The Ultimate Guide to Bing SEO

Bing SEO Guide

According to a July 2013 survery by comScore, Bing has 17.9% of the US search market-share. Still, a lot of English-speaking people either don’t care about search engines other than Google, or they think what’s working for their site on Google should work on Bing as well.

This, along with the fact that there aren’t many in-depth articles at the moment that cover Bing SEO, I’ve decided to create a complete Bing SEO guide for beginners. This guide will cover everything from getting indexed in Bing to improving your organic Bing rankings.

What’s common about content

Like Google, Bing also prefers unique, high-quality content and content-rich sites. Bing still isn’t as good as Google in terms of removing pages having little to no value from their SERPs. So, even when they want detailed, quality content, they’re not always technically able to place those at the beginning of their SERPs.

I’ve noticed that Bing gives significantly more importance to keywords in title, URL and meta description than Google. Google has started focusing more on off-page factors and it generates dynamic snippet descriptions depending on user query by scanning through the entire page and doesn’t just rely on the meta description of the page to understand its relevance with the search query, unlike Bing.

If a web page lacks a meta description, Bing in fact shows it as an error in its SEO Analyzer tool.

Content

Ideally, you should still be producing quality content to rank high in Bing. A few indicators help Bing understand that your content has value:

  • Length of your content.
  • Whether it includes images, videos and other types of media.
  • Whether it is rich with user feedback, such as numerous relevant comments in case of a blog post, or multiple replies to a forum thread.

Technical Best Practices for Publishing Content

  • Effectively use the <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <p>, <strong>, <i> etc. tags. Bing loves them!
  • Bing gives meta descriptions a very high priority. It advises webmasters to keep the description text between 25 and 150 characters in length. Additionally, meta descriptions are a great way to give searchers a preliminary idea about your page, and you shouldn’t waste this opportunity by using the meta description that’s same as the title tag of the page, or simply by leaving the meta description blank.
  • You can add meta keywords. They hold little, but definitely some value. Bing says you should be fine with meta keywords unless you abuse them.
  • Keep the page titles within the <title> tag between 5 and 65 characters in length. Don’t use any of the following special characters in title text: ‘”<>{}[]()
    Make sure the page titles are unique for every page.
  • If you’re targeting a specific language, you can specify that in your page’s <head> section using the following code: (It’s for US-English)
    <meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en-us" />

Now that you already have Bing-optimized content on your site, let’s head on to the next section.

Indexation

Once you have numerous pages up in your site, you want them to be indexed by Bing. There are a few things you should keep in mind:

Crawlability

Before Bing can index a page of your site, it needs to be able to find it. Think about WordPress pages. If you create a page from your WordPress dashboard and there are no internal or external links to it, search engines won’t be able to find it.

A good way to make sure that your site’s internal pages get indexed is creating and uploading a .xml sitemap (containing links to your site’s internal pages) to Bing Webmaster Tools.

You can include important pages in your navigational menus as well to get them indexed. Keeping a ‘recent posts’ type widget on your sidebar or footer allows search engines to quickly discover and index fresh content in your site.

Also, ensure that the pages in your site that you want Bing to index aren’t blocked by a robots.txt file. Similarly, you can use a robots.txt file to block Bing from crawling and indexing unwanted pages in your site.

Site Structure

Give importance to your site structure while setting up your website. Invest on a structure that relies on text-links based navigation. Even deeper pages shouldn’t be more than 4-5 clicks away from your homepage.

With a good site architecture, it’s a lot easier to impress both users and search engine spiders. In addition to a .xml sitemap, you can try creating a HTML (or dynamic) sitemap that’ll help users navigate across your site.

Also, Bing prefers clean URL/permalink structures, alongside short and concise URLs.

Internal Links

Link to your best pages from other important pages in your site with relevant anchor-texts. They don’t have to be exact-match, just make sure they’re relevant to the page you’re linking to.

“Click here for our best post” might be not be bad for SEO (as you’ll build up some generic anchor-texts), but it’s bad for user experience. Instead, anchor-texts should provide a hint about the pages that they will lead users to.

Anchor-texts are also highly valued by search engines as they act as an off-page relevance factor.

