoo! as well.
It's Bing that powers the historical search engine, and Yahoo! matters because it still holds a slice of the search market (4.74%). So you get to optimize for—and get results from—two search engines instead of one!
Overall, Bing's view of SEO reminds me of Google's up until 2012, when search engine exploitation through spam and black hat techniques grew exponentially.
But it'd be a mistake to believe that Bing doesn't make any efforts to counter spam. In fact, while it allows for more freedom and experimentation in SEO, it still sets boundaries.
Let’s find out how you can translate the above points into an actionable Bing SEO plan.
For Bing in particular, on-page SEO is critical, because Bing values it much more deeply than Google and other search engines that use sentiment analysis.
Also, Bing treats title tags and keywords almost verbatim, so you're more likely to achieve results with exact match phrases here.
Here's what to prioritize:
a. Proximity in Keywords
A query for "cheap hotels london" will mostly return exact match results, with variations given by word order (e.g. "london cheap hotels," "cheap london hotels") and proximity within the text (e.g. "cheap hotels in london").
Keywords are also extracted from context (e.g. "Great savings on hotels in London").
The good news? You have plenty of room to get creative with keywords in your titles and text (just don't get spammy).
b. Title Tags
Titles are what gets indexed and searched on Bing, so double check to see that they include keywords—and that these keywords include all the terms you want to rank for.
It's worth noticing that Bing's "retro" approach to title tags (<title>, H1, H2, etc.) is to replicate them verbatim, matching exactly what you input in the HTML of your page.
c. Meta Tags
The description meta tag is key to getting your site indexed properly on all search engines. But while you can disregard keywords in the meta when you optimize for Google, that tag is still relevant to placement in Bing and Yahoo!.
Bing encourages webmasters to actively seek backlinks as a means to gain popularity, and to help its index discover new pages. So, both quality and quantity matter.
However, it'd be a mistake to think that any link building technique is fine by the search engine.
Because a backlink is a trust signal in Bing's eyes, the Webmaster Guidelines state that abusive tactics like link spamming, link farms and "excessive" link exchanges (i.e. done to manipulate search engines and not for the sake of partnership with other websites) are frowned upon, and might lead to your website being delisted.
In other words, Bing's position is that all links must exist for the benefit of users before search engines.
Here are some helpful tips on how to approach link building to improve your rankings on Bing (and Yahoo!).
Why 20? Because this is a healthy number of backlinks to stay free of Google penalties while boosting your presence in Bing and Yahoo!.
There are plenty of link building techniques to obtain niche backlinks that you can put to use. But I can definitely recommend the following from personal experience, because they're active techniques that combine link building and branding, both essential to increase your presence in Bing and Yahoo!:
b. Put .edu, .gov and .org Backlinks in Your Link Building Basket
Bing also values .edu and .gov backlinks for their authority, as well as backlinks from aged domains. So it'd be a great idea to try and get some of these when you plan your link building strategy.
.Org backlinks are easier to obtain than the other two, since virtually anyone can register a .org while only governments and educational institutions can get a .gov and a .edu, making them authoritative de facto.
Bing rewards content that gets plenty of social media endorsements, so don't shy away from promoting your blog posts, guides and other material on social networks.
Even a few likes and shares can make a difference on Bing!
For example, a search for "content marketing" returned a Forbes article with 1.4k Facebook shares and 1.2k Twitter shares (I used BuzzSumo to find out), and a page from Neil Patel's website (3.6k Facebook shares and 228 Twitter shares) among the results on page one of the SERPs.
I had to apply a filter for English only results as I'm using Bing from Italy, but even from out-of-order filtered SERPs, you can see how much social signals matter for Bing's indexation choices.
4. Add Proximity Elements to Local SEO
Bing values proximity over the "bigness" and reputation of a company when showing local results, so ensure that your brand or business has its location and directions well in sight on your website.
Use local listings (e.g. Yelp, Foursquare) to add more information to the graph and help Bing locate and index your website correctly.
Also, having a presence on Bing Places is a must to improve your local SEO on Bing.
5. Grow Your Brand to Get More Visibility
You know by now that Bing gives more space to established brands in search, so working on brand reputation will get you a long away on this search engine.
Here's how to do it:
a. Boost Your Brand's Reputation
I have three tips you can put into action right away:
Take good care of your visitors, readers and customers: Respond to support tickets and email inquiries, build trust in those who value your website or business
Give or sell content, products and services that have real value and no fluff: Avoid "fill-in" content that doesn't provide real value
Encourage readers or clients to leave reviews and testimonials: Feedback in writing is proof that what you do works!
b. Let Your Domain Age Well
Bing values old domains over new ones, no matter how good their content is. If your website sits on an older domain—and that domain is in good standing—it'll get favored on Microsoft's search engine.
In order of appearance in Bing's SERPs, a search for "cheap hotels london" returns the following domains on page one:
hotels.com - online since 1994
laterooms.com - online since 1999
hostelbookers.com - online since 2003
lastminute.com - online since 1998
The picture is clear.
Let your domain age, and age well. Take care of security against hackers, negative SEO and reputation pitfalls. You'll do fine.
6. Quality Content Wins All the Time
Like every search engine, Bing cares about the quality of the content it indexes and serves to users.
Bing gets specific in its Webmaster Guidelines, stating that it wants content on your website to be clear, engaging and easy to navigate for the reader.
