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5 Big Ways Bing SEO Differs From Optimizing For Google

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5 Big Ways Bing SEO Differs From Optimizing For Google


If Bing is treated as a punchline in your digital marketing circles, you may be missing out on your business’s greatest untapped opportunity.

Some tend to forget that search engines other than Google exist, but Bing can be a great place to gain visibility online.

Bing and Yahoo (which has been powered by Bing since 2010) together dominate 9.97% of the desktop search engine market share in the U.S.

And, more importantly, many marketers have noted that Bing traffic converts better than Google traffic.

This might have something to do with Bing’s average demographic being more mature and arguably having more money to spend.

Screenshot from: analytics.google.com, November 2017.

Bing also partners with dozens of other search engines, including Yahoo!, AOL, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, MSN, and Lycos.

In short, if you’re not searching on Google, you’re likely using a search experience that’s partially powered by Bing.

This doesn’t include voice search (Alexa and Cortana both use Bing) and the fact that Bing is built into most Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office and the Xbox, either.

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The good news is that if you’ve already invested in Google SEO, then you’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from seeing tangible results on other search engines, as well. That’s because Bing and Google share many of the same ranking signals.

Even so, there are key differences between SEO for Google and Bing – and you’re going to learn about those here.

1. Keywords

While Bing announced in 2014 that they no longer consider meta keywords for ranking purposes, search engines like Yandex and Baidu still do.

Google has worked to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and interpreting contextual cues from different websites.

We call this semantic search, which in part relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence (such as RankBrain) to help them understand a page’s content.

Google has said that RankBrain is the third most important factor in its ranking algorithm. This means that exact match keywords don’t matter nearly as much as creating comprehensive topical pages and articles for your visitors.

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Bing has been catching up when it comes to broad-matching keywords.

Their Webmaster Guidelines advise you to “Develop rich content based on keyword research that shows what search users the information they are looking for.”

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Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines are explicit about how Keywords can help you rank. Bing won’t rule out the possibility of using the meta keywords tag (which Google ignores).

Now, this doesn’t give you an excuse to abuse them or to start stuffing irrelevant keywords into the meta tag. But it does mean you shouldn’t neglect them entirely.

Bing also has a ton of keyword tools to help SEO pros, and you’ll find more detail than in some Google tools.

In Bing Webmaster Tools, they have a powerful keyword tool that shows you trends and related/suggested keywords. Bing even shows relevant ranking URLs.

seo for bingScreenshot from: bing.com/webmasters/help, May 2021.

Google: Create comprehensive pages backed by keyword research, but focus on topical relevance instead of exact match keywords.

Bing: Use straightforward keywords that exactly match the terms you’re targeting in Bing’s search results – just don’t over-optimize. Use their tools to help with other search engines.

2. Backlinks

Both Google and Bing are big on trust. They both value backlinks, for example, because these are signs that visitors found your content useful, trust the information you’ve provided, and now want to share it with others.

Google gauges trust by measuring the PageRank (the link equity flowing through backlinks) of domains linking to your content. High-PageRank links are weighted heavily, and a few of those are worth way more than hundreds of spammy, low-PageRank links.

Bing also values high-quality links, but they judge quality slightly differently. Backlinks aren’t above all other ranking factors, for Bing. They prefer backlinks from quality sites in smaller quantities.

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Like Google, Bing also likes internal links with relevant anchor text.

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On top of this – Bing removes pages from their index if they don’t have enough links, and doesn’t penalize buying links:

“That said, buying a link on a busy website can bring you direct traffic, so it does remain a valid marketing tactic.”

Again, be careful with this technique, as Bing says:

“Manipulating inbound links to artificially inflate the number of links pointed at a website can lead to your site being delisted from Bing index.”

Google: Authoritative backlinks and high-quality content are the most important indicators of a page’s authority when it comes to backlinks.

Bing: Fewer, more authoritative backlinks are very important, as are internal links with highly relevant anchor text.

3. Social Signals

Google has long denied that social signals play a special role in page ranking, despite a lot of speculation that it plays some small role.

Bing, on the other hand, has historically been very open about the importance of social signals:

“Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.

If you want to rank well on Bing, then you’re going to need to keep an ear to the ground in your social media circles.

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Baking social media into your SEO strategy is time-consuming, but well worth it if you want to optimize for Bing. Consider downloading a comprehensive social media listening tool that will help you find and tap into every conversation people are having about your business on the web.

Bing also offers an API to check out what’s trending on social media.

Google: Treats Facebook and Twitter pages like any other indexed pages.

Bing: Social signals are a key ranking factor. Search results will show you your Facebook friends’ and Twitter followers’ ratings of different businesses.

4. Multimedia Content

Bing’s been pushing the envelope when it comes to visual search, which goes hand-in-hand with one of their most touted features — “entity understanding.”

Essentially, Bing has the ability to accurately crawl and understand various types of multimedia content, such as video, audio, and images.

