A Guide to Microsoft Bing Search & How to Optimize Your Site for It

Chima Mmeje

Oct 18, 202113 min read
Dog sniffing Microsoft Bing logo drawn on the ground

I think of Microsoft Bing as the less famous little sibling of Google. It’s not the biggest search engine in the world, but Bing will generate traffic and leads if you show it some love and attention.

You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t optimize for Bing. It's the second-largest search engine in the world. Bing has a global market share of 7% and a US market share of 5.87% as of September 2021. Granted, it might not seem like a lot, but when you consider that the total number of Bing visitors was 1.034 billion in January 2021, you can see that Bing still gets its fair share of the pie.

As an incentive, optimizing for Bing also means you’re optimizing for Bing-powered search engines like DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Ecosia, and Yahoo!.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to optimize for Bing search without hurting efforts to rank on Google SERP.

What Is Microsoft Bing?

Microsoft Bing is a search engine created and operated by Microsoft. It replaced former search offerings like MSN Search, Live Search, and Windows Live Search. Microsoft Bing provides web, image, video, and map search functions.

The first version of Bing was MSN Search, and it launched in 1998. MSN Search used search results from Inktomi and included an index, search engine, and web crawler. Windows Live Search replaced MSN Search in 2006 and rebranded as Bing three years later.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer first introduced Bing in May 2009 as a replacement for Live Search at a conference in California. Three months later, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced a partnership where Bing would power Yahoo Search.

Unlike Google, Microsoft made its algorithm open source in 2016, so everyone knows what goes into ranking for Bing.

Why Should You Optimize for Bing SEO?

Here are a few reasons to pay attention to Bing:

Bing Makes Up a Fifth of All Desktop Traffic

Yahoo and Bing take 15% of the desktop search market. Bing has powered Yahoo searches for years, which means that search results in Yahoo are similar to Bing. Optimize for Bing, and you’re optimizing for Yahoo.

There’s Lower SERP Competition

I remember back in the early days of starting my website. While it took eons to rank on Google SERP for my desired keywords, it happened on Bing much more quickly. Most SEOs focus on Google because they control the search market. Hence, there’s less competition on Bing and more opportunities to rank.

Also, Bing traffic converts really well. Shocking, right? One argument is that Bing has a more mature demographic (aged 35+) with higher disposable income. If you have access to analytics on Bing and Google, you might notice similar stats on your end.

Tweet about hearing someone say they get most of their inquiries from Bing

Bing Is Open About Its Ranking Factors

Unlike Google, Bing is open about how it crawls and ranks websites. According to Bing webmaster guidelines, factors such as click-through rate, user engagement, and social signals are important if you want to rank on Bing search.

Bing News

Bing News is a news aggregator powered by AI. After Microsoft discovered that 60% of people only read the news headline, they added smart labels to mobile devices. It functions as topic tags to help users explore relationships between news stories. Other labels include fact-check tags and publisher logos.

Results from Bing News include: 

  • Article URL
  • Image of the news article
  • Provider information
  • Related news and categories
  • Date added
  • Sorting and filtering options to find specific results

Bing Mobile

With Bing Mobile, you can conduct searches on your mobile device through the mobile app or browser. The quality of search results is the same as the desktop website with some additional features.

Features of Bing mobile app include:

  • Predictive text
  • Speech recognition
  • Image search
  • Directions to a location
  • Search results with address and phone number
  • Directions with a GPS receiver
  • Weather forecast
  • Built-in browser
  • Bing Rewards

Bing Analytics

Tweet about Bing Analytics tools

Bing Analytics is a powerful Webmaster Tool that combines data from Bing and Yahoo. You get data on clicks, impressions, and rankings for the keywords that drive traffic to your site.