Meta Robots Tag

The <meta name=”robots”> tag can be used  in many ways. You can use the following code in the <head> section of the duplicate pages in your site to resolve the duplicate content issue:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"/>

Basically, the ‘noindex’ and ‘nofollow’ attribute values tell a specific user-agent (‘robots’ in this case) to not index the page and not follow any of the links on the page respectively. If you want specifically Bing to follow what you specify in your page’s <head> section, replace ‘robots’ with ‘bingbot’.

So, it’s usually a good idea to noindex the pages you don’t want to be indexed by search engines.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster Tools

 

Bing Webmaster Tools offers site owners a variety of useful tools and data, while allowing them to help Bing crawl and index their sites better.

You can see lots of stats about your sites in Bing Webmaster Tools home, and when you open individual site dashboards.

So, let’s take a look at some useful and some really cool features of the Bing WMT.

Sitemaps

You can submit .xml and other types of sitemaps through the Bing WMT. It’s a fairly easy process, and Bing doesn’t take much time to crawl the URLs listed in your sitemap. Unlike Google’s sitemap feature, you can submit a sitemap from any URL, not just from your own site.

Ignore URL Parameters

Bing has a slightly different policy about placing rel=”canonical” within your pages. So, to avoid duplicate content issues resulting from URL parameters, they’ve created a whole new module called ‘ignore URL parameters’ to help you out with those duplicate content issues.

Generally, you just submit the parameters causing issues through it, and it’ll take care of of the issues soon enough.

Crawl Control

Bing offers a really cool crawl controlling feature. You can actually determine the crawl rate of bingbot throughout the day, specifying preferred crawl rates in a faster-to-slower scale for each hour of the day.

There are numerous presets as well, so you can just choose one and let Bing determine the best crawl rate settings for your site based on usage data. For example, let’s assume your site gets the most number of visits from 5AM to 9AM. So, if you choose that preset, Bing will set a very low crawl speed during that time, and slowly increase that till the fastest speed for distant time periods.

Disavow Links

You can disavow links at a URL, domain, and directory level. Unfortunately, you need to submit the links, or domains, or directories, one by one, even though you can export the list of already disavowed links along with their dates.

Disavowing is a method of telling search engines not to take unnatural backlinks into account while ranking various pages of your site. It’s an advanced feature and Google warns users that they should use it very carefully, though Bing doesn’t say anything like that.

Disavowing links shouldn’t be your number 1 priority when you detect spammy backlinks to your site. You should always attempt to remove those links, and resort to disavow only when you can’t take those links down.

Block URLs

A very useful feature of the Bing WMT, it allows you to block individual pages and whole directories of your site from being shown in Bing search results. These blocks remain in place for 90 days, and expire after that.

So, if your blocked page or directory is still live after 90 days, chances are it’ll be re-included in Bing’s search results.

You can just block the current pages along with their caches from being indexed, or just block cached copies.

Page Traffic

It shows your highest performing pages on Bing along with their individual statistics including clicks from search, number of search appearances, and CTR.

It includes combined traffic data from Bing and Yahoo!.

SEO Reports

It’s Bing’s own version of Google’s HTML Improvement suggestions. It basically scans through your site and detects whether there are duplicate page titles, more than one <h1> tags per page, no meta description etc.

Inbound Links

You can take a look at the raw backlink counts for the last 30 days or a custom time period, as well as check which pages of your site got the most number of backlinks. Once you click on those internal page URLs, you get a list of external pages pointing links at those internal pages along with their anchor-texts. It’s very useful, but like you can guess, only includes backlinks Bing is aware of.

Keyword Research

It basically allows you to find query volumes for phrases and keywords from Bing’s organic search data.

A good aspect of this is that you can enter multiple keyword phrases at a time, and customize the search by time period, location and language.

SEO Analyzer

It basically lets you check your pages against the best on-page SEO guidelines provided by Bing. It’s still in beta at the moment and I didn’t find it very useful.

Site Move

Another cool feature, it let’s you tell Bing about site movements. For example, if you change the URL structure of your site, you can specify the source and destination URLs at a directory level.

You can also specify subdomain level and domain level URL movements.

User Interaction

Bing have claimed numerous times in the past that they place huge importance on how users interact with their search results. A low pogo-sticking rate is likely to help pages move up the Bing SERPs.

