Google is so dominant as a search engine that it has become synonymous with “search.” “Google it,” people say, making Google a verb. Google owns nearly two-thirds of search market share on PCs (64.1 percent), and it’s north of 80 percent on mobile devices. Yahoo (powered mostly by Microsoft’s Bing) has 12.7 percent of search market share, and Bing has 20.4 percent.
Search technology is a closely held secret within the halls of Google and Microsoft. They don’t inform the public, or those of us who are Web developers, when they make updates and changes. As it turns out, Google and Microsoft take quite different approaches to things, which requires SEO specialists to do a delicate dance between the two. Google is most important, of course, so you want to optimize well for it. But if that’s all you concentrate on, you can hurt your rankings for a full third of your target audience.
Top 6 Dance Moves
- Literal vs. Contextual Bing is known for being “literal.” Much like Google five years ago, Bing pays attention to words used in the content of a page, plus title tags, anchor text and header tags. Since the significant update known as “Hummingbird,” Google actually has the capability to follow natural language patterns, i.e. the context of a set of words in a sentence and over the entirety of a paragraph and page. Google even understands and correlates synonyms to the actual intent of the author – pretty amazing in and of itself. Make sure the basic SEO 101s are in place. Title tags and headers need to be keyword rich, and keywords need to be present throughout the page. But be careful…too much “stuffing” of keywords can hurt you with Google. Dance!
- Backlinks Backlinks are other websites linking to yours. These are a key priority for Google, as it views backlinks as others considering your website important enough to link to. But these must be quality links, related to your line of business in some way. Simply having hundreds or thousands of non-related links to your page, which you can do with the help of firms in India and other parts of the world, is a surefire way to get your website zero rankings or blacklisted. Therefore, get your paint partner, jobber, local dealerships, auto repair training programs, auto glass company, rental car partner, towing partner, etc., to link to your website. These would be considered “high authority” backlinks, boosting your rankings over your competitors who may be optimized well in other areas but don’t have the quality backlinks. On the other hand, for backlinks to be helpful with Bing, the anchor text behind the scenes must match the keyword focus on your website itself. But too many of these backlinks with the exact same anchor text can penalize you with Google, thanks to their Penguin updates of the last few years. The dance continues!
- Google Digs Deep, Bing Doesn’t Search robots “crawl” a website, meaning they look at the verbiage within it, what the page makes visible to humans and what’s behind the scenes. The difference between Google and Bing? Google reads every word on a page. Bing reads and “indexes” only about the first 100 kilobytes of content at the very beginning at the top portion of a page. That’s why it’s so important to have your most important keywords plus your address at the top part of the page.
- Fresh Content vs. Old Is Gold Google loves fresh, new content, showing that a website, and the business that owns it, is alive and well. Bing feels older content establishes a certain amount of authority and longevity. As long as new content is also hitting the literal requirements of keyword use by Bing, you should still be OK, especially with strong backlinks using correct anchor text.
- Bing Loves Multimedia Google’s search technology is primarily text driven. As such, images and video must have Alt tags attached to be fully effective. Bing’s technology tries to recognize what an image or video means to the website, so use them freely. People relate better to images and video, too.
- Don’t Be Anti-Social Google corporate downplays social media’s role in ranking potential, but research tends to lead one to believe otherwise. For Bing, your effective participation in social media, properly linked to your website, is in the top five ranking factors. When posting, include your website URL in your content from time to time, especially with paid promoted/boosted posts on Facebook. This should serve you well for both platforms, but more for Bing.
Do The Dance
In 2009, Microsoft had hoped to take a much bigger bite out of Google’s search market share when it introduced Bing, not to mention capturing some of the search advertising revenue. While Microsoft has mustered up a third of market share, it hasn’t been done at Google’s expense – for the most part. Other smaller search engines have either gone away or been relegated to virtual irrelevance. So, do the SEO dance to maximize your potential for search rankings. Dance with Google first, but allow Bing to cut in now and then.