If you search the web for ways to get traffic, you will see that a majority of advice revolves around Google. Of course I can understand this because they are the #1 search engine on the web.
Which I guess is why we all tend to take Bing for granted and Yahoo for that matter since they share the same search results.
Of course, ranking well in Bing does have many advantages. In my case, they provide a decent amount of traffic that is reliable.
In my opinion, it’s also a lot easier to rank well in Bing than it is in Google. Therefore, this article will be a lot shorter than the one I did on Google ranking factors.
Now, if you’ve found it easy to rank well in Google and see them as being a reliable source for traffic, I applaud you because you are amongst the fortunate.
Especially with Google’s ever changing algorithm, it’s rare that you see webmasters getting “reliable” traffic from Google these days.
In fact, even Duane Forrester (senior product manager with Bing’s webmaster program) has a very interesting blog post about Pandas & Penguins.
Aside from that, Duane’s blog offers plenty of useful tips on ranking in Bing. His transparency has also helped me better understand the way things work so I’m grateful for that.
Of course when people hear this, they probably start wondering whether they can use this information to game the system and outrank all their competitors…
Well, not really. You see Bing’s main ranking factor is user engagement — at least this is what we are being told. So, in other words, if people come to your site and spend a lot of time on it, Bing see’s this as a positive signal.
So now you’re probably wondering “how can they tell whether someone spends an x amount of time on my site?”
Well, this isn’t really too difficult.
For example, say you do a search and click on a result (let’s call this result site A), so you start browsing site A but can’t find what you are looking for and decide to hit the back button on your browser and return to the search results page. Now you click on another result (let’s call this other result site B) and this time you find what you are looking for.
Since you are no longer returning to the search results page, Bing assumes that you have found what you were looking for on site B but not on site A. Therefore, site B must be more relevant to the query than site A.
Of course I’m pretty sure that it takes more than just one person’s bounce rate to determine whether site A should outrank site B for a query. Instead, they might use the bounce rate of an x amount of visitors.
The audio clip below which is from SXSW 2012 event: “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” with Duane Forrester, Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan covers user engagement. Talks about pogo-sticking (which is the term used to describe searchers that click a result and then click back to the search engine) start at 8:35.
Social signals also play a role in Bing. If you fast forward to 44:22 of the audio file above, you will hear how social media can really propel your site to the top (this happened to one of my sites so I can confirm that it’s possible).
The Youtube link below also discusses social signals, as well as links which is another important ranking factor.
Of course, as with Google, you want high quality relevant links. So as I mentioned in my Google article, focus on quality and not on quantity.
Duane Forrester also has a blog post about SEO. I really like Duane’s take on this. Especially the part about how he see’s today’s SEO being more about pleasing users rather than search engines.
This obviously comes as no surprise after hearing the audio about pogo-sticking. But Duane also mentions click-rates in the article which I find to be an interesting factor as well.
In actuality, this makes sense because if people are clicking on your site it must mean that it’s relevant to the query, otherwise why would people click on it, right?
While Duane does talk very little about on-page SEO, I do want to stress that it is important because if your pages don’t contain the phrase that you want to rank for, how will the search engines know what the page is about? Of course, this applies to your visitors as well.
For example, the META title tag, descriptive URLs, on-page content is all important — the main reason why I wrote about SEO friendly shopping carts. That article covers H1 tags, META tags, URL rewrites and more.
So say for example, you want to rank for “purple Hyacinth flower seeds” you need to have this text on your page. In this article about Google ranking factors I cover on-page factors and yes, that information applies to Bing as well.
In fact a lot of the information that applies to Google applies to Bing. So when I work on a site, I try to please both engines. I just happen to find it easier to rank in Bing.
For example, on one of my sites I managed to rank in Bing for a highly competitive phrase on the 2nd day of opening the site — shocking right?
I actually went back to look at my traffic log to get this information and I couldn’t believe it myself, and even to this day I rank well for that phrase.
In Google that site doesn’t rank well for any highly competitive terms and it took me around 6 months to rank for some mildly competitive terms.
So, from day 2 my site has been getting steady traffic from Bing. With Google, it’s been on and off.
For example, any time I would make major changes to my site, Google would lower my site’s ranking position and I would have to wait about 2 weeks for the site to bounce back.
In some cases I would even lose my rankings completely and have to revert the changes in order to please Google.
With Bing my rankings rarely dropped and when they did, it was only for a couple of days — all went back to normal afterwards.
Of course I also have sites that didn’t do very well in Bing from the start. So it really depends on your site.
Personally, I just feel that Bing is more willing to show a site that they feel is relevant. With Google, they will only show your site if it is relevant and if meets all the ranking signals that they rely on.
So if you really want to do well in Bing, make sure that your visitors find your site useful.
For example, if you sell flower seeds, I recommend writing a blog and/or making videos about planting flower seeds or other topics that are of interest to those shopping for the seeds. In general this type of information will help you with Google as well because they like original content.
The point here is that you want to keep your visitors engaged with your site and you want them sharing your content.
Of course, the benefits of your site being useful reach far beyond Bing and Google.
For example, I see so many people cross-selling merchandise through how-to videos and blogs.
Just the other day I was searching Bing for a solution that can remove brake rust, and I came across a Youtube video that showed people how their liquid rust remover can do the trick in under 2 hours. So think outside the box and you should be fine on the web in general.
Also, if you haven’t read this article on my favorite free shopping comparison sites (Bing Shopping being one of them), check it out!