By Mihaela Lica

Will Bing Change SEO?

By Mihaela Lica

Bing SEO.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:

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Other respondents (like GlobalPatriot for example) take the “wait and see” approach.

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“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.

  • Grammar Police

    Typo at the bottom of the second paragraph. :p


    Good SEO generally means following “normal” site building processes. Give your pages a title, uses headings, make a page about something. If you concentrate of providing a good experience to your users the rest will look after itself. If anyone is worrying about individual search engines then I would argue they need to spend more time building a site that people actually want to use and link to naturally.

    The search engines want to provide their users with the best possible results. They will continue to get better at this so the way I see it is if you want to be at the top, make sure your website is top in its niche. Sounds much easier to me than worrying about low level tweaks!

  • henrikblunck

    Blogercise >> You are so very right indeed. Content is king, and ruleZ

  • @Grammar Police: Thank you for your help. I hope you enjoyed the rest of the article at least.

    @BLOGERCISE: Thanks for your comment Blogercise. I did make it clear in my post that I was writing about “SEO for Bing” and not “good SEO” (the advice you’ve given to focus on content is certainly not something I disagree with). However, the reality is that there are indeed approaches that a webmaster can take to improve their ranking in Bing, and that’s the topic of this post.

  • I like the idea that “meatier” content is given more weight through Bing. This has always been my point of contention when writing online — a well researched article of, let’s say, 750 words is given equal weight to a similar length article that clearly shows no amount of research was completed, just opinion or pure conjecture on the part of the writer. I don’t have a problem with that type of writing, but some sort of differentiation should be made.

  • RR

    The design of any search engine (algorithm) will necessarily be based on some design assumptions about how to classify information and how people ‘make-sense’ of information. In order to maximise effective usage (whatever we mean my that) an awareness and understanding of those design assumptions is needed. In the end the application is a manifestion of the designers ‘recipe for success’ i.e. what they think makes a ‘good’ (whatever we mean that) search engine. Bing is probably ‘different’ rather than ‘better’

  • alexborsody

    i hope so, for the sake of every webmaster and anti trust theory in existence. but the reality is that it probably will not. cuil with an ad budget.

  • Pacoup

    Start my being more popular than insignificant and I’ll start looking out for your SEO techniques. In my opinion though, we should never ever have to do SEO. We don’t, we just use HTML text, good file names and titles, and some short descriptions and we awlays get top Google results for our site.

    Nobody should have to do SEO, and you don’t have to with Google. Nobody’s gonna think: Oh, I want to search for Health, I’ll use Bing, so I’d never recommend Bing as a search engine if it has a bias.

  • @Pacoup: “HTML text, good file names and titles, and some short descriptions” = SEO or “optimization” at best. :) Without the things you mentioned above, your Google rankings wouldn’t be very good.

    As far as Bing is concerned, I don’t think that categorizing results is biased – just different; maybe easier for some searchers? Who knows. Bing hasn’t convinced me yet, but because it is a new search engine, I say: give it time. I am certain they will refine the algorithm soon.

  • @alexborsody – I see what you mean. However, when I tested Powerset (an eternity ago) their algorithm convinced me that a search engine better than Google might emerge. What Powerset was missing was a rich index. I used to believe that the only company with the tech. capabilities needed to compete with Google was Microsoft. When Microsoft bought Powerset I said to myself: that was it, now let the games begin. I was very disappointed to see that Bing didn’t deliver what I expected: with Powerset’s technology and Microsoft’s database you really expect something ground-breaking. This didn’t happen. Bing is just reinventing the wheel: combining a Microsoft algorithm with some Powerset bits… we get less than we expected. Fortunately, the advertising budget saves Microsoft’s face in this case. Remember, Alex, this is just my personal opinion.

    As for Cuil: a different story. These are former Google employees – the algorithm might be similar to Google’s, we’ll never know.

  • @thearticlewriter – I have no proof that meatier content is given priority, I just assumed it was based on some statements from “Bing: New Features Relevant to Webmasters” and on the fact that they use some aspects of Powerset’s semantic technology.

  • @RR – different is the word! You nailed it! :)

  • Abdul Haseeb

    SEO tools really simplify the optimization of your website and lot of people have spent lot of time in this optimization. So now if bing uses the same Meta Data, it will be good for most of us.

  • gjperera

    I think I would take the wait and see approach first before drawing conclusions. However there is a very valid point in that it does have the potential for a shift in SEO. It looks like Microsoft might have finally got it…time will tell.

  • Arohan

    Don’t know if Bing will change SEO or not. That remains to be seen. However, it has been many many years of search refinements and you would have thought that by this time the major search players would have advanced their designs to a level where they would be able to figure out good relevant content on the web without needing the content creators to build around the search engine’s deficiencies (that is what SEO is). I hope, Bing’s semantic capabilities mean that we are finally getting there.

  • I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • The overall benefit is that competition is good, and to have alternative search engines, each with their own algorithm tends to level the playing field when it comes to “gaming the system” and puts the focus back on creating good content, which is what we wanted in the first place!

  • Dorsey

    I really miss the clustering search engine Vivisimo and only returned to Google when that was no longer available to me. That first page of categorized results really helped me home in on content that was truly relevant to me so that I didn’t have to continue on to page 30 to find what I was looking for. I don’t know why that particular SE went away, but that seems like a simpler solution for what Bing is trying to accomplish. Of course, simply revamping the past is no way to keep your name (and dwindling relevance) in the news so MS had to do something.

  • Anonymous

    well, I don’t think Bing can pose a threat to Google. But Bing results are accurate and doesn’t have the PR Ghost. However we will have to wait. One thing I must admit. Microsoft has not still learned that Possibility usability. Google has succeed because of their simple and usable designs. Perhaps Microsoft should learn about it first.

  • Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

  • Affordable web services.

    Yes i am agree with other above members i don’t know too much about SEO But rather than it will SEO.today SEO is a key to sucess in Any online business but too many peoples don’t know about it i think we need to launch a simple method to introduse everybody about SEO.

    Affordable web services.

  • Bing gives MSN a bit of a boost, but they are still far behind Google. I for one am rooting for Microsoft to catch up to Google. The SEO industry would greatly benefit from having more even search engine market shares.

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