One thing we know for sure: Bing is not Google, but rather an attempt to create the world’s first “decision engine” described by many SE analysts as an “information portal.”
Bing uses different indexing algorithms and a redesigned SERP, which don’t always deliver the most relevant results, but do perform satisfactory in the fields most targeted by Microsoft: health, local, travel and shopping. These are the fields with the highest potential for revenue for both publishers and search engines (while they offer the search functionality for free for the general users, all search engines monetize through ads and the four industries above are the best paying ones).
It is important to know that Bing gives preferential treatment to these four industries: it becomes clear why some searches return irrelevant results, while others appear more relevant than Google. But this doesn’t mean that Bing changes SEO. In a whitepaper released June 1, 2009, “Bing – New Features Relevant to Webmasters”, the Bing Webmaster Center Team notes:
Ultimately, SEO is still SEO. Bing doesn’t change that. Bing’s new user interface design simply adds new opportunities to searchers to find what the information they want more quickly and easily, and that benefits webmasters who have taken the time to work on the quality of their content and website design.
SEO for Bing
However, since the algorithm is different and the search results are structured to fit Bing’s new schema, we can actually talk about “SEO for Bing.” Some of the aspects that influence indexing are described in the whitepaper mentioned above:
- Bing makes it easier to compete for broad terms, because it surfaces more categories automatically, increasing the number of results on the page and generating more content – SEO strategies will have to adapt to optimize content for these categories
- Keyword searches are presented with Quick Tabs that present branches of the parent keyword. This surfaces many websites that rank highly for those keyword combinations – content-rich sites will out-convert sites with lesser relevant text
- Multi-threaded SERP design surfaces many more pages that will be associated with the searcher’s primary keywords than would have surfaced in a single-threaded SERP list
- Bing removes duplicate results from categorized results lists, which allows other, lower ranked pages to be shown in the categorized results on its SERP – hence the poor quality of some results.
According to German SEO expert Tad Chef, who responded to a “Will Bing change SEO?” Twitter survey for SitePoint, Bing definitely plays an important role in the search field for US consumers:
Other respondents (like GlobalPatriot for example) take the “wait and see” approach.
“SEO for Bing” – Best Practices
Like any other search engine, Bing derives standard captions from unique titles and meta description tags. Writing relevant page titles and meta descriptions is a must, especially if you want to win visits from the searchers who use Bing’s “Document Preview” to be sure that the content they are seeking is actually available on your site.
Good content and SEO remain a very important aspect in developing a site, and this is also vividly encouraged by the Bing Webmaster Center Team.
Best of all, the type of SEO work and tasks webmasters need to perform to be successful in Bing haven’t changed—all of the skills and knowledge that webmasters have invested in previously applies fully today with Bing. Moreover, investments in solid, reputable SEO work made for Bing will bring similar improvements in your website’s page rank in Google and Yahoo! as well.
“Bing: New Features Relevant to Webmasters” does not mention other SEO practices: there is no mention of an algorithm, no mention of linking strategies that might work, nothing but “on page” SEO. However, we can safely assume that the SEO strategies that made a site rank high in Live’s SERPs still work. One thing is certain: Bing is based on Powerset, which attempted to rank sites based on semantic technologies. This could mean that “meatier” content has more chances than sites that focus more on visuals.