I like Bing. There, I’ve said it, I like Bing. I’ve been drawn in by the cutesy background photography, the document preview function in the search engine results page (SERP), the unlimited image search scrolling and the fact that it isn’t Google. Don’t get me wrong, I love Google just as much as the next Googler but it’s nice to have a new fish in the pond. Yes, yes I still use Google as my first port of call most of the time as I find its results slightly more relevant than Bing’s but I’m really hoping Bing can turn this round in the near future.
But, perhaps there’s something we, as SEO’s and webmasters, can do to make sure we are appearing for relevant searches on Bing, to help it out a little…and benefit ourselves of course! Over the last few months, there have been articles knocking around outlining how to optimise your site for Bing, so I would like to present a summary of these techniques in one place to save you time tracking down all this information yourself.
OK so let’s get started…
What do I do with my keywords?
Here are some tips on what to do with keywords on your site to aid visibility in Bing:
- Incorporate keywords into the anchor text of inbound and internal site links
- Use keywords in the title attribute for internal links. However, please bear in mind that the title attribute is not meant to be a duplication of the link anchor text – it is meant to provide additional information to expand on the meaning of the link so the visitor has a better idea of what content they are being directed to. (As a side note: there is speculation that the title attribute carries no weight with the search engines so I say why not give it a test and see if it works for you?)
- Include keywords in URLs. Apparently Bing gives higher weighting to the domain name, meaning websites with keywords in the domain name or parameters may fare better. However, we would advise that you rewrite URLs to comply with this only if absolutely necessary and ensure you have an appropriate redirect strategy in place
- Include keywords in Title tags and page title header tags
What do I do with my inbound links?
Authoritative inbound links are essential. Although this is important for any search engine, Bing appears to act even more favorably toward inbound links, particularly those that are from reputable sites that have a high number of links themselves. However, this point has been disputed by some SEO’s. As always, I guess there’s a healthy amount of debate as to what works for one site compared to another, but having authoritative inbound links to your site certainly won’t harm your Bing rankings (and it will do you a world of good in Google)! Links from other relevant and good quality sites will also direct traffic your way so it is always worth the effort in gaining them.
What do I do with my URLs?
Here are some tips on how to optimise your URLs for Bing:
- Bing takes the top level domain (TLD) into account when applying the region filter. So when searching in the UK, .co.uk domains will rank better than .com. Therefore, if you are a UK business targeting UK customers and you have a choice when building your site, sit your site on a .co.uk domain
- Choose static URLs over dynamic URLs. However, should your site currently use dynamic URLs only rewrite your URLs if absolutely necessary as stated above
- Canonicalize the home page URL so that it doesn’t appear on multiple URL variations. For example, the home page on some sites may appear on www.abc.co.uk as well as www.abc.co.uk/index.html. Ideally, you want to have one, definitive address for every page on your site therefore avoiding duplication
- Use absolute links in your site navigation and for links within page copy. For example, when linking to a page in your site, link to www.abc.co.uk/bing-opimisation rather than the shortended version /bing-optimisation
- And lastly, not that there’s much you can do about it, but domain age is also an important factor in Bing’s ranking algorithm
What do I do with my copy?
Ensure the copy on your site is up to scratch:
- Create relevant page copy and update it on a regular basis. Bing appears to really like pages with at least 300 words of text. Rich media content, such as images and video, seems even more important on Bing given the way that it organizes and presents information in the SERPs
- Unlike Google, it seems that Bing does not consider the contents of Flash files when ranking sites – it is only to find a description if no other content is available. Therefore, it is important for Flash-heavy sites to write textual content in both Meta tags and body content so users will get a description, as well as a summary in Bing’s document preview function
- Avoid pages with nothing but a long list of non-contextual links. It’s best to provide some context with links
- Conduct a spot check of relevant keyword searches to see what information is appearing in your site listing’s “document preview” in the Bing SERPs. If it isn’t relevant or would appear to struggle in enticing a user to click through to your site then establish where the information is being drawn from and amend this text to make it more engaging. However, to make this easier it is rumoured that Bing may be bringing in a facility to manage the information shown in the document preview box in the future
I also recommend that you sign yourself up to Bing’s Webmaster Center to keep a beady eye on whether there are any issues when Bing crawls your site. Please also look over the image optimisation guidelines for Bing in this post from the Bing guys themselves.
Most of the optimisation techniques for Bing suggested above are similar to those we have been adopting for a number of years. It tends to be the weighting of the different ranking factors that varies across each of the engines. All-in-all, I think a technically sound, well-built site with fresh, relevant content, unique Meta tags, inbound links and strategic keyword placement will always be valued, by any search engine. The big change we have seen with the arrival of Google Universal and now Bing is the type of content that needs to be created and then optimised. It’s no longer just about the written word. Content needs to be created in a range of formats (images, video, audio for example) to satisfy search engines hungry to present information in new and intuitive ways.
What do you think? Do you have any other ideas or experiences of optimising for Bing?