In the arena of search engine optimization (SEO) there’s been, historically, only one major player in the game: Google.
But the game is always changing, and a challenger is rising in the ranks: Bing.
What Is Bing?
If you’re not familiar with the search engine Bing, you’re not alone. Bing is Microsoft’s attempt to play in the search engine space, and they’ve been gaining market share over the past few years. While still not nearly as massive or powerful as Google, Bing deserves your attention from a business point of view.
Optimizing for Bing
Bing SEO is still a business strategy many firms have yet to develop fully. Bing has been consistently on the rise since 2008. If you look at marketing analytical studies (and don’t we all) you’ll see that more and more Bing activity is factoring into site traffic and use reports.
So, why are companies still neglecting the opportunity for growth in the Bing realm? Is it worthwhile? And, if it is, what’s the best approach?
Why the Neglect?
As with any particular optimization approach, finding and perfecting a niche on Bing can be a science unto itself. In-depth SEO research quickly becomes confusing and overwhelming. Attention to too many individual factors leads to an overall diluted message. The idea alone of constantly re-thinking SEO sounds impossible and, despite the potential opportunities and wins, many businesses still assume that a strong Bing presence isn’t worth the effort.
In short, as is often the case, it all comes down to money and time.
So…Is It Worthwhile?
Short answer: Absolutely. Bing’s market share topped the 20% mark in the first quarter of 2016, and it has a much greater presence than you might realize. Did you know Bing is not only linked to the worlds of Microsoft, Windows and Cortana, but it also powers Yahoo!, Amazon Echo and Twitter’s tweet translations (that’s quite a mouthful), just to name a few. There are also rumors in some circles that it could, maybe, possibly have ties to Apple as well (hmm).
Without getting too scientific (better yet, not getting scientific at all – let's get anecdotal), I've seen plenty of evidence with SpinWeb and our clients to suggest that Bing is worthy of our attention. As a data nerd, I like to study analytics and trends. I've noticed a growing share of organic search traffic coming in from Bing, for both SpinWeb and client sites, and I suspect this trend will only continue.
What's the Approach?
Bing’s doing just fine, but it still wants and needs more attention. Why not treat Bing like one of your clients?
Perhaps delving into what makes each search outlet tick is worthwhile for businesses who have the resources. But, as a starting point for the rest of us, why not just stick to what got your company where it is in the first place? Represent your product or service as well as possible, do all you can to elicit lots of positive feedback, show off your capabilities and be sure everyone knows your specialty. These are all basic good business practices, and they’ll all serve your company well in the Bing universe too. It’s kind of set up that way.
Think about “Client” considerations like these:
- Use Bing. It always pays to patronize clients’ businesses and recommended their services.
- Get to know Bing’s preferences, but stay true to your company’s vision.
- Check in with Bing regularly, but don’t be overbearing.
- Don’t expect immediate results. Give Bing some time.
7 Tips for Doing Business with Bing
1. Honesty is the best policy.
As with nearly anything else, just be honest. Bing works best when everything—this includes all visuals, of any kind—is tagged as specifically as possible as exactly what it is. “Funny”, “clever” and “trustworthy” are virtues, but they can come later. Who are you? What do you do? How do you do it? I’m looking for a service. Do you provide it? Represent yourself as clearly and directly as you can, and Bing will be more inclined to recommend you to others.
2. Work the room on social media.
A meaningful, productive social media presence – if you can, be both a passive observer and an active participant—is as important to Bing as a reassuring handshake. Effectively “work the room”, and you’ll find out all you care to know (and more) about how your name is being tossed around. Be gracious when you’re given a positive comment, and be tactful when you’re not. This is Golden Rule stuff, but in the competitive world of SEO it commonly gets buried under tags, keywords, links and domain characteristics. Bing pays attention to every mention, which means other current and potential clients do too.
3. Focus on your one-stop-shop.
Establish a flagship – your website! – and shuttle everyone back to it. Provide a one-stop shop for all of your services (especially your specialty), and Bing will pick up on the fact that folks are heading your way.
4. Tout your authority.
Believe it or not, Bing shows respect to elders. Have you been using your domain for a long time? You must know something, right? Make sure your content reflects this—under no uncertain terms. This holds true for strong alliances as well. As with any business partnership, keeping good company carries lots of weight.
5. Start making a deal at the first meeting.
If your company is the end of the line, that’s where the answer lies, and searchers need search no further. All Bing does is give referrals, and it knows how you’ve handled them. If each of the previously mentioned factors are properly handled, potential clients and customers have found you because you’re exactly what they’re looking for. At that point, just do your thing! How you’ve fared locally is big here, too. If clients and partners in and around your zip code are satisfied, it speaks volumes about a more personal side of business that has no digital equivalent.
6. Follow Bing's own expert advice.
Like Google, Bing provides its own extensive set of webmaster tools, which make it extremely SEO friendly. Everything you need is there. It’s like taking on a new partner or client who already has a strategy ready to go. Keep in mind that Bing is competing for business, just like you and everyone else. Its operators know what they need to do to succeed. They’re experts in their field, so listening to their expertise will benefit you greatly.
7. Take advantage of all the services.
Be sure to use Bing to search for all of your own business needs, familiarize yourself with all if its services, and take advantage of everything it has to offer: Bing Webmaster Tools, Bing SEO Optimizer and the Microsoft SEO Toolkit. They’re all user-friendly and accessible. They’ve set themselves up to succeed, and so have you. Put that notion to work for both sides. It’s a symbiotic partnership with little risk and lots of rewards.
It goes without saying that having a designated Bing SEO strategist on your team would be ideal, but a successful Bing campaign is certainly possible otherwise. Following the basic guidelines we've outlined here can go a long way toward that goal. It’s certainly worthwhile!
And if you need help, call for backup. I'm always down for a good SEO chat!