Optimizing for Bing: Is It Worth It?

Optimizing for Bing: Is It Worth It?

We see it regularly: a website is placing well on a variety of keyword phrases on Google. The same keywords on Bing? 3rd page. 4th page. Nowhere to be found. 🤦 While it would make sense that if a keyword is well optimized, it would place well on all of the search engines, more often than not this isn’t the case. And while SEO’s typically put most of their eggs in the Google basket, we have to ask, should we be doing anything special to optimize for Bing? And if so, what?

One thing to remember before we move forward is that optimizing for Bing is the same as optimizing for Yahoo. Yahoo! is powered by Bing, thus you will almost always get the exact same results on Yahoo that you will on Bing. So when we talk about the value of optimizing for Bing, we really mean optimizing for Bing and Yahoo!

How Many Searches Happen on Bing?

The first thing to look at when answering this question is how many searches actually happen on Bing? Here are some points to consider:

Bing Continues to Lose Market Share Year After Year

  • At the beginning of 2015, Bing represented 9.7% of searches, Yahoo! 10.2%, and Google 78.5%
  • By the end of 2015, Google rose to 83%, knocking down Bing and Yahoo! even more
  • By the end of 2016, Google accounted for 88% of searches, with Bing accounting for just 6% and Yahoo only 3.5%
  • The numbers have hovered around the 2016 numbers ever since
chart showing the market share of google, bing, yahoo, duckduckgo, and aol search engines between jan 2016 and jan 2020
Click to enlarge

What about the numbers I keep seeing where Bing and Yahoo account for 30% of all searches even now? This all comes down to data, and the way people like to present it. The 30% number only represents desktop searches. And as we all know, the majority of searches conducted are now happening on mobile. So it makes more sense to us to look at all searches, not just desktop.

Bing Search Intent Isn’t in Favor Of Most Businesses

Not only is Bing’s market share weakening, but the top searches on Bing aren’t for products and services, but rather branded searches. The likely explanation for this is that people who have their home screen on their browser set to Bing simply type in the place they want to go. As a result, top searches on Bing are “Facebook,” “YouTube,” “Amazon,” and ironically, “Google.”

So Basically, Bing Optimization Isn’t Worth It, Right?

Not so fast. There are a few important things to note that may make a case for Bing in very specific circumstances. Before you rule out Bing completely, consider these facts:

Bing is the Default Search Engine for Many Popular Products

Bing is still the default search engine for a slew of products, especially Microsoft products since Bing is owned by Microsoft. While we don’t see the strongest search numbers, sometimes people get lazy or simply don’t care, and just use the default. Most voice search aside from Google Home also uses Bing as the default. Just some of the products that use Bing as their default search engine include:

  • Microsoft Edge Browser
  • Xbox
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Apple Siri
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Facebook Portal

A Large Number of Other Search Engines are Powered By Bing

There are many smaller search engines that are powered by Bing, meaning that Bing’s algorithm is at least partly used in determining their own search results. Search engines powered by Bing include:

  • Yahoo!
  • AOL
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Lycos

Niche Market & Demographic Considerations

Some other things you might want to consider if you are thinking about optimizing for Bing:

  • There are some very specific niche markets where the search market share for Bing and Yahoo! increases quite a bit. Examples include the automotive and healthcare industries.
  • There are also certain demographics that use Bing and Yahoo more than others. We’ve found that users 45 and older prefer Bing and Yahoo! over Google, with the 55-64 age group being the most frequent Bing users.

So Yes or No!?

With all of this information, we’d say that there isn’t much value in going out of your way to optimize for Bing and Yahoo! in most cases. However, if key consumers of your products or services are in the older age groups, or if you work in the automotive or healthcare industry, you may want to spend a little effort optimizing for Yahoo! and Bing.

How to Increase Placement on Bing Without Decreasing Placement on Google

If the 10% or so of searches still matter to you, or if the special circumstances above apply to to your business, the best way to optimize for Bing and Yahoo! is to do so in ways that won’t diminish your presence on Google. For example, there is evidence that using keyword meta tags on Bing will improve your placement there. Google, however, has long denounced this practice, and implementing these tags could even be considered keyword stuffing by Google. As a result, you could sacrifice major gains on Google for the tiny piece of Bing pie. Not a good thing! Here are a few SEO tips for increasing placement on Bing and Yahoo without decreasing your placement on Google.