Use Bing Analytics to perform the following tasks:

  • Submit your sitemap
  • Control crawl speed
  • Demote deep links
  • Setup geo-targeting for local SEO
  • Connect app store and social accounts
  • Understand how Bing views your website

Bing Advertising 

Also known as Microsoft Advertising, it’s a service that lets businesses advertise their services, products, and websites in Bing search results. Microsoft Advertising is a type of pay-per-click advertising that shows sponsored listings alongside organic results.

33% of Bing users have a Bachelor’s degree, and 38% earn $100,000 or more annually. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your advertising dollars, consider Bing Advertising. Their ads also reach 44 million unique desktop users not covered by Google Ads.

Microsoft rebranded Bing Ads to Microsoft Advertising in 2019, but some marketers also call it Microsoft Bing Ads.

Bing Ads are affordable when compared to Google Ads. You can control costs by setting a maximum daily spend. In addition, Bing charges for ad clicks, which means you only pay for leads. Finally, Bing Ads uses audience targeting and keywords to show your ads on relevant search results.

How Does Bing Find & Index Your Site? 

Sitemap

Bing uses sitemaps to find URLs and content for your website. A sitemap is a file that provides information about URLs, pages, and other content on your site. It tells the search bots or crawlers which files and pages are important on your site. A sitemap also provides information about when you last updated a webpage and alternate language versions of the page. 

Bing recommends using an XML sitemap file, although they also support mRss, RSS, and Atom 1.0. Submit your sitemap using the Bing Sitemap tool. You only have to submit it once for Bing to crawl it regularly.

Further Reading:

Content Submission API

Use the Content Submission API or Bing URL to index new, updated, or deleted content on your site. You can submit the URLs by adding them to your sitemap or through Bing Webmaster Tools.

Robots.txt

Tweet about Bing SEO

The robots exclusion standard or robots.txt is a standard that tells Bingbots which URLs the crawler can access on your site. It’s mainly used to manage crawler traffic. For example, telling Bingbot not to crawl members-only pages on your site.

Bing crawlers follow internal links within your site and external links from other websites to find new content on your site. Bing recommends linking every page to at least one crawlable page.

Bing SEO vs. Google SEO: What’s the Difference? 

SEO experts and digital marketers constantly compare Bing vs. Google regarding shared functionalities like local search, ranking criteria, off-page, and on-page signals.

Here’s a table showing the major differences between Bing and Google

Feature

Bing

Google

Backlinks

Not a significant ranking factor 

Massive ranking factor if you want to show up on SERP

Social signal

Major ranking factor for off-page SEO and to build topical authority

Not as important

Organic search ranking

Favors older websites with official domain extensions such as .edu and .gov

Favors any website with superior content

Algorithm 

Transparent about ranking factors

Not open about ranking factors

Video search

Better video search with large thumbnails that allows you to play videos without leaving Bing

List of videos with a small thumbnail that redirects to the video location. Usually favors videos on YouTube over other platforms

Shopping suggestions

Not as robust as Google

Better shopping suggestions compared to Bing. Google can return products with the best prices online from a variety of websites

Functionality

Not as many core features as Google

Same functionality as Bing but with added features like Flights, Books, Scholarly literature, and Finance 

Indexed pages

No official figures, but it’s estimated to be between 8-14 billion

Over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size with hundreds of billions of web pages

Keywords

Optimizes for exact match keyword in meta tags and content

Smart enough to understand intent and rank the page for the desired keyword

Mobile indexing

No plans to adopt mobile-first index

Adopts a mobile-first indexing policy

Image SEO

Superior to Google search with higher-quality images. More filtering options to search by color, image size, and type

More images for viewing than Microsoft Bing

Local search results

Marginally wider radius

Prioritizes actual location when showing recommendations and local search results

Ranking factors

Quality & credibility

Relevance

User engagement

Page load time

Freshness

Location 

E-A-T

Keywords 

Search intent

Page speed

Location

Mobile usability

Relevance

Bing is behind Google on how they evaluate link features. While Google crawls every content on your website, Bing removes pages from their index that don’t have enough link value to rank on search results. Therefore, you need at least one backlink for a page to rank on Bing.

