Few weeks ago ComScore released some figures which suggest that the Bing & Yahoo alliance has increased its marketshare to 30.5% in the US which is almost half of the marketshare of Google. Moreover Bing has signed a deal with Baidu, a very popular Chinese Search Engine, to power its SERPs for English queries. This makes it absolutely necessary for webmasters and SEO professionals to ensure that their websites are well optimized for Bing and that they have the chance to get high rankings on the “powered by Bing” network.
In this article we will focus on how to optimize your site for Bing and we will provide 15 tips that can help you gain positions on the search results. As many of you will notice, some of these tips are common in SEO and will also work for Google. This is because even if the secret recipes of the major search engine differ, the main principles are the same when it comes to ranking websites.
1. Improve your CTR
Duane Forrester, Product Manager with Bing’s Webmaster Program, has made it clear several times in the past that Bing focuses on how users interact with the search results. In one of his interviews he had disclosed that “We are looking to see if we show your result in a #1, does it get a click and does the user come back to us within a reasonable timeframe or do they come back almost instantly?”. This was also confirmed at SMX East by Steve Tullis, who is Senior Program Manager at Bing.
This suggests that Bing takes into account the click through rate and that they use it as a Ranking signal. To read more on how to improve your CTR, I strongly recommend you to read the article “7 ways to maximize your CTR in Search Engine Results” where we explain all the basic techniques.
2. Reduce your Bounce Rate
Over the years, the Bounce Rate started to become more and more important in SEO since it was used by the search engines as a quality content signal. Bing not only takes into account the CTR but also it measures the timeframe between the click of the user on a particular search result and his return on the SERPs. If the total amount of time was less than a minute or a few seconds, this means that the particular result is not helpful for the users. Achieving times higher than 1 minute or 2 indicates that your website is compelling and useful for the users.
Also here we should note that both of the major search Engines, have developed browsers of their own (IE and Chrome) which allow them to gather anonymous information on how users interact with the various sites. All these “goodies” provide useful information to the search engines about which websites are of high quality and which are not. If you want to learn more on how to reduce your Bounce Rate read the article “The 8 ways to lower your Bounce Rate”.
3. Use Schema.org
Recently Google, Yahoo and Bing developed a jointly supported protocol called Schema.org which allows webmasters to mark up their content by using special tags in the HTML code. These tags allow search engines understand easier your content since by using them you can mark your images, videos, product names & descriptions, ratings & reviews, geolocation information, maps, addresses etc and define partially the semantic relationships between different components. If this protocol becomes widely used it will allow search engines to understand and rank the pages easier & better, develop new services and present the information in a more user friendly way.
The new protocol is designed by Search Engines in order to save them from spending money and resources. This is because it can sufficiently replace in a great extend the expensive machine learning algorithms that are currently used in order to understand the different “types” of data that are contained in each page. Similarly to what we said in the past about duplicate content, when a practice can help search engines reduce their costs, they tend to boost the websites that follow it and punish the ones that don’t. So even though it is early to suggest that schema.org can help you boost your rankings, I STRONGLY recommend you to start using it because very very soon, search engines will demand it by giving extra points to the websites that have implemented it.
4. Use Bing’s Webmaster Center
The Webmaster Center of Bing is a free service which allows you to see valuable statistics about your website, check how many impressions & clicks you had on SERPs, manage your crawling rate, submit sitemaps & RSS feeds, manage the way that Bing Indexes your website, check your Organic Traffic etc. Using this tool and analyzing its results is absolutely essential in order to improve your rankings and understand the flaws of your SEO campaign. Additionally by evaluating the provided information you can get useful insights on how compelling your website is in the eyes of the users.
5. Produce Quality Content
As most search engines, Bing tries to identify which pages contain high quality content and which contain thin content. While developing your website you must always have in mind that the only way to develop a successful & long-lasting SEO campaign is to focus on content and on user experience. So while developing your website, ask yourself the following questions:
Do my pages provide something unique to the user or there is nothing original/new in it?
Do I have unique hand written content or I just scrap content from other high reputable sites?
Are my texts well written or they are full of typos and grammar mistakes?
Do my pages get tweeted/liked/linked/shared by the users? Do I get their attention or do they ignore my content and bounce?
Is the text to images ratio balanced or do I have pages that contain too many images or too much text?
Did I take steps to remove the duplicate content from my site?
Is the content of my pages sufficient or is it too short or too long?
Do I provide original and unique product descriptions or do I stick to the generic product descriptions that most ecommerce websites use?
Quality content is the type of content that is unique, well written, answers clearly and sufficiently the question of the visitor and makes him/her interact or share it on social media. Even though the exact definition of what quality content is varies, these are the most important widely accepted characteristics that you should have always in mind.
6. Mind the user experience
The Search Engines no longer focus only on returning relevant results to the users but also they try to boost the ones that provide the best user experience. The most important aspects that affect the user experience are the design, the loading time, the navigation, the ads to content ratio, the proper use of visuals and images, the proper use of videos etc. Presenting your content on the right way is crucial nevertheless the above factors can influence the one another.
For example if you choose to include visuals and images in your pages, this will negatively affect your loading time. So balance is the key in this situation. Ask yourself what the visitors expect from your website and why they visit your pages. If you have a directory or a search engine service then you are more likely to use a simple and fast loading design because in these cases speed is crucial. Nevertheless if you have an ecommerce website then your visitors expect to find detailed descriptions, lots of pictures and perhaps videos that describe the products. Don’t think like a website owner or an SEO professional; try to understand what your target audience expects from your website and which user experience factors are more important in your case. You can read more on how to improve the user experience of your website by reading the articles “30 tips for developing an SEO Friendly Design” and “Basic Rules for an Impressive & SEO compatible Web Design”.