In a lot of ways, Bing is leading the pack with regards to visual search. When Flash was a thing, Bing could crawl and index Flash sites just fine.

Use high-quality images, and optimize them to help load time.

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Meanwhile, Google still relies most heavily on text-based content. High-quality images and videos do matter, but they aren’t weighted nearly as heavily as they are for Bing.

Google: Emphasizes text-based content.

Bing: More emphasis on multimedia content.

5. Other Technical SEO Differences

While the four differences listed above are probably the biggest differences separating Google and Bing, there are still some other small discrepancies that I should note.

For example, while you can generally rely on Google to index your website and trust that it will try to crawl and index every page of your site, Bing tends to focus on key pages and crawls your pages more infrequently.

Fortunately, you can help this process along by increasing your crawl rate using your Bing Webmaster Tools and clicking Crawl Control.

You can also submit your sitemap to Bing by clicking Submit a Sitemap in your Webmaster Tools or by including a path to it in your robots.txt—an important step, given that this is a ranking signal.

Another benefit to Bing is its API. It allows users to submit URLs to be crawled in bulk, something Google doesn’t have.

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In general, Bing is excited to help people rank and has a lot of tools to help you.

For more examples of technical factors that differ from Google, check out Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines.

More Bing SEO Resources Here:


Featured Image: Aleh Barysevich/Search Engine Journal

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Everything You Need To Know

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Everything You Need To Know

Google’s Freshness Update was a significant ranking algorithm change that introduced the trend of making the search results more precise and responsive to user intent.

The result of the update was the ability to add time as a relevance measure for search queries. This enabled Google to surface content that is trending, regularly occurring (like a yearly event), or subject to frequent updating (like new product models).

The Freshness Update was made possible by the infrastructure changes introduced by the Caffeine Update, which enabled Google to scale up web indexing at an unprecedented scale, enabling Google to surface the most up-to-date content that is literally up-to-the-minute relevant.

The algorithm update was announced on November 3, 2011.

Google’s official blog post announcement stated that the change impacted about 35% of search queries and noticeably affected approximately six to 10% of search queries.

That is a significant change in how webpages are ranked.

Why Is It Called Freshness Algorithm?

The “freshness” name for this update is directly taken from the official Google announcement:

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“Google Search uses a freshness algorithm, designed to give you the most up-to-date results.”

What Made This Algorithm Update Possible

A reason why Google released the Freshness Update was that the new Caffeine indexing system provided Google the ability to process more webpages faster.

The Caffeine infrastructure made it possible for Google to provide fresh results with a higher degree of relevance by using a more granular definition of what freshness means.

Specifically, Google determined that some queries have three different kinds of time-related relevance factors.

The three kinds of time-related queries are:

  1. Recent events: These are search queries that relate to trending or current events, generally news related.
  2. Regularly recurring events: Google’s announcement gave the example of annual events, elections, sports scores, TV shows, and corporate earnings reports.
  3. Frequent updates: These are time-related queries for topics that frequently update but aren’t events or trending topics. Examples are search queries for products that are frequently updated.

Freshness For Trending Topics And Recent Events

Trending Topics

Google shows fresh results for certain queries, particularly if they are trending.

Here’s an example with the keyword LIMoE, which is the name of a Google algorithm:

Screenshot from search for [limoe], Google, June 2022

LIMoE is a keyword phrase that didn’t exist until recently. In the above example, Google is showing the freshest search result.

Recent Events

When the algorithm was released there was no such thing as the Top Stories news section for current events.

Google simply showed news results related to recent events at the top of the search results.

Today, Google will show a Top Stories section when a search query has a recent event type of relevance component.

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For example, a search query for Ukraine surfaces the following search result:

recent events search resultScreenshot from search for [ukraine], Google, June 2022

The Top Stories feature is shown for recent events that are trending. This is an example of the Recent Events type of fresh result.

Freshness For Regularly Recurring Events

This kind of freshness relates to events that happen on a regular basis but aren’t necessarily trending.

Google used the example of a search query that is related to sports as a recurring event type of search query.

A search for NBA surfaces recent sports scores:

Sports Search ResultsScreenshot from search for [nba], Google, June 2022

The recurring events freshness type will have to be updated regularly. A sports event will have to be updated on a daily or weekly basis when the sport is in season.

A presidential election recurring event will have to be updated every four years.

Frequent Update Freshness

The third type of freshness is related to search queries about topics that are always updated, like queries related to product reviews.

For example, the Samsung Galaxy phone has been around for many years and has cycled through multiple models.

Ideally, when searching for Samsung Galaxy Review, the best result will be reviews about the latest models.

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This is a search result for that search query:

Product Review Search ResultScreenshot from search for [samsung galaxy review], Google, June 2022

Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)

Google’s Freshness Algorithm update was not the first time Google used time-related relevancy ranking factors.

In 2007, Amit Singhal (then a Google engineer and a senior vice president), introduced the Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) algorithm in an interview with the New York Times.

