Perhaps you’re questioning Google’s long-term reign after seeing increased demand for Bing thanks to Microsoft’s release of Bing Chat. Or maybe you’ve found your audience like’s the Edge browser or primarily uses Windows OS.
Whatever the case, you want to be set up for success on every available search engine. I know what’s that like, so in this article, I’m going to compare search engine optimization for Google vs. Bing, explore Bing’s ranking factors, and answer whether it’s worth your time to develop a separate Bing SEO strategy for your website.
Bing vs. Google SEO: Key Market Differences
Let’s start by discussing some of the key differences between the two search engines so you can fully understand your SEO opportunities on Bing versus Google.
With more than a quarter of all US desktop searches attributable to Microsoft, there’s no denying Bing’s mark on the desktop search market. Although Google commands the majority (89%) of the overall market share in the US, Bing still holds a significant portion (7%). Globally, the numbers are similar.
When it comes to mobile, Google commands more than 96% of the search engine market share, with Bing ringing in less than 1% worldwide.
But these numbers don’t tell the entire picture, as Bing also powers several other search engines. Yahoo!, AOL, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, MSN, and Qwant are all at leaste partially powered by Bing, meaning when you optimize for Bing, you’re optimizing for them all.
Bing powers Amazon’s Alexa. Thus, Microsoft enjoys a significant 25% of the voice market share. Google’s Home Assistant takes slightly more at 36% of the voice market share.
Now that we’ve gotten the groundwork out of the way, let’s discuss Bing optimization so you can learn how to rank on Bing.
Bing SEO Ranking Factors
Google’s ranking factors and Bing’s ranking factors share many similarities. However, one primary difference stands out as more unique to Bing — its reliance of machine learning for ranking sites. According to Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Round Table, Bing relies on machine learning for more than 90% of search results.
So how does its heavy use of machine learning change things for Bing SEO?
Frédéric Dubut, principal project PM manager, core search & AI at Microsoft, told Search Engine Land, “I don’t think it even makes sense for us to talk about the top five ranking factors. The model is changing all the time, so you get new data from the web, and you get new user behaviors; even the same query doesn’t mean the same thing in 2019 as it does in 2021. The model is learning all the time, and so what it’s doing is taking into account all these different factors and it’s combining all of them trying to see what are the signals that are the most predictive of relevance. That changes all the time, and the weights that it’s putting on all of these factors are also changing all the time.”
This means that even if you follow the Bing Webmaster Guidelines, there are no guarantees when it comes to optimizing your website to rank higher on Bing. To be clear — the same can be said for Google.
Let’s dive into exactly what you should do to improve your SEO on Bing.
Sitemaps are crucial for Bing to identify your website content and URLs. An XML sitemap is a file dedicated to understanding your website’s URLs, files, images, and videos, helping crawlers understand essential pages and their updates. To ensure Bing efficiently discovers your website’s content, use an XML sitemap and update it when you make changes.
Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines provide these tips:
- Bing supports various sitemap formats, including XML, RSS, MRSS, Atom 1.0, and text files.
- Keep your URLs consistent and list only canonical URLs.
- List a single version of your site in your sitemap, whether it’s HTTP vs. HTTPS or mobile vs. desktop.
- Use the rel=”alternate” attribute if you have separate mobile and desktop URLs.
- Use hreflang tags for multilingual or multi-regional pages.
- Include the <lastmod> attribute to specify the last modification date and time.
- Keep your sitemap under 50,000 URLs/50MB uncompressed. For larger sites, use smaller sitemaps and a sitemap index file.
Submit your sitemap using the Bing Webmaster Tools Sitemap Tool, and make sure you’ve also listed it in your robots.txt file.
After this initial setup, Bing will crawl your sitemap regularly, so there’s no need to resubmit it unless your site undergoes significant changes. While submitting a sitemap to Bing (and Google!) never guarantees full crawling and indexing of your site, it does make it easier for search crawlers.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
A title tag, or page title, is how the title of a web page is displayed on the search engine results page. Title tags are included in both Google and Bing’s ranking factors.
