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SEO Optimization for Bing: Is it Really Worth Your Time?

Bing is the number 2 search engine in the western world after Google, enjoying a 13.5% and 11.5% share of all desktop queries in the US and UK, respectively. In light of this, digital marketing strategies should make sure they include Bing, especially given that Bing users tend to be older and have bigger disposable incomes than Google users. This blogpost contains all you need to know about Bing and Bing users, the main differences between Google and Bing, and Bing ranking factors.

Bing market share 2020

Window’s voice assistant Cortana is plugged into the Windows 10 ecosystem. It is no surprise then that Cortana keeps its searches within the Microsoft family, using Bing as the default search engine in the Microsoft Edge browser, for example. In fact, this is the very reason why Bing gets such impressive market share for desktop searches. In August 2020, for instance, Bing was used for 13.5 % of all desktop search queries in the US (StatCounter). In the UK and Germany, in comparison, Bing was used for 11.5 % and around 9.5 % of desktop searches, respectively.

Country Desktop Market Share
USA 13,5%
UK 11,5%
Deutschland 9,5%
Europa gesamt 7%
Welt gesamt 6,5%

Bing Marketing Shares for desktop search queries in August 2020

One thing we should be aware of, however, is that Bing only really plays a role in desktop searches. When it comes to mobile searches, it has no market shares to shout home about.

One reason for this is that Google is the default search engine on Android devices, which dominate the mobile market. Plus, Google makes huge payments to Apple to secure its place as the default search engine on the iPhone browser Safari. By all accounts, the amount of money that Google pays to Apple is enormous – according to CNCB, around 9.5 billion US dollars in 2018 alone.

Bing users are better off than their Google counterparts, and advertising on Bing is cheaper than on Google

Bing itself has underlined that its own user community has far higher incomes than that of competitor Google. Commenting on Bing’s own analysis of the use of Bing ads (search engine ads in the search results), author Cora Rothenbächer stated that [Bing ads] are able to reach “what tends to be a higher-income target group than is the case for Google”. “To be specific, 24% of Bing users in Germany are in the top 25% income bracket”, she added.

In terms of gender, 55% of Bing users are men and 45% are women. Bing users also tend to be better educated than Google’s users, with 20% holding a university degree or postgraduate qualification, which can also be attributed to the close link between Bing and Windows 10. Many Bing’s users use it for desktop searches in the workplace, meaning their search queries are often, making them of interest for B2B marketers. In addition, the CPA (Cost per Acquisition) and the average CPC (Cost per Click) for Bing are often lower than for Google.

Bing ranking factors

In the summer of 2020, Microsoft updated its Bing Webmaster Guidelines, publishing a detailed document on the most important ranking factors for top positions in Bing search results. As unsurprising as they are, the individual points in the document do provide a basic understanding of how Bing ranking works. These ranking factors are listed in decreasing order of importance, i.e., the relevance of a search result is most important for Bing, whereas user signals are moderately important. Page load time come last in the list of six Bing ranking factors.

1. Relevance: This factor measures to what extent the landing page content fulfils the intent behind the user’s search query. According to Bing, this is measured mainly by analyzing matching words on the webpage itself as well as link texts, but also synonyms and abbreviations.
2. Quality and credibility: To measure the quality of a website, Bing analyzes the reputation of the page itself. The question of whether author names are cited, for example, is important for Bing ranking. Plus, landing pages are more credible if they cite sources or apply a certain netiquette.
3. User engagement and satisfaction: Bing also takes into account how users interact with search results. What results do users click on, how long did the user spend on the results page, scrolling, for example, before clicking on specific results. How long is the time on site and what is the bounce rate?
4. Freshness: Bing likes fresh content, meaning a website which provides up-to-date information. In other words it is not important how many new pages appear. Instead, to get a good ranking on Bing the content on the pages has to be updated continually. Commenting on this topic, Microsoft says explicitly that in many cases content produced today is still relevant in years to come.
5. Location: For Bing rankings, the user’s specific location (country and town/city) is also important, as is the hosting location and the document language.
6. Page load time: As with Google, the time it takes for a page to load is also important for how a page ranks in Bing search results. Microsoft recommends, however, finding a happy medium between absolute page load time and user experience.

SEO optimization for Bing

  • Search engine optimization for Bing is not much different to optimizing for Google. The SERP features are similar, too. Bing also uses Direct Answers, Featured Snippets, Knowledge Panels, and more.
  • Besides the similarities, Bing does have a few unique features. Bing still shows star ratings in search results as rich snippets more frequently than Google, which now only does so for third-party sites. In general, the snippets are longer and include more text than Google; meta descriptions in Bing are far more elaborate than in Google.
  • Analyses show big differences in the backlink results for Google and Bing. This is down to the fact that Bing pages do not crawl as much in Germany owing to its small market share here, which is why it takes longer to find backlinks. Where Google needs between 24 hours and 2 weeks to find backlinks, Bing can easily need as much as six months.
  • Bing’s close link with Windows 10 also offers potential in a number of different areas – just think of the Windows desktop background that changes daily. If a user clicks on the background for more info, they will be taken straight to the relevant Bing search results page. And any website that ranks for this topic will see an increase in organic traffic. In other words, similar to Google Doodle, but more so for users that surf while at work.
  • You can also register your domain in the Bing Webmaster Tool. This will give you access to data on crawling, optimization level, security, and mobile friendliness and will enable you to see how where your domain ranks in Bing search results.

Conclusion: How relevant is Bing for my online business?

Whether or not SEOs and digital marketers need to optimize specifically for Bing depends primarily on the target group. In Germany, Bing has a 9.5% share of the market for desktop searches, compared with 0.6% for mobile searches. Bing’s own analyses also show that its users tend to be male, older, have high-incomes, and a higher level of education than Google users.

To see how much Bing traffic your website gets, check out Google Analytics, for example. Google Analytics includes various reports on website traffic under “Acquisition” → “Source/Medium”. You can also check how your Bing traffic is doing compared with Google by looking at whether conversion targets are being met. If these figures look promising, and you have a target audience that is older, male, more of a desktop-user, and accesses your website mainly during working hours, it might be worthwhile investing in Bing Ads and dedicated SEO for Bing.