Organic Ranking

Both Bing and Google give preference to larger brands because these brands attract more branded links. However, Bing might have issues differentiating brands from similar competitors. Bing tends to favor old websites with official domain extensions like .edu and .gov. On the other hand, Google will rank popular or commercial websites with quality content.

Content 

Bing looks at content the same way they look at websites. They favor content that has built a reputation over a more extended period. According to content marketer Maria-Cristina Muntean, Bing also prefers content with multimedia such as videos, high-quality images, and audio. Infographics are great if they add value to the original content.

Conversely, Google rewards websites that publish new or updated content. They’ll also rank your content whether it includes multimedia or not. However, both Bing and Google agree that you should optimize for keywords and search intent.

Technical Factors

Technical SEO and on-page factors play an essential role in both Bing and Google ranking. To rank a page, Bing relies on exact match keywords in meta tags, page titles, and other related keywords. Google’s algorithm is more evolved. If the content matches keyword intent, it can look at keyword variations and synonyms and rank a page for the right keywords.

Social Signals

Google doesn’t use social media authority as a ranking factor. Instead, it’s a way to drive traffic to your website. On the other hand, Bing emphasizes social media as a ranking factor. As a result, content ranking on page one tends to have many likes, retweets, and shares. 

How to Optimize Your Website for Bing SEO

Claim Your Business on Bing Places 

Visit Bing Places for Business to claim your business listing. Similar to Google My Business, the goal is to deliver relevant local search results to users. Don’t forget to update your site index after registering your business with Bing.

Get Verified

If you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a decent chance that you’re listed on Bing. Only add your business if you can’t find a listing for it. Next, Bing sends an authorization code to verify your listing. The code can be sent via phone call, SMS, post, or email. Bing will publish your listing after verification is complete.

Add High-Quality Images

Since Bing favors listing with multimedia, add high-quality images of your business premises, products you sell, and anything that could encourage a click through to your website.

Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews

Reviews are the lifeblood of local businesses. Prospective customers read online reviews to ascertain the quality of your products and get insight into the experience they’ll have with your business. Encourage customers to write reviews about their experience and to share pictures. 

However, don’t fear negative or less-than-perfect reviews. Your business looks suspicious if everyone leaves a 5-star review.

Use Bing Webmaster Tools URL to Index Your Site 

After registering your business, it’s time to index your site with Bing’s Webmaster Tools. First, sign up for a business account with your Microsoft login. 

Next, verify site ownership using the XML sitemap. Alternatively, you can insert a link to the sitemap in the robots.txt file that looks like this:

http://yourwebsite.com/sitemap_location.xml

Tag & Categorize Your Site

Categories and tags make your site more discoverable when users search for specific queries. Organizing content also makes it easier for Bing’s algorithm to understand your content. Using WordPress CMS, you can easily add categories and tags to every page, not just blog posts.

Include Multimedia Content

Add relevant images and videos when creating content. Bing extracts information from captions, titles, transcripts, and structured data. However, add the info as Html text, not embedded in multimedia. 

Use Alt image text to describe what the image is about for people that cannot see pictures on pages. Adding captions and subtitles for videos provides context for Bingbots when crawling pages on your site. Optimize images to reduce file size without affecting quality.

Further reading:

Use Relevant Keywords 

Bing’s algorithm is not as evolved as Google’s. Instead, they rely more on using exact match keywords. Now, the goal is to optimize for Bing without hurting Google SEO efforts. So, I wouldn’t advise you to add keywords everywhere for the sake of ranking. Instead, use relevant keywords a few times, optimize for secondary keywords and make sure you’re using descriptive text relevant to the primary keyword.

For example, if you were talking about “Bing vs. Google” you wouldn’t spam the content by using the keyword repeatedly even when it doesn’t make sense. Instead, you’d add related topics such as these below. 