Meta descriptions, while not a ranking factor for either search engine, are important for helping Bing and users to understand what’s on your web pages. Bing recommends thinking about meta descriptions as extensions of your page titles and being descriptive, specific, and accurate when creating them. .
Keyword Usage and Content Relevance
Like Google, Bing considers the relevance of the content on a web page to determine whether it matches the intent of the user’s search query. If there are multiple intents possible, Bing includes some results addressing each intent to ensure users find the information they’re looking for. Bing also considers the phrases other pages use to link to your page when determining your ranking position.
Both Google and Bing use BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations of Transformers) for natural language processing, which has significantly improved the quality of search results for both search engines.
Bing keyword rankings differ from Google in how Bing uses keywords to signal relevancy. Bing’s algorithm cares more about the use of specific keywords, placing more weight on exact match keywords than Google does. Google’s latent semantic understanding of content means synonyms play a higher role in its algorithm.
Pro tip: Bing has a dedicated keyword research tool where you can obtain keyword ideas across related keywords, question keywords, and newly discovered keywords.
Content Quality & Readability
Bing, like Google, prioritizes high-quality, easily readable content that provides the most value to readers.
Bing uses the term “quality and credibility (QC)” in reference to how they evaluate websites, which includes assessing how clear the site’s purpose is, its usability, and its presentation. It also prioritizes pages with authority, either the author’s/site’s reputation or its use of citations and references to authoritative data sources.
When optimizing for Bing SEO, keep in mind that Bing (and users) wants your content formatted so it’s easy to read and scan, with images and visuals to support your written content.
Bing and Google both emphasize fresh content. This doesn’t mean that evergreen content is of lesser value. It just means that if content needs to be updated to remain relevant, you should do so. Content that doesn’t change over time (like “how to fix a leaky sink”) would not require frequent updating to remain relevant, but topics that change — like information about the latest Google Algorithm update — may require periodic refreshes to continue ranking high.
Backlinks and Link Quality
Bing considers the number, quality, and age of the backlinks pointing to your website. Just like SEO for Google, you should focus on building high-quality, relevant backlinks to your site for Bing’s algorithm. It’s important to note that, when judging backlink quality, Bing considers authoritative .edu, .gov, and .org sites more important than Google does.
Domain Age and Authority
Bing considers the age of your domain and your entire website’s authority in your industry rather than just one page’s authority when determining if your page should rank. This is more important to Bing than to Google’s algorithm, which favors single-page factors (like external links to the page) when ranking individual pages on search.
Bing looks at social media engagement, such as likes and shares, to determine the popularity and relevance of your content.
User Engagement Metrics
Bing considers how users interact with your website, such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and time spent on-page after finding your site through search results. If you’re curious about how your site stacks up for these metrics, Bing’s Webmaster Tools provides you with easy access to this data.
Like Google, Bing considers the speed at which your website loads, since slow-loading page speeds can negatively impact user experience. A fast-loading page is always best, but Bing recommends balancing it with a helpful user experience.
Just like signing up for a Google Business Profile, it’s important to claim your Bing Place for your local SEO strategy while optimizing for Bing.
Use of Schema
Structured data helps search crawlers better understand your content. Bing prioritizes structured data just like Google does. Bing recommends using Semantic Markup from Schema.org, in either JSON-LD or Microdata format. Semantic Markup might enable Bing’s rich features but, again, there is no guarantee. You can use Bing’s URL Inspection tool to verify your schema is structured properly.
Mobile friendliness is not as significant of a Bing ranking factor as it is for Google, but it does still matter — Bing even has its own mobile friendliness test tool. Bing considers page fit, text readability, viewport configuration, button size, and content spacing when determining a site’s appropriateness for a mobile browser.
