Editor's note: This is the first in a five-part series looking at alternate sources for search and discovery online.
When I and other search engine optimization experts talk about ranking well in the organic search results, we usually mean snagging a top position in Google's listings. Similarly, when I write about optimizing websites according to today's SEO best practices, I'm usually referencing techniques that have been demonstrated to work with Google's search algorithms.
But, of course, there are other search engines besides Google. A notable one is Microsoft's Bing. It and other Microsoft-powered search engines currently control 16 percent of all online search queries, according to online research firm comScore's latest search engine market share report. While this number pales in comparison to Google's 66.9 percent share, 16 percent of all online searches is nothing to scoff at.
If you're interested in capturing some of this search volume for your own website, you first need to understand how Bing's search algorithms differ from Google's:
- Bing's algorithms are not as complex as Google's. As a result, they're more susceptible to spam techniques, making many SEO strategies that have long been devalued by Google still effective rankings catalysts on Bing. Bing is always trying to clean up its algorithms to better compete with Google, but parity is still a long way off. So for now at least, a good ranking can be achieved more easily on Bing than on Google.
- Bing takes longer to crawl websites than Google. Because Bing isn't as advanced as Google, it can take longer for changes made on the pages indexed by Bing to affect results. So, you may have to wait a while to see the impact of your Bing-specific optimization efforts.
- Fewer people optimize their sites for Bing than for Google. Because most webmasters optimize for Google, Bing's results are less competitive than Google's. This can represent a good alternative for site owners who are frustrated by being perpetually shut out of Google's more established search result listings.
To take advantage of the opportunity Bing presents, consider take the following steps to get your website ranked:
Use keyword-based anchor text that relates to HTML titles. Again, remember that Bing's algorithms are less complex than Google's, meaning that "old school" SEO techniques can still affect Bing's results. This is especially true for Bing's valuation of keyword-based anchor text -- for example, a link that reads "cheap car insurance quote" rather than "click here".
For the best results on Bing, try using anchor texts on inbound backlinks that relate to the HTML titles of the pages they're pointing at. Your keyword combinations don't need to be exact. Simply using related words should be enough to demonstrate a connection to Bing's indexing bots, while also protecting your site from any Penguin -like changes Bing could roll out.
Publish high value content regularly. Google and Bing do share some similarities in their love of high value content that's published regularly to their indexed websites. As in Google, the amount of fresh content on a website gives Bing the ability to identify a greater number of potential ranking keywords, as well as assess the relative value of one site against another based on the amount of updating.
To get good results with Bing's -- and Google's -- algorithms, it would be wise to set up a regular publishing calendar and stick with your scheduled content updates.
Maintain a balance between SEO for Bing and for Google. Although you can use somewhat dated SEO techniques successfully on Bing, it's important to keep in mind that you have only one website and that Google and Bing will both see the same content. For this reason, you should avoid going overboard on the techniques that still work in Bing, but not Google. Excessive use of these techniques -- including keyword stuffing your site's content or over-optimizing your backlink anchor text -- could trigger Google penalties.
Corrections & Amplifications: A previous version of this story misstated the percent of online search queries Microsoft-powered search engines control. Those sites control 16 percent of all queries.