If your site is all about affiliate links and advertising, Bing's judgment might be a little harsher than you expected—and on this matter, it's evident that Bing and Google are on the same page on the little value of thin content for search users.
To make search more effective from a searcher's viewpoint, Bing encourages webmasters to use keyword research to create content users are looking for.
This makes content creation all the easier, especially if you accompany your planning efforts with on-page SEO tools like the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, that helps you measure readability, keyword density and other on-page elements like title tags and internal links.
I'll cover Bing's tools for webmasters more in detail below.
3 Bing SEO Tactics to Avoid
1. Using Flash Massively
Although Bing handles Flash relatively well, it discourages massive usage of this technology to build websites.
In fact, it's still harder to crawl than simple HTML text, and using too much Flash might cause indexation issues and hinder your website position in the SERPs of other search engines—first of all being Google.
Google owns the biggest slice of the search market share, and not appearing in Google search might lead to significantly less traffic for your website.
2. Building Spammy Backlinks (Penalty Beware)
Bing might be more permissive with link building practices, but it does frown upon spammy attempts and link schemes, so play it with care.
Excessive social media schemes such as buying Likes and comment-based engagement can lead to trouble on Bing's SERPs, especially when such schemes appear with an unnatural pattern (example: a sudden burst in Facebook fan page followers).
Like Google, Bing also provides webmasters with a suite of SEO and traffic analysis tools to keep track of clicks and search impressions.
How to set up Bing Webmaster Tools:
1. Log in to Bing Webmaster Tools with your account (your @live.com email address or a social login)
2. Once you're logged in, add your site to your panel using the "Add a Site" field at the top of the page
3. Bing will ask you for the URL of your sitemap. You can do this now or later. Click the "Add" button
4. Next, you must verify ownership of your website. You have three options to do this: Upload an XML file Bing gives you, add a meta tag to the HTML header of your site, or add a CNAME record to your DNS. Click "Verify"
5. Now your website is monitored by Bing Webmaster Tools and it's going to display trends as soon as Bing collects data from search
And now let's skip to the parts that matter for our article, under the Reports & Data section:
Page Mobile Friendliness
This is Bing's panel showing you the pages of your website that appeared in search for one or more keywords. It tells you (with trends):
How many clicks a page received from search (Clicks from Search)
How many times it appeared in search (Appeared in Search)
The Click-Through Rate for that page
The Average Search Click Position
The Average Search Appearance Position
You can order your results per each of these columns.
My Pro Blog appeared 47 times from search with an average position of 13,2... but my blog needs to convert better—you see, nobody clicked on that search result!
Search traffic data in Page Traffic are combined from Bing and Yahoo!, so the data you work with is the aggregate of the activity of searchers from two engines.
It's easy to see which pages receive the most traffic across the two search engines using this tool.
Also, you can export all traffic data as a CSV file to work offline.
Page Mobile Friendliness
This tool tells you if your website is mobile friendly or not, and it gives you a simple mobile UX analysis tool to do a quick check-up.
Just click "Analyze" to run the checker tool.
My site looks a bit messy on mobile, but at least it's usable. Yay!
This is an interesting tool because it gives a visual representation of your website as folders and files, like you'd see it in an FTP directory.
The tool reports various HTTP statuses and errors (301 redirects, 404 not found, malware infected files, files excluded by robots.txt) and gives you a schematic snippet of the problem at hand.
In the example above, I clicked on my About page to see that see one of my links (/business-vision) returns a 404 error.
This panel shows you the search keywords that got your site found on Bing and Yahoo! search.
For each keyword, you can see which pages were served to visitors (could be more than one, even many!).
Bing shows you a detailed traffic report for each search keyword on this page when you click "View Served Pages" under a keyword.
You can export everything as a CSV file.
Reports give you advice to improve your on-page SEO, showing a list of issues on your website ordered by severity and number of occurrences.
Here I have a page where I omitted to use a H1 tag and Bing shows me the details of my problem, as well as how I can fix it.
Backlinks in Bing's Webmaster Tools are counted including both internal links and inbound links, so the number of backlinks per page might appear higher than you expected.
Here you find a graph with the link count and a list of target URLs with the number of backlinks for each. You can easily export this data as a CSV file.
Here Bing gives you the reports from its crawler on your website, including all the errors it stumbled upon.
In the example below, Bingbot found a 400 error on my Projects page, one that I linked to but that I haven't published yet.
Bing Webmaster Tools is a complex suite comprising several features, from media RSS to geo-targeting, but thankfully Bing comes to our rescue with a very detailed Help & How-to page.
Doing SEO for Bing (and Yahoo!) is easy and straightforward. It's almost a back-in-time SEO game, when Google was a simpler search engine and ranking was not yet a headache.
If you avoid spamming and stuffing your site with tons of generic keywords, you'll do fine on Bing.
Search traffic is lower on Bing than on Google, so don't expect thousands or millions of new visitors (and conversions) a day—but make sure that handful of visitors from Microsoft's search engine (and Yahoo!) don't leave dissatisfied with your website.
Have fun diversifying your SEO!
Freelance B2B blogger and cartoonist from Italy who loves to play with Web Marketing and SEO since 2008. Has published with Relevance, TutsPlus+ and WHSR. Find me at @LuanaSpinetti on Twitter and my site LuanaSpinetti.com.
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