If you do search engine optimization, you might ask yourself where you should spend your efforts to capture as many users as possible. When I perform SEO for my clients, I know that I have a natural inclination to lean into Google for maximum exposure.
Bing Browser Search Volume
It’s no wonder because Google has been the top search engine since it gained prominence. According to Statista, Google Site still commands 63.4% of the search market in 2017, with Microsoft behind over 40% -- capturing only 22.8% of search traffic. It makes sense to optimize for Google, but with nearly a quarter of users going through Microsoft, you need to optimize for Bing too. However, this is a bit misleading.
If you look further into the Statista data, you’ll see that Yahoo Sites pull in 11.7% of searches and AOL taking under 1 percent; Ask Network is there as well with just over 1 percent. Looking at this data, you could assume that Google is the most important search engine and optimizing for the others should come later. However, this is not the case.
As many will remember, Bing made a deal with Yahoo back in 2009 to use the Bing search engine for 10 years. Yahoo got to keep 88% of revenue earned from search advertisements for the first five years. We are still only 8 years into the deal as of today. This means that the 11.7% of searches from Yahoo sites belong to Bing as well. This nudges Bing to a total market share of 34.5% as of April of this year.
Some may write AOL off as a legacy system, but they garner 0.04% of the world’s search volume. Last year Bing announced a long term deal with AOL to power AOL’s browser, phone, and tablet searches with a similar revenue structure to the Yahoo deal. This gives Bing over 35% of the desktop search volume in the United States.
These figures make an extremely compelling case for Bing Webmaster tools. If 1 in every 3 people is using Bing’s search algorithm to find your site then you’re missing out on a whole lot of users every month. One of my clients, I recently discovered, is pulling in 15% of their monthly users from Bing. An additional 8% is coming from Yahoo and another 3% from AOL. These figures account for over 21,000 visitors every month.
If I’m not optimizing for Bing’s search algorithm then I could be missing 27% of my users!
Best Practices for Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing webmaster tools offers some unique features that cannot be found in Google search console, but they are still lacking for my tastes. The best way I’ve found to stay on top of Bing keyword rankings is to submit sitemaps regularly. This is nothing unique to Bing, but it does come with some bells and whistles that Google cannot offer. Bing allows you, the webmaster, to set your crawl volume.
By default, your crawl volume is set to 50% but you’re free to crank it all the way up to 100% if you need it. Bing includes data from Yahoo, but not AOL and Siri. However, you can infer a lot about the way you’re being found through your analytics.
Bing Webmaster tools also includes some very cool Beta features at the moment. You’re able to get SEO reports from the search engine with priority statuses of the items which are holding your site back. You’re also given access to some of Bing’s other Beta features like keyword research, markup validator, SEO analyzer for specific URLs, and the Knowledge Widget. The Knowledge Widget allows you to put a script directly into your site which “provides your users relevant information about the entities detected within the content of your page.”
My understanding of the Knowledge Widget, is that is like Smart Links based on your sitemap, making your rich information for available. Their selling point is that the script is lightweight and increases time on your site.
Bing Search Volume for Mobile
It’s no secret that Bing is the official search engine for Apple’s popular vocal assistant, Siri. Data from Fivesight Research shows that 13% of iOS users go to Siri for searches from their phone. Of course, Google has a commanding lead with 78% of iOS users and 90% of Android users. However, it is worth mentioning how many people are using Bing for their mobile searches.
I will be combining iOS and Android search percentages to show Bing’s impact:
· Siri 14%
· Yahoo 5%
· Bing 3%
This doesn’t look like the smoking gun that I was leading it up to be, but we also know that 2% of Apple users rely on their phone’s browser for search. Safari is also part of Bing’s collective and 78% of iOS users have Safari set as their mobile browser.
We see 10% of vocal searches coming from Cortana and 74% iPhone owners using Siri. Simply stated: Bing’s reach cannot be understated. Microsoft seeded their search engine all across the sector through smart business. One can’t help but be reminded by the tactics Wal-Mart and Amazon used to force their way into the market by offering the lowest prices available. When they finally garnered the market share, their prices began to rise.
Microsoft gave up most of the revenue from Yahoo, AOL, and Apple so that they could make their search engine part of the zeitgeist. Google offers a much better conversion rate for paid search, so it will up to Bing to bridge the gap. Bing’s mobile rise has been slowed by Google for the time being, but it will be interesting to see how the market develops in light of the rise in vocal searches.
Bing and Mobile Vocal Search
Microsoft has stated that Cortana, their vocal assistant, is capturing 133 million searches every month. However, this figure includes both mobile and desktop. Considering Microsoft’s meager market share in mobile phones, it’s safe to assume most of those searches are coming from user’s desktops. While the Google Vocal Assistant is growing quickly, most people are still relying on Siri and Cortana for their searches every month and are Google’s top competitors. If you have better information about this topic, I would love to have a discussion about it in the comments below.
Bing is easier for SEOs because of the immense amount of features loaded into their Webmaster tools. By allowing the webmaster to set the crawler budget, they’re effectively creating fastlanes for SEOs. Typically Bing keyword rankings fall in line with Google, but sometimes they can be inflated because Bing doesn’t seem to have the same hangups about blackhat SEO (to be experimented with in another article).
Google isn’t going anywhere, but Microsoft is really trying to make sure Bing catches up. With Bing advocating for user experience with their hipster-equse landscape shots of Peruvian bean farms and cutesy pictures attached to search terms, it’s hard to argue that they aren’t trying. If Bing starts to gain a following with mobile users for vocal search, through any number of their properties, then it would be very interesting to watch what Google does to keep their hold of the market share.
Posted in: seo