Optimizing for Bing, Optimizing for Google, is there a difference?
We have had many clients ask us how Bing differs from Google and if there are SEO considerations to account for. Coincidentally, MarketingProfs.com gave a webinar last week with the topic of optimizing your site for Bing vs. Google and uncovering the differentiators. Google now has 70% of search market share while Bing is now around 10%. The 10% is in speculation depending on who you ask but we believe this 10% is the amount of search market share that MSN/Live search engines had before Bing was introduced. Bing’s search market share is anticipated to increase when and if the Yahoo! deal is approved.
While nothing earth-shattering, or new, was uncovered during the hour-long presentation relative to SEO we did take notice of a few observations in relation to how Bing displays several types of content and search engine results.
Let’s begin with the bottom line – Bing organizes and displays their data differently than Google does. Bing’s focus is on making travel and shopping related searches better for the user to make a decision (hence, the decision engine) while Google’s ultimate goal is to deliver the most relevant results for a specific search query no matter what topic. There are new and different opportunities that Bing offers if you are in one of these key industries (shopping and travel). While Bing will be able to gain in these areas we don’t believe SEO strategies should change dramatically. Following best practices, building a crawlable site and creating great content are still the keys to success with all search engines.
Here are some of the items that make Bing different from Google:
1) Bing’s “Best Match” or top result is manually chosen by an actual human, not algorithmically as is Google’s. Not every search will have a “best match” because of this manual selection. This human moderation (similar to DMOZ and Wikipedia) confirms the importance and relevancy of quality site content and as we all know, content remains king in all search engines. It also means that Bing may be a bit harder to game for a top ranking for anything other than a branded search. That is unless you truly are the most relevant, useful site for the target query.
2) Bing will show results from “their” web properties and third parties with which Bing has agreements such as MSNBC, Hulu, MSN, and others before anyone else’s. With Yahoo! becoming more of a media entity, this plays right into Bing’s apparent strategy. We are seeing how Microsoft is positioning this search engine to leverage their other properties as news and content sources. This could and most likely will have a huge impact on search relevancy, since the most relevant result won’t always be shown.
3) Bing’s image search likes absolute URLs as opposed to relative ones. (Absolute URLs are when the domain is in the URL like www.libertyinteractivemarketing.com/directory versus simply pointing to /directory) The application of this is that if an image is linked from another site, the original site will still get the visibility in image search. So don’t steal images, but if you do, make sure to host them on your own server.
4) Local ads on Bing are supplied by YellowPages.com. So, if you want your business’ text ad to appear on Bing local search you’ll need to advertise with YellowPages.com.
5) Bing Shopping is CPA-based (cost per action) and sorts results based on a combination of price, shipping and Bing’s cashback program. An important note: You can’t participate in Bing Shopping unless you are already an advertiser on Bing/MSNAdcenter.
A key element regarding personal privacy is that Bing indexes the Facebook profile pictures and photo albums of fans of pages (business profiles) and shows them in its image search with little regard for relevancy. So, for example, if you search your company name on Bing, it may pull in pictures of people who fanned your page – and not necessarily pictures that are representative of the brand or that either party wants shown to the world. We find this extremely scary. If you do too, read this related article on Facebook pages now included in Google’s real-time results.
Have you noticed other differences between Bing and Google? We would love to hear how people are using Bing and other observations about the new “decision engine.”