Leverage Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster Tools has a few different features that you should be using regularly to ensure Bing is indexing your site properly:

  • Crawler Frequency: If your website is updated even semi-regularly (coming from an SEO expert, it better be!) , you set a higher crawler rate in Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • Submitting URL’s: In the same vein, some have speculated that even with frequent crawls, Bing often completely misses changes to webpages or even new webpages that have been created. Any time you make a change on your website or add a new page or blog post, be sure to submit the URL to Bing.
  • Sitemap: Ensure a clean, accurate sitemap has been submitted to Bing. If you are already doing organic SEO, you’ve probably already done this. Making sure your sitemap is up to date and doesn’t have any orphaned pages, etc should be done at least every 3 months, more or less based on the type of website you manage.

Use Exact Keywords

Bing prefers exact keywords as its algorithm isn’t as advanced as Google’s and can’t quite get the hang of semantic search. But be careful! Overuse of exact keywords on Google will be considered keyword stuffing. We’d recommend using the exact keyword in each of these spots:

  • Once in the Title Tag
  • Once in a Heading
  • Once or more in the Body *This is where you can get into trouble with Google. If you have a significant amount of page copy, more times may be acceptable. While there is no set right or wrong number, you shouldn’t have any keyword stuffing issues if you’re using an exact keyword once every 500 or so words.
  • The body paragraph that contains the exact keyword should be the paragraph immediately following the heading that uses the keyword.

Put Your Most Relevant Information at the Beginning

Bing doesn’t like reading a lot of copy, and with code-heavy sites this is especially true. Saving your keywords for the 3rd paragraph won’t do much good when you look at all the navigation, headers, and other information Bing has to sift through before it gets to your most important content. Put the most important content, which should include your keywords, at the beginning of the page. If this doesn’t fit well with the style of your website, use something like a TL;DR section or content summary to accomplish this.

Getting Backlinks for Your Website

Bing gives more weight to the total number of backlinks to your website as opposed to the number of domain links. What does this mean? Lower quality (some might say domain authority, although this doesn’t technically exist anymore) websites can often offer a larger quantity of links than the higher quality sites.

Now, please don’t take this to mean that you should be trying to get many links from many low quality sites! That is on the verge of black hat SEO, and could get your website in a lot of trouble. The concept here is that many SEO’s often overlook websites that don’t hit a certain mark or “domain authority” because they won’t be on Google’s radar. But just because they have a low domain authority doesn’t mean they are inherently bad.

Let’s pretend you find a mention of your organization on a website with a domain authority of 15. Look at the website and decide if you would trust the information it’s providing. Does it have a lot of links going out but not much information? Pass. But does it provide value? If so, take the time to request a link or 4. Even though Google may never include this as a backlink, Bing probably will, and it will help increase placement significantly.

Social Signals

Bing has admitted in the past that social media signals play an important role in determining the position of a website in search results. Be sure to claim all of your social media accounts, even if you aren’t using them.

  • Put your website URL in the appropriate places (Bio, website, about section, etc.)
  • Ensure you have a custom URL if one is available (for example, our facebook url is https://www.facebook.com/TopOfTheListSEO )
  • Make sure you have included your local search citation (Exact name, address, phone number) where applicable
  • Submit your social URL’s in Bing Webmaster Tools
Submit social media pages in Bing Webmaster Tools connected pages
Submitting your social pages via Connected Pages in Bing Webmaster Tools

Keep Creating Valuable Content

You’ll hear it again and again, but the advice rings true. The best thing you can do is to just keep creating valuable content. Being an SEO isn’t easy, and as much as we try to do on-page optimization, the best thing we can do is provide information that will be attractive to existing and prospective customers. That being said, we know it can be frustrating seeing the fruits of your efforts on Google and then almost nothing happening on Bing! We hope the above tips will help you gain a stronger foothold on Bing and Yahoo, and provide even better ROI for your business.

About the Author

Nicole Vesota

Nicole Vesota

Vice President & Project Manager

Nicole has been working in online marketing since 2007 when she joined Top Of The List. She loves creative endeavors and spending time with her daughter.