Stop laughing. I mean it.
Bing has long been the unfortunate sibling of Google. Well-financed, well-meaning, even well-designed, but ever the second fiddle, Bing seems destined for life in the shadows of the internet.
But that’s not entirely the case. Bing has been making some quiet strides forward, and while many webmasters are firmly determined to ignore it, Bing marches on. While it may never truly challenge the supremacy of Google, Microsoft’s search engine is widely believed to have captured around 15% of search traffic, definitely large enough to merit your attention.
Bing Is Munching Yahoo
Check the numbers, and you will find that Bing has been making inroads into market share for the past few years. In fact, it managed to outstrip its colleague Yahoo in mid 2011, becoming the second most used search engine.
Unfortunately, this was done almost entirely at Yahoo’s expense. Bing’s rise did absolutely nothing to unseat Google. The takeaway? Bing’s strides should have interested in Bing, but shouldn’t affect your prioritization of Google, which still has an utterly commanding market lead, and one that shows no signs of flagging.
Bing Has A Different Audience
Here’s a subtle, evolving distinction, but also an extremely important one. Working with Bing will almost certainly serve your results up to a different audience. A Search Engine Land investigation of the search engines found that Bing users had a few distinct hallmarks.
First, they tended to be male. Women were considerably more likely to be sole Google users, men more likely to try engine hopping. Second, your Bing audience is more likely served via a laptop or desktop, instead of a mobile device, thanks to Bing’s slow adoption of mobile-friendly service.
Finally, Bing users were much more likely to be older. Put all that together, and your stereotypical Bing user is an older male, and probably not a very mobile-savvy one. If that happens to fit your target audience – and it may very well, as that’s classically a wealthier demographic – then Bing may offer you the opportunity to directly target them with your SEO efforts.
Bing Is A Tiny Bit Dumber Than Google
An awful lot of the true disruption of the SEO industry has come in the form of Google’s rapidly evolving semantic algorithms. The search engine has gotten almost spookily good at extracting the meaning of content without relying on specific key words. Great for writers, awful for old-school SEOs.
Bing is…well, there’s no nice way to put this. Bing isn’t quite as good at this. Now, this is rapidly changing, but it’s probably safe to assume that they’re generally going to be a step behind Google. As of now, Bing still holds a great deal of reliance on exact keyword match, something that Google is starting to move beyond.
While this means that their SERPs are consequently (and in my opinion) of slightly lower value to most searchers, it’s a potential godsend for marketers. If there’s a specific keyword that you’re dying to target, then consider relapsing to some of last year’s white-hat keyword practices. You may find that Bing lets you climb results a little quicker than Google.
One more takeaway: Bing isn’t going anywhere. This is actually a pretty important realization. Building an SEO strategy takes time and effort, and it can be frustrating to have that all scuppered when an engine bites the dust or makes dramatic changes.
Bing isn’t about to die, and though it does change rapidly, it’s possible for an adaptable webmaster to keep pace. Develop a Bing plan now, and you’ll be able to zero in on a valuable minority search market for a long time to come.
Charles Dearing is an old hand at marketing, blogging, and writing. He writes for patientsites.com, a digital marketing resource, and you’ll also see his work on a number of other sites and publications.