Bing vs. Google mind map

You can find Mind Maps by navigating to Topic Research in Semrush, which is located under the Content Marketing section on the left-hand sidebar. Enter a keyword, and the tool will generate a list of topics and semantic entities to include in the copy. Then, navigate to Mind Map for a visual representation of the data.

Keep in mind that any red topics on the Mind Map are subtopics that are trending, so it may be a good idea to take those into consideration during your research.

Semrush Topic Research tool

Find Out What Ranks

with the Topic Research Tool

ADS illustration

Backlinks are essential for any search engine. However, Google prioritizes link quality over quantity. That means a webpage that has five backlinks from a high authority site will have a higher PageRank than a webpage with hundreds of low-quality backlinks.

According to Bing, links are a sign of popularity, telling them to trust your content. In the past, you could rank on Bing by building many backlinks to your site because quantity trumped quality. But that has changed recently as Bing now favors organic, quality links from websites they already know and trust.

Semrush Backlink Analytics tool

Semrush has the fastest backlink discovery tool in the market. You can use the Backlink Analytics Tool to analyze links in your profile and perform a link audit. You can also review your competitor backlink profile to see what they’re doing right.

Further reading:

Write High-Quality Content for Bing 

Bing looks at content quality as a ranking factor. Beyond keyword matching, the content has to be:

  • Useful
  • Authoritative
  • Well-written
  • Well presented

Regarding authority, Bing considers signals from cited courses, social networks, author identity, and name recognition. Improve E-A-T on your website, and you’ll improve authority on Bing.

To access the utility of the page, Bing checks if the content is relevant to the keyword intent. In addition, the content must have depth, feature supporting information to back up claims, and include media such as images, videos, and graphs.

For presentation, your content should be findable, easy to read, and include accessible design. If you feature ads on your website, make sure the ads don’t interfere with the user experience.

Use Schema Markup to Help Bing Understand the Page Better

In 2011, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo announced the joint alliance of schema.org to make search listings richer through structured data.

Schema markup is a vocabulary of microdata you add to your HTML to improve how search engines display your pages in the SERPs. It enhances your webpage for the rich snippet shown under the page title.

Nike review schema

For example, the first result shows a star rating with the number of reviews. It also shows the availability of the product. You can add these details with schema. Meanwhile, the second example doesn’t have rich snippets and only displays a meta description

You can add schema markup through Schema.org, OpenGrapgh, or RDFa. Then, verify your schema using Bing URL Inspection.

Integrate Social Media Profiles

Since social signals are signs of authority on Bing, it’s important to integrate social media as part of your Bing SEO strategy. Use the Jetpack plugin to connect your social media accounts with WordPress. After installing Jetpack, you can automatically share your blog post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms where your audience hangs out.

Semrush offers a Social Media Toolkit for:

  • Ability to publish content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google My Business
  • Social editorial calendar to create and manage campaigns 
  • Social analytics to track growth and content performance
  • Social advertising
  • Social benchmarking
Semrush Social Media Toolkit

You can find this feature under the Social Media dropdown.

While Free members can access all available features, there are limitations on the number of connected profiles based on what type of account you have. If you are simply using the tool for your own business, a free account should be perfectly fine. However, if you are doing work on behalf of clients, it may be worth looking into paid account capabilities to see if it would be useful to you.

Final Thoughts

More conversions and less competition — what's not to love about Bing?

While Microsoft Bing is not as famous as Google, it gets millions of visitors each day. If you want quality traffic and leads that convert, include Bing in your SEO strategy. There’s less competition and straightforward rules to follow. 

Claim your listing, use lots of multimedia content, connect your social media accounts and create high-quality content. Most of the tactics that work on Google also work on Bing to kill two birds with one stone if you do it right.

Author Photo
Chima MmejeChima is an SEO content writer and content strategist who specializes in building and executing topic clusters for SaaS companies.
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