In a New York Times interview he explained what QDF was:

“Mr. Singhal introduced the freshness problem, explaining that simply changing formulas to display more new pages results in lower-quality searches much of the time.

He then unveiled his team’s solution: a mathematical model that tries to determine when users want new information and when they don’t.

(And yes, like all Google initiatives, it had a name: QDF, for ‘query deserves freshness.’)

…THE QDF solution revolves around determining whether a topic is ‘hot.’

If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current information. “

The difference between QDF and the Freshness Algorithm Update is that the QDF algorithm appears to have been more limited in scope and less nuanced than the Freshness Algorithm.

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In a Nutshell: The Difference Between QDF And Freshness Algorithm

  • QDF was examining if a topic was trending among news sites and blogs.
  • The Freshness Algorithm examined search queries to determine if they belonged to one of three categories of queries that required fresh results.

As mentioned earlier, the Caffeine web indexing system, introduced five months before the Freshness Algorithm, provided Google the ability to provide search results that were relevant to the minute.

The fact to remember about QDF is that the 2007 Query Deserves Freshness algorithm preceded the 2010 Freshness Algorithm.

What can cause confusion is that Googlers continued to make references to the concept that a Query Deserves Freshness well past 2010. So even in 2012, Matt Cutts was referencing the concept in a Google Webmaster Video that certain queries deserve freshness.

Nevertheless, they are two different algorithms that were introduced three years apart and apparently did different things, since the technology that made the Freshness Algorithm possible in 2010 (the Caffeine web indexing system) didn’t exist in 2007.

Is Fresh Content Necessary To Rank?

Not all search queries require fresh results. Many search queries are evergreen.

Evergreen, in relation to the information needs of search queries, means that the answer to some queries doesn’t change much, if at all.

An example of evergreen content is a recipe. The method for how to make chocolate cookies stays relatively the same for many years.

Sometimes, there are cultural changes that affect evergreen content, such as a trend to low fat or low sugar cookies, which might change how cookies are made.

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But the cookie recipe is still evergreen.

The Freshness Algorithm only kicks in when the search query fits into one of the following three categories:

  1. Recent events.
  2. Regularly recurring events.
  3. Frequent updates.

Myth Surrounding Fresh Content

There is an SEO strategy that recommends changing the date of publication or the modification date every week, month, or year because, according to the strategy, “Google loves fresh content.”

There are even WordPress plugins that will bulk update the post-update dates.

But the truth has always been that the “Google loves fresh content” idea is a myth.

Even three years after the launch of the Freshness Algorithm, Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, was still explaining that freshness is not always a ranking signal.

Matt explains this in a 2013 video where he answers how important freshness is for ranking.

“How important is freshness?

So there’s a little bit of an interesting twist in this question where it’s not just the case that something is frequently updated …in terms of the pages on your blog or on your site, that you automatically should be ranking higher.

So I wouldn’t have that interpretation of freshness. …not every query deserves freshness.

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So if it’s a navigational thing, if it’s evergreen content, sometimes people are looking for long-form content or doing more research, then freshness wouldn’t be counting as that much.

…we have over 200 signals that we use and the thing that I would not do, the pitfall, the trap that I would not fall into is saying, okay, I have to have fresh content, therefore I’m going to randomly change a few words on my pages every day and I’ll change the byline date so that it look like I have fresh content.

That’s not the sort of thing that’s more likely to actually lead to higher rankings.

And if you’re not in an area about news, if you’re not in a sort of niche or topic area that really deserves a lot of fresh stuff, then that’s probably not something that you need to worry about at all.

…there’s some content that’s evergreen that lasts and stands the test of time. It might be better to work on those sort of articles…

…if you write about video games, there’s a lot of like topical breaking news, then it is good to try to be fresh and make sure that you have, you know, content that’s especially relevant.”

Who Needs To Rank For Freshness Algorithm

Publishing new content regularly is generally a good strategy for many kinds of websites.

However, publishing up-to-date content for websites on certain topics is especially important.

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Websites on topics related to rapidly changing consumer trends, topics surrounding regularly occurring events, and sites about products that are frequently updated require a steady stream of fresh content.

The upside of publishing news and trending content is that it can result in high levels of traffic, sometimes immense amounts of traffic.

The downside is that after a couple of weeks it may no longer be fresh or relevant to the same search queries that triggered the massive traffic when the topic was trending.

The best thing to do is to understand if your content topics fit into one of the three freshness categories and if so, get writing.

If the content topic doesn’t fit into those categories, then the topic is evergreen.

And it’s not a bad idea to have a mix of both fresh and evergreen topics so that visitors arriving for the freshness have the opportunity to stay for the evergreen.

Knowing what the Freshness Update was about is still useful for developing a content strategy because Google today is better able to understand which queries deserve freshness, which creates opportunities for publishers to gain more traffic.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: A.Azarnikova/Shutterstock



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