So, to benefit from this, you need to create pages that,

  • Satisfy searchers.
  • Provide what they’re exactly looking for.
  • Present information in an easily consumable/obtainable way.
  • Ensure good readability and have proper formatting.
  • Include images, videos and other media where necessary, improving user experience.

Social Media Signals

Bing admits to giving social media signals importance in its algorithms in their Webmaster Guidelines.

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.

However, raw like counts, tweet counts and Google +1 counts are least of Bing’s interests. They care more about the social authority of the content author and who share the content.

In the end, it comes down to not only great content, but viral content. So, as long as you produce content that gets liked and shared across social media sites by people, you should be fine with this one.

Structured Data

At the moment, Bing is really pushing webmasters to implement structured data / rich snippets markup in their website.

At Bing, enabling users to make key decisions through visually appealing, information-rich search results is a key component of our search experience. As a content publisher, you can contribute to – and stand out in – this experience by annotating your structured content using any of the following supported specifications.

They at the moment support:

Backlinks

Bing inevitably uses backlinks to determine page authority. Bing is however different from Google in how they treat significant amount of backlinks.

Right now, it looks to me as Bing is focusing far more on relevance and social signals than Google. It’s easier to rank in Bing for continued periods just with page level relevance and good user interaction signals.

Quality vs. Quantity

I’ve also experienced that Bing response less than Google to massive amounts of low-quality links. Both search engines prefer high-quality organic links, but it’s a bit harder to hit the first page of Google than Bing with just a couple of high-quality links. So, Bing seems to value less, but high-quality links more.

We’re in a co-relation dominated industry, so we can’t really be certain about everything we say. But, according to my experience, even though both Google and Bing prefer high-quality links, Google is more inclined towards the number of page-level backlinks than Bing.

Links help Bing find new content and establish a vote of confidence between websites.  The site linking to your content is essentially telling us they trust your content.

Types of links that Bing absolutely hates

  • Reciprocal links – backlinks exchanging for the purpose of search engine algorithm manipulation.
  • Paid links (small scale)
  • Paid links (large scale) – those who sell links at a large scale are commonly known as link farms.
  • Spammed links and hacked links (links posted on hacked sites)

 How to build links

We won’t discuss about the things that require tainting your hat, so we’ll mainly focus on how to build links organically. Here are a few Bing-compliant ways of building natural links:

  • Produce useful, high-quality content that people enjoy reading, sharing, and linking to.
  • Grow your site as an authority in your niche. Build your site as a trusted source of great content.
  • Enable social sharing options for your visitors. Social shares increases the exposure of your content and amplifies the organic link building process.
  • Sometimes, it’s okay to approach the webmaster of a similar site and ask for a link to a piece of authoritative content in your site. People are keen to link to high-quality content.

External Links

Bing advises you to be “careful” about the sites you link out to. It also recommends webmasters to keep the number of external outbound links on a given page within a reasonable limit.

Outbound links to spammy sites can be even more harmful than spammy inbound links. So, be careful about who you’re linking out to. Also, many outbound links are fine, as long as they’re relevant and not too many.

Site Speed

Bing values user satisfaction, and as faster loading websites lead to better user experience, Bing prefers them over slow sites. Slow load times can easily piss off your visitors, and unless you’re not the only person on earth providing the information they were looking for, chances are, they’ll simply move on the SERP.

If you’re using WordPress, take a look at this detailed guide to making WordPress sites significantly faster.

You shouldn’t however be crazy about site speed all the time, so much that you start getting bothered about every millisecond of delay in page loading. Bing thinks that faster loading pages are better, but not at the cost of important functionalities.

Faster is better, but take care to balance absolute page load speed with a positive, useful user experience.

Co-citations / Co-occurences

Co-citations or co-occurences refer to the text surrounding the links that point at your site.

While there’s no concrete way to tell that Bing cares about co-occurences, I’d say I didn’t get bad results from a test campaign I ran that had the motive of extracting the co-relation between co-citations and Bing organic rankings.

Generally speaking, regardless of whether a search engine cares about co-occurences or not, naturally gained contextual links are supposed to be surrounded by relevant text a lot more than artificially gained backlinks.

This post discusses a few ways you can leverage co-citations.

Bing Penalties

How can I finish a post like this without discussing about penalties?

