Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, has done quite well out of the gate, gaining 3% market share in June 2009. And from this Mashable post we learn that analytics and research firm StatCounter reports the July results are showing the same trend: Bing is gaining traction, having gained 1.24% market share, up to 9.41%. In June, Bing’s increased market share came at the expense of Yahoo!, but in July it seems that 1% of the increase came at the expense of Google. According to StatCounter, Yahoo and Bing combined now control more than 20% of the search market, up from 19.27%, although comScore indicates that their combined market share in June was 29%, indicating disagreement over the actual numbers.
With this increased and growing market share, the fact that Yahoo! search will be taken over by Bing, and because Bing’s search algorithms differ from Google’s, SEOs will have to factor Microsoft/Bing into their approach to optimizing Web pages. The question is, How?
Early reporting on this indicates the following differences:
- Unlike Google, Bing doesn’t place as much weight on links — specifically backlinks;
- Bing gives higher weighting to the domain name, so that websites with keywords in the domain name will fare better in Bing;
- Bing ascribes more importance to keyword density in the title tag, and in content. Whereas Google seems to prefer a 2%-4% density, Bing will tolerate 6%-8% density as long as it doesn’t detect keyword spamming.
Like Google, Bing does strongly factor in a domain’s age, as well as keywords in the anchor text of links.
A very helpful resource in sussing out Bing’s approach to indexing websites, as regards links, is Rick DeJarnette’s article Links: the good, the bad, and the ugly (Part 1) on the webmaster blog of the Bing website. Here’s what he says about backlink “relevance”:
Instead of making the mistake of focusing on quantity, you’ll be far more successful if you focus instead on quality. A small number of highly relevant, inbound links from sites with solid reputations can do more for you than a ton of junk links. Attempting to boost the quantity of inbound links by artificial means, such as link exchanges, is old-school thinking. That’s bad.
In Part 2 of this post, the DeJarnette lays out Bing’s preferences for optimizing your internal links:
- Canonicalize your home page URL: specifying the single URL form you want to be used for your website’s home page when there are several choices (eg mysite.com, www.mysite.com, www.mysite.com/index.html etc.). Google’s Matt Cutts has also written about URL canonicalization.
- Always use absolute URLs for your internal links: Although this may seem counterintuitive and unnecessary, the Bing blog makes a good point: minimizing the effects of theft, when another site “scrapes” your site’s content and puts it on their site. “If you use absolute links for your inline links, your stolen content will most often take the reader of the plagiarized content back to the source—your site!” Makes sense.
- Use the title attribute in anchor tags for internal links: The title attribute can expand the keywords used in the anchor text, particularly when trying to get all your relevant keywords into the anchor text results in clumsy syntax/readability.
- Avoid pages with nothing but a long list of non-contextual links: It’s best to provide some context with links rather than just have a list of links with no context. Obviously, in the case of a site map page, this may be unavoidable, although they add “at least try to organize the sitemap list of links so they are easier for the user to consume.”
- Prevent the bot from following a link: Use the rel=”nofollow” parameter in your anchor tags to identify pages you don’t want followed, such as those to untrusted sources (in the case of blogs or forums).
It appears that although there is definitely a difference in emphasis between Google and Bing (as evidenced by the same searches in both search engines returning different but relevant results), SEO best practices are still in place, and Bing’s advice about linking is basically the same as Google’s linking preferences.
In the case of using absolute URLs for your internal links, it may be best to do this, as it won’t hurt you in Google and it apparently may help with Bing.
Resources & References for Bing v. Google & Optimizing for Bing
- SEOWizz.net: A Further Bing SEO Update
- Mashable: Yahoo-Microsoft Search Deal: The Key Facts
- KPMRS Blog: How Does Bing Yahoo Deal Affect your Website Rankings
- Bing Community Webmaster Blog: Making links work for you (SEM 101)
- Webconfs.com: Bing Optimization
- Bing Webmaster Central
- SearchEngineNews.com: SEO Update for Bing
- Matt Cutts on Canonicalization
- Google Webmaster Help: Link Schemes
- Google Webmaster Help: Search Engine Optimization