Wait, do I mean what can Bing learn from Google? After all, Google owns a healthy 67 percent +/-of the search market. The name is so ubiquitous that it has become a verb: we “google.”
The engine has become synonymous with the very idea of search – but is Bing the little engine that could? Microsoft asserts that users overwhelmingly prefer Bing, and while this is a controversial claim, millions have, in fact, started “Binging.” As the smaller search engine continues to carve out its niche, what lessons can it offer the mighty Google?
Lesson 1: Play nice, or play smart
Google and fellow mega-company Apple have maintained a rivalry in recent years. From smartphones to smart watches, they are locked in a perpetual, and at times, unfriendly, race.
Enter Microsoft, who, despite its own tempestuous past with Apple managed to form a strategic alliance with the iPhone maker. In 2013, Apple executive Eddy Cue announced that the default search function for iOS 7’s Siri would be powered by Bing.
For the 2013 fiscal year, Apple sold 150 million iPhones, bringing Bing into the lives of a much wider audience. As more of us turn to our mobile devices for answers, Bing’s ability to serve up instant answers will position it as a prominent player in the search world – and, as importantly, the mobile world.
Lesson 2: Be social
Bing actively integrates social media content with its search results. Some of their social search initiatives:
- Bing’s partnership with Twitter allows tweets to be displayed in the SERPs, as well as the dedicated, searchable social page at bing.com/social.
- Bing is reaching into the youth market, powering the results for Xbox.
- The search engine is experimenting with “Bing Boards.” Users can click “Boards” at the top of their query (where you can select Web, Image, News, or other categories). Their results resemble a pin board, a collection of images, video, blogs, and other content created “by people who are passionate about the topics they blog, write or talk about – not companies or algorithms.”
- Relevant Facebook comments are posted within a sidebar in search results, and users can leave their own comments without having to navigate away from the search engine.
- Bing also powers Facebook’s web search. When users cannot find the right answer with the social network’s Search Graph, Bing springs into action.
Was Bing the first choice for Facebook? Probably not. Mark Zuckerberg said, “I would love to work with Google, “but, “People want flexibility, and that was the stumbling block with Google in our last round of talks.” Perhaps that is another lesson for the world’s largest search engine: a little flexibility can go a long way.
Lesson 3: Keep visitors engaged
The more you can engage visitors and scratch the itch that brought them to the site in the first place, the better your conversion rate will be.
The Bing Knowledge widget is designed to help your visitors dig deeper without leaving the page. Using the power of Satori (which enables Bing Snapshot), the search engine analyses the page and identifies the “entities” therein. The users can then click on the automatically generated link to explore the entity in more detail.
A simple line of code, Bing Knowledge is a lightweight solution to keep people on-page longer and engaged more deeply in your content.
Lesson 4: Support SEO efforts
Google angered many in the SEO community when it moved all searches to https. While claiming that this action was intended to protect the privacy of users, experts didn’t buy it.
The effects on privacy and security may be negligible but the effects for SEOs and webmasters are more profound. Https prevents SEOs from accessing important keyword data and creating targeted, effective strategies.
To help webmasters rank better, Bing has also implemented a number of tools, including Link Explorer, Disavow Links, Bing Sitemap Plugin, and Markup Validator.
Of particular note is the availability of the Keyword Research Tool. Bing allows you to access data from organic searches based on up to six months of historical data. You can search by language, country, and region and save up to 25 search terms in order to have quick access to them for future research.
Lesson 5: Don’t forget the advertisers
Bing helps extend the power of your spend. The same keywords for PPC campaigns are much less expensive in Bing than in Google. For the keyword, “mens boardshorts,” for instance, Google charges $1.35; Bing just $0.48.
For now there are fewer pairs of eyes on your ads, but the lower cost-per-click can translate into a lower cost per lead and/or conversion on Microsoft’s engine.
Another tool in the advertiser’s arsenal is the Bing Ads Solution Center. Missing Google keyword research? Assuage your sorrows with better ad placement, live and static webinars, press releases, blog platforms, newsfeeds, white paper publication, and more.
The Ads Solution Center helps advertisers and marketers put their clients’ content in front of the right consumers. Bing also offers a complete repository of information on important topics, such as PPC, optimisation strategies, best (and worst) copy practices, and much more.
Perhaps Bing’s most important message for Google is, “We’re coming. We’re making our name, and we’re gaining ground.” Their market share continues to creep up, albeit slowly.
What differentiates Bing, though, is that it is not trying to be Google. It doesn’t want to be the “next” Google, or the “new and improved” Google. It wants to be Bing – the best search engine option for users.