When ranking results for users, Bing considers the following:
- The user’s location
- The page’s language
- Where the page is hosted
- The locations of other visitors on that page
Ranking Factors on Bing vs. Google
This table offers a quick overview so you can see how the two search engines compare.
|Title Tags||Ranking signal||Ranking signal|
|Mobile Optimization||Mobile-first indexing||Preference for mobile-optimized sites that fit in mobile browsers|
|Content Keywords||Uses keyword synonyms and context||Exact keywords work best, but synonyms also contribute|
|Double-Meaning Queries||More popular sites will rank first for keywords with multiple meanings||Gives local search results|
|Domain Authority & Page Authority (Backlinks)||PA is weighted more than DA; quality of backlinks matters||Considers Domain Authority for ranking; prioritizes .edu and .gov sites.|
|Flash Content||Flash is not supported||Able to crawl Flash and even encourages it in some instances|
|Social Media||Not a ranking signal||Social media popularity and sharing are used for ranking|
|Meta Keyword Tags||Not a ranking signal||Not a ranking factor but is used as a spam signal|
How Bing Webmaster Tools Helps With Bing SEO
Bing Webmaster Tools provides valuable functions and insights for website managers to help improve your Bing SEO strategies, including a keyword research tool, backlink analysis, SEO reporting, and a site audit tool.
- Search Performance: A report similar to Google Search Console, Search Performance helps you monitor traffic coming to your site from Bing and keeps you informed about the clicks and impressions your site receives per page and per keyword.
- URL Inspection: The URL Inspection feature allows you to inspect your indexed URLs and monitor indexing issues that may be relevant to processing content, crawling, following Bing Webmaster guidelines, and identifying any issues with SEO or schema.
- Site Explorer: The Site Explorer tool allows you to look at your site structure and helps you identify any issues with redirects, crawl issues, and pages disallowed by robots.txt.
- Sitemaps: The Sitemaps report provides details about your sitemaps known to Bing, as well as the crawl and processing stats. You can submit new sitemaps and resubmit sitemaps with just a click.
- IndexNow: The IndexNow tool helps you communicate with Bing and other search engines about changes to the content on your website. The tool also helps you cue them to start crawling these URLs, index them, and show the changes in search results.
- URL Submission: The URL submission function allows you to submit URLs to crawl and be indexed.
- Backlinks: The backlinks report supplies information about your site’s backlink profile, including the number of referring pages, domains, and anchor texts. You can use the Disavow Links tool to submit pages or domain URLs that appear spammy or originate from low-quality sites.
- Keyword Research: The Keyword Research tool assists with identifying the phrases and keywords that searchers use on Bing Search along with the keywords’ search volumes.
- SEO Reports: The SEO Reports feature provides some of the most common page-level recommendations to improve your site’s ranking. These recommendations are based on a set of SEO best practices to help you get started improving your website’s search engine rankings.
- Site Scan: The Site Scan is an SEO audit tool that crawls your site and looks for common technical SEO problems.
- Crawl Control: The Crawl Control function allows you to specify the speed for the Bingbot to make requests for pages and resources on your website.
- Block URLs: The Block URLs function allows you to momentarily block pages, directory URLs, and cached pages from displaying in Bing SERPs. This helps create time for you to take a page down or make changes to its metadata when necessary.
- Robots.txt Tester: The Robots.txt Tester makes analyzing your robots.txt file possible, and helps pinpoint any issues that are stopping your site from getting crawled by Bing or other robots.
- Verify Bingbot: The Verify Bingbot feature helps you check whether an IP address belongs to a Bingbot.
- User Management: The User Management function allows you to add other users to your website with varying levels of permissions.
- Microsoft Clarity Tool: The Microsoft Clarity feature is a free analytical tool that helps you understand the behaviors of your site visitors.
Is a Separate Bing SEO Strategy Worthwhile?
So what’s the verdict? Is it worth your time to create a separate SEO strategy for Bing?
I vote no.
If you’re following the core best practices of search engine optimization, and you’ve created a strong Google keyword strategy that uses keyword themes and long-tail keywords, then you’re already taking plenty of the steps needed to rank on Bing.
At Victorious, we focus on Google SERP improvements since the search giant is unanimously the most-used search engine. This work often leads to improvements in Bing SERPs, though it’s not the primary focus of our campaigns. To learn more about the ranking factors we focus on, visit our SEO checklist.
Ready to speak to a pro? Higher search visibility is just a form away — schedule a free consultation now.