When it comes to search engines, few would question the dominance of Google. In the Western market, relative newcomer Bing has slowly but surely increased its market share over the last few years and today you underestimate it at your peril. Here we’ll examine the differences between them and why it’s important to incorporate both into your SEO strategy.
Audience share: Bing vs Google
Globally, Google enjoys a 92.04% market share while Bing holds 2.66% and Yahoo 1.48%. In the UK Google dominates the UK search engine space with 87.7% while Bing holds a small but significant 8.39%, according to Statista. Although comparatively Bing is still dwarfed by its rival, it has made considerable traction in the UK over recent years and its developments in paid search have quite literally paid dividends.
What is the difference between them?
At first glance you might think that there’s not much difference between Bing and Google – they are both search engines that offer paid advertising and adhere to the same standards – but under the bonnet, they offer some unique approaches. Let’s take a closer look.
Differences in ranking factors
Google and Bing both apply different weighting to certain ranking factors that result in significantly different organic search results. While you don’t need to fundamentally overhaul your website to improve your Bing rankings, there are a few improvements you can make to ensure it is successfully optimised for both search engines
Both Bing and Google rank mobile-friendliness and site speed highly, so optimising your behind-the-scenes infrastructure as well as your technical on-page SEO is crucial. However, there are a few discrepancies between them to bear in mind, such as redirects:
When implementing permanent SEO redirects, it’s advisable to use 301 redirects rather than temporary 302 redirects. This is because 302 redirects can sometimes cause issues with Google. Bing will automatically redirect a 301 to a 302 after a site has been crawled a few times, but Google won’t – so it’s best to avoid 301 redirects altogether if you can.
Meta-descriptions play a huge part in how Bing interprets a website. Bing relies more heavily on conventional methods to understand the content, like page titles, keywords and metadata; Google, conversely, has scant interest in meta-descriptions thanks to its impressive interpretation of language (since the BERT and Rankbrain updates) and only uses meta-descriptions as micro-adverts for pages in its SERPs.
While Bing and Google use entirely different algorithms, their goal is one and the same: to source the best content for their users. This means that significant overlap will necessarily occur while optimising for both Google and Bing. This isn’t a bad thing – neither search engine is likely to penalise sites that are optimised for the other – rather it means that brands must focus their efforts on producing high-quality, meaningful content, written for humans, catering for the needs and wants of their target audience. With Google’s sophisticated understanding of language, it’s really important not to overdo the optimisation (no one wants to wade through clunky, keyword-stuffed content anyway). That said, it’s perfectly possible to use keywords judiciously in your titles, URLs and metadata without overcooking it, ensuring that you’re well optimised for Bing.
Bing has a preference for official, respectable domains such as .edu and .gov, whereas Google often accords popular or commercial websites with just as much value. Bing also prefers well-established content that’s enjoyed lots of traffic, whereas Google isn’t always so fussy. While it’s not possible to optimise your website for both search engines according to these preferences, it is important to compare their results because your site might be preferred by either Google or Bing depending on your domain type. You can then focus on optimising for the right one.
Google uses the mobile version of a website for ranking and indexing purposes, making it vital that all mobile content and metadata is fully optimised to match the desktop version. (It’s best practice to avoid having separate mobile and desktop sites altogether in favour of responsive design implementation.) Bing currently has no plans for a mobile-first indexing policy, maintaining a single index that’s optimised for both mobile and web. In this way, it strives to ensure its users get the best results regardless of their location.
To ensure the best results for your site, let Google’s mobile-first indexing steer your UX and SEO – doing so won’t affect your ranking on Bing but it will make all the difference to your position on Google’s SERPs.
SERP features are elements on a search engine’s results page that go beyond the traditional ten blue links. Typical examples include featured snippets, carousel images, knowledge panels and image packs.
Bing and Google differ in terms of SERP features, paid advertising, local maps and voice search. Google offers a broader selection of images and an Advanced Search function for useful filtering, whereas Bing offers better-quality images with more detailed information than Google. Bing is more visually immersive than Google when it comes to search features. An informational search for Trees on Bing brings up an attractive infographic style search result. It is visually pleasing with easy digest the information presented attractively within the imagery, all taken from and linking to a specific source website.
Google doesn’t currently offer such a feature but the same informational search for trees brings up a map of local tree services, which Bing doesn’t do:
How important is local SEO on both search engines?
Local search has increased dramatically over the last few years: 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, and ‘near me’ or ‘close by’ type searches have grown by more than 900% over two years, according to Hubspot. In response to local searches, both Bing maps and Google maps display a map of the local area, with pins displaying the locations of local services or businesses. The main difference is that Bing provides a larger view of the wider area, whereas Google focuses in on the immediate vicinity of the searched-for service or business.
Google search results for ‘Parks near me’:
Bing search results for ‘Parks near me’:
Another difference between Bing Maps vs Google maps is that Google gives slightly longer estimated journey times than Bing. The accompanying route information also differs, with Google Maps providing the fastest route between destinations. Bing doesn’t offer this feature.
Bing Ads vs Google Ads
Both search engines offer pay-per-click (PPC) ad services and in general Microsoft Advertising (Bing Ads) is more affordable than Google Ads, although the smaller price-tag is reflected in Bing’s much smaller market share.
Advertising on Bing vs Google
Some recent studies have indicated that Bing’s paid search can in some cases offer an improved click-through rate in comparison to Google, so Bing could add depth and value to your SEO strategy if you are targeting high-value PPC keywords.
In terms of demographics, both engines differ notably: with Bing, users tend to be in their 30s or 40s or above with a higher average household income and higher levels of education; Google users are younger on average with lower incomes. It is worth identifying which demographic more closely matches your target audience and tailoring your paid campaigns accordingly.
In keeping with its more visually immersive focus, in 2021 Bing announced a new, responsive ad format called Multimedia Ads, which uses machine learning to combine visuals, descriptions and headlines. Only one multimedia ad is to be displayed per page, giving it a competitive advantage in the SERP. Google does not currently offer a comparable ad format.
That being said, Google is still the dominant player in PPC. Google makes it easy for you to monitor your paid ad campaigns (AdWords) alongside other areas of your website performance and of course, you benefit from Google’s much larger audience. We would recommend capitalising on the unique benefits of both Google and Bing by combining both advertising platforms for the most effective, comprehensive digital strategy. Often, successful businesses choose to focus on Google Ads because of its giant audience, while simultaneously running campaigns across Bing and its partners (including LinkedIn, Yahoo and AOL services) to maximise reach.
How does SEO strategy differ on Google and Bing?
Google is still synonymous with an online search for most people. (‘To “Google” ’ has long been a verb, and with good reason). However, Bing is the second largest search engine in the UK and continues to gain traction – it is vital to consider Bing on its own terms and to examine how it can add value to your business. Google offers additional search features and a mobile-first approach to indexing, while Bing has radically improved its offering to achieve some great results in paid search; it is successfully positioning itself away from its competitors by pioneering a more visually immersive search experience.
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To sum up
We believe that it’s important to explore the opportunities that Bing represents to potentially increase site visibility and reach new users from different demographics. Google might still be the dominant force in search, but with an integrated SEO strategy that includes Bing, you can leverage the individual strengths of both platforms to increase your reach and grow your business.
If you need help defining your SEO strategy, why not get in touch with Fueld today. We will be happy to help you optimise your website