Many search engines exist that help users find the specific products, services and information they require. While Google has taken a seemingly unflinching grip upon search engine traffic worldwide, that doesn’t mean that it provides the best results for every situation. Likewise, a meaningful share of search engine users still opt to use other services.
Bing is one such example. Comprising approximately 7% of US search traffic and 3% of global search traffic as of Q3 2020, there are abundant opportunities for brands and businesses to enjoy via this platform. However, it is important to understand the differences between search engines like Bing and other search engines (whether they be more or less popular).
For those seeking to optimize their SEO experiences, what are the most popular ranking factors for Bing? Let’s delve into the specifics and outline what you should be concerned with when targeting Bing search results.
In a world where the bulk of search engine traffic comes via mobile devices, it should not be surprising that the quality of search experience for mobile users matters. Virtually no major search engine fails to take into account mobile optimization, but Bing does place a bit less of an emphasis on the practice than Google.
For the past two years, Bing has openly indicated that mobile-first indexing would be a priority. However, and unlike with some search engines, Bing does not necessarily penalize websites for a lack of mobile optimization when it comes to being featured in non-mobile search results.
What elements are evaluated by Bing with regard to mobile optimization? Navigational elements such as buttons and links, dimensions/page fit, font legibility and viewport configuration are the prime examples that websites need to optimize. Click here to find out how friendly your website and its pages are viewed by Bing.
Keywords are at the core of every search engine’s algorithms. Without these indicators, assessing the context of content would be impossible. With Bing, however, the specific keywords used are more important than on some other search engines.
Exact keywords are the name of the game in Bing’s ranking factors. As such, exact matches are more relevant to when, where and how you’ll be featured in Bing search results. While other search engines rely heavily on broad keyword matches and a variety of keyword-related synonyms, you’ll need to aim for precisely for the results you wish to rank in via Bing.
However, broader keywords, phrases and long-tail keywords can still provide some benefit in terms of ranking in Bing results – but not as much as they would through a search engine like Google.
Another meaningful ranking signal for optimizing search results in Bing are tags. There are several different types of tags, however – do they all provide benefit?
The short answer is no. Some tags actually provide improvements to your rankings when optimized, while others provide no benefits at all. Some can even harm you when used improperly.
Title tags are the single-biggest ranking factor in this category. As such, optimizing your page and content tiles to utilize relevant keywords and indicators is important. Likewise, using the right headings and subheadings when formatting said content can further bolster how prominently your content is ranked.
Other types of tags, such as meta tags, can actually be detrimental. Bing does not use these as ranking signals; instead, they assess these tags to indicate whether spammy behavior is being attempted. If you run afoul here, it can have a negative impact on your rankings.
While social media profiles and posts can be indexed on search engines such as Google, they do not provide direct SEO benefit with regard to website rankings. However, Bing is a completely different animal: social media content significantly impacts Bing rankings.
Bing has outright stated that sharing content on social media affects a brand’s ranking in relevant search results. This means that users sharing your posts and/or pages on social media can directly lead to increased visibility in relevant results on Bing.
This is a major deal for many brands that have an established social media presence and want to make further in-roads with audiences, as Bing is predisposed to elevating content that is shared often on social media.
Google once placed a lot of emphasis on domain authority, but it has since shifted more to page authority. Bing, however, still uses domain authority as a major ranking factor. While page authority is also considered, the age and even URL of a domain can have a beneficial impact on how well you rank in results.
Bing generally places a small emphasis on and defers somewhat to authoritative top-level domains such as .edu and .gov. Additionally, some studies have suggested that domains with exact keywords tend to do better in their respective search results than other websites.
As such, consider carefully your next domain name if you are planning to start a new website and wish to target Bing results. If you aren’t in such a position to transfer domains, then know that the age of your domain will gradually provide some benefit in this regard.
Click Through Rates
Whereas with Google, click through rates are not perceived as relevant in relation to rankings within a SERP, there is evidence to suggest that Bing uses CTRs in both ascending and descending ranking factors.
This means that initial visibility within a given set of search results that leads to a higher-than-expected CTR can actually help improve your rankings and garner even more visibility. Of course, if the content in question suddenly becomes less relevant to users and CTRs decline, the reverse may occur.
Unlike the other ranking factors on this list that have been verified explicitly by Bing, click through rates only have a correlation with rankings and subsequent movement. However, given the rather predictable patterns that emerge in many search results on Bing, it is generally safe to assume that CTRs impact rankings and performance.
A host of different elements impact SEO outcomes and visibility in Bing search results, but thankfully the search engine has been more transparent about key ranking factors than many of its competitors. These six ranking factors should all be key concerns when devising a customized SEO strategy for targeting one of the world’s biggest search engines.