You might not know, but Bing actively penalizes sites that violate their webmaster guidelines. For sites that got de-indexed due to a penalty, the Bing WMT dashboard shows a ‘blocked’ status.

Here are a few things you need to avoid in order to not get penalized by Bing:

  • Low-quality / User Generated / Spun / Scraped / Duplicate content.
  • Showing a different version of your site’s pages to search engines than the version shown to normal visitors – or similar cloaking methods.
  • Spammed / Hacked / Artificial / Low-quality / Paid links.
  • Social Media Schemes – including but not limited to buying facebook likes, tweets, followers, or exchanging them.
  • Meta Refresh Redirect.

Related Material

Want some more actionable tips based on the points I discussed in this post? Check these fantastic resources out:

TL;DR

Was the post too long for you? Here are a few important takeaways:

  • Make your site accessible and easy to crawl by Bing.
  • Submit your site to Bing Webmaster Tools. Submit a sitemap.
  • Keep your site structure simple and clean. Focus on a text-link based site navigation. Equip internal links with relevant anchor-texts.
  • Produce great content that others enjoy reading, sharing on social media sites, and linking to.
  • Make sure the pages of your site are able to satisfy searchers’ intent and provide a great overall user experience.
  • Implement structured data on your site. (Microdata, Schema.org, Open Graph etc.)
  • Gain links only organically. Give quality of backlinks more importance than quantity of backlinks.
  • Make sure you’re leveraging co-citations / co-occurences.
  • Monitor various aspects of your site’s search engine performance through Bing WMT. Frequently monitor the backlink profile. If you find a significant number of spammy backlinks, either attempt to remove them manually by outreach, or disavow those links using the ‘Disavow Links’ feature in Bing WMT.
  • Monitor, analyze, execute… repeat.

Finally, I hope this is useful to you. This is probably the first detailed guide on the internet on Bing SEO. Again, due to the size of this guide, I might have forgot including a point or two. You can provide your feedback by leaving a comment below. I need it!

So, what other things do you think are important for optimizing a site for Bing?

  • BlackHatMario

    no one cares about bing… I started a site 2 weeks ago and concentrated on seo for google. The stats show that I get also visitors from bing, and I checked and I am on the first page or even nr 1 for some keywords on bing

    • http://techtage.com/ Rohit Palit

      I wonder how the rankings will shape up in the near future. Bing’s SERP results are hugely driven by user interaction. It’s easier to get into the first page with Black Hat SEO, but much harder to maintain the rankings.

    • Charles Floate

      I have an eCommerce site – 20% Bing, 50% Google and 10% Yahoo, in terms of the quality of traffic, Bing is by far the best possible traffic source right now, get a ton of easy sales/leads through it.

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  • Steve Singer

    Any idea why http://www.northwestregisteredagent.com doesn’t rank in Bing? Site does really well in Google, non-existent in Bing. Might be interesting in hiring you if you.

    • http://techtage.com/ Rohit Palit

      I see that it’s indexed, so might not be a huge site-wide penalty. You could improve crawl by setting up your Bing Webmaster Tools properly. Shoot me an email: 008Rohit@techtage.com

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  • Spook SEO

    Hello Rohit!

    Another great post from you. I actually like Bing because Bing gives significantly more importance to keywords in title, URL and meta description than Google and Yahoo. Just like these search engines (Google and Yahoo), Bing also prefers unique and high-quality contents.

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  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ Ehtesham Shaikh

    I find almost all the guidelines and restrictions are same as Google. Therefore the similar steps to be followed on Bing as well right?
    One thing I would like to know is that, does Bing Webmaster provide accurate data or the estimated data as GWT provides. It’s because I find both the data are quite different from other?

    • http://techtage.com/ Rohit Palit

      I guess it provides really close estimates. They are different because they’re collected from different sources and are meant for two completely different search engines. :)

      Well, there ARE some differences, albeit minor, and I’ve mentioned them within the post. So, it’s not entirely identical to Google SEO.

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  • Rupan Saah

    For SEO & Other Online Solutions visit: http://www.suzlaninfotech.com

  • abhilashthakur

    Hi Rohit…

    My Blog http://prakashvani.com/bing-seo-guide/ not index in Bing Why?

  • akcworld

    Dear Rohit,

    Can you analyse my two blogs http://www.doilookstupid.in & http://www.fusionbox.in for SEO purpose?