I’ve spent the last week analyzing, what I believe to be, five real-world queries users and professionals alike might be likely to search on both Google and Bing. There’s been a right bit of controversy over this particular topic since SMX Advanced.
This post isn’t going to put an end to that argument, but what it will do is allow us to dissect 10 SERPs, five from Bing and five from Google for the exact same query, and allow us to see why they chose what they chose. We have to set two assertions: one,
- Google is to have/has the most reliable and trustworthy results.
- And, two, deviations of those results may be considered “less desirable” or “less trustworthy” results.
The question I aim to answer here is, is there any reason to specifically optimize for Bing, and does it appear that there are specific optimization techniques to focus on for Bing?
- All searches were conducted with “personalization” off. This includes “&pws=0” on to the end of queries
both within Bing and Google
- Tools used are available to general public: SEOQuake, Yahoo Site Explorer, Web Developer Tool for both
- Firefox and Google Chrome, Majestic SEO, Google Keyword Tool
The Queries and the Competitive Stats
- “brushed nickel shower heads”
- “centrifugal castings”
- “large tractor riding lawn mower”
- “seo competitive analysis"
- “used pink netbook”
The keyword phrases run the gamete from B2C to B2B with varying level of competitiveness, some being moderately competitive to not competitive at all. Rather than choosing extremely competitive keywords, where black hat techniques can be and are applied regularly, it would be better to examine more every day, run-of-the-mill queries.
The SERP Comparison Overview
When you look at the comparison of the SERPs, Bing matches Google’s results 30% of the time, on average. In some instances, Bing matched half the domains that Google had; in others, only 1 or 2 matches. (A match, in this instance, is considered to be the exact same result Google had)
Again, the sample size is very small, but overall gives a good overview of what you can expect resultwise from Bing when compared to Google. When RTS (real-time-search) and hyper-local are included in the equation, it would seem that Bing *may have* a leg to stand on, though no testing of these queries was done. When taken out of the equation, Bing still has a long way to go to matching Google’s algorithm for identifying trustworthy, relevant results.
Onsite Review of Domains:
I chose to examine the onsite content of domains that were both in Google and Bing SERPs for the given query (selected by closeness in the SERPs, no more than 3 positions apart). I looked at several factors:
- Keywords in URL
- Keyword phrase, plurals/singulars in content and ALT-tags
- Keywords in tags
(To get all the data (spreadsheet) and screen shots, download the ZIP file here)
It does not appear, from the SERP Samples and individual site that complete keyword phrase played a large influence on the position of the site. The complete keyword phrase was NOT found in any of the above sites, though parts of the keyword phrase were in the URL. My consensus is that it would be a good idea to include the keywords within the URL, but I would not say this is an absolute must. There are plenty of sites within the SERPs for both that did not contain any keywords in the URL.
Onsite content keyword usage appears to be vital to both; however, it does not appear that the keyword phrase has to be strung together consecutively in order to achieve top position on either engine. Using variations of the keyword, in the “brushed nickel shower heads” case, the site uses both the singular and plural form, as well as the Google misspelling “showerhead(s)” through the entirety of the body content. The majority of the sites above did use keywords in the heading tags; though it is not feasible to say if
this sways position one way or another. It is a best practice and I, personally, would continue to use it. It does not appear there is a penalty or advantage to this practice for either engine.
Additionally, not all the sites used keywords in the ALT-tags on the page. Again, as a best practice, I would include keywords where possible within the ALT-tag, but only if it lends a hand to describing the image and not for keyword stuffing purposes. And, again, there does not seem to be a penalty or reward for keyword usage within the ALT-tag for either engine.
As usual, incorporating the full keyword phrase in the Page Title is a solid indicator of relevance. It appears that this is highly valued in both Google and Bing. Keep employing this.
Overall Onsite Conclusion of Bing vs. Google:
To answer the questions we started with: “is there any reason to specifically optimize for Bing and does it appear that there are specific optimization techniques to focus on for Bing”, my analysis indicates that one, there is no reason at all to specifically optimize for Bing. Nor do I believe that, based on my analysis above that Bing is looking at different signals than Google. That is to say, I don’t believe that Bing is looking to meta-keywords as signal for determining relevance, or singling out the tag for keywords related to a given query.
That being said, I have not looked at Bing’s real-time results SERPs, and as they are a decision engine, they may be looking at factors that Google is not. And, yet, even as I said that, the little voice in my head said, “that’s ridiculous”. Google has set the standard for the relevance and trust algorithm, and as far as onsite content is concerned. If indeed, Bing is not using block-level analysis and weighting the navigation links the same as body content links, well, it certainly lowers my opinion of the engine as a whole.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you choose to view it, it seems as though offsite (external linking sources and anchor text) still plays the largest role in determining a site’s position, relevance, and trust within the SERPs.
To get all the data (spreadsheet) and screen shots, download the ZIP file here
About the Author; Anthony Verre is the founder and CEO of Silver Arc Search Marketing. Known at-large as "The Milwaukee SEO" . He has worked in search engine optimization and search marketing for over 5 years. He also writes a blog on search marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing news and opinion called The Milwaukee SEO. (follow him on Twitter)