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Optimizing for Bing Part II: Balancing Google and Bing SEO

The best place to start with SEO for Bing is by ignoring most of what you see about Bing SEO, and optimizing for Google instead. Then, once you’ve optimized for Google, there’s a list of additional things you can do to make sure that your page is Bing-optimized as well. (Note that this doesn’t include a few things that are bonuses to Bing, but penalties to Google.) Ready? Here we go:

Engage Your Users
Bing penalizes sites that get clicked-to and then returned-from (especially via the Back button) far more harshly than Google, so do whatever you can to keep visitors from going the Search Engine Two-Step. Add video, create a more captivating hero image, do some A/B testing to see what makes visitors stick around — whatever it takes.

Sign Up for (and Use!) Klout
I know, who even thinks about Klout anymore, right? But as it turns out, Bing search results use Klout integration as their version of Google’s Authorship — by unambiguously identifying yourself as the author of a page and having a Klout account, you can maximize your exposure as an influencer and improve your SERP ranking for Bing at the same time.

Use Keywords in Your URLs, but NOT Exact-Match URLs
Bing loves exact-match URLs (i.e. having “AgarioIsTheWorstGameEver” as both your URL and your keyword of choice), but then, Bing really just loves keywords in URLs in general. A URL that merely contains a keyword is almost as good as one that is a keyword. Meanwhile, Google hates exact-match URLs, but doesn’t care that much about URLs that contain keywords but also contain further text. So to hit the sweet spot, your URL should contain a valuable keyword, but not be a valuable keyword in and of itself.

Have an Old, Large Website
OK, so this isn’t really something you can manipulate per se, but it’s worthy of note that Bing puts more weight on website age and website size (i.e. number of pages on a site) as indicators of authority. That 2006 Google SEO trick of finding an existing website that is defunct, buying it, and changing it to be yours still totally works — just not very well anymore for Google, and surprisingly well for Bing. (Bonus points if the existing URL has a keyword in it — good luck!)

Keyword Density Still Matters
In many respects, you can think of Bing as “Google five years ago” — for example, it’s still wise strategy to focus on one keyword per page when doing SEO for Bing, and to spoon-feed the exact keyword about once every 300 words to peak Bing’s response without tripping the Google filters. If you’re going to do a bunch of similar pages to nail a bunch of similar keywords, beware: both Bing and Google have pretty harsh duplicate content filters, and Google’s Penguin algorithm will also just straight tank your SERPs if it thinks you’re keyword sniping.

Use a Sitemap
Bing specifically doesn’t like to rank pages that are more than 3 clicks deep into any given site. Rather than redesign your entire site toward that concern, however, just use a Sitemap page and link to it and from it on every single page on the site. That way every page is just 2 clicks deep as far as the Bingbot is concerned, and you can move on with life.

Google-oriented SEOers are accustomed to essentially discounting most tags these days — don’t! Bing still uses the Title and Description Meta tags to pilfer for keywords. Also, Bing in particular pays attention to <h1> tags when attempting to discern the topic of a site (which is pretty critical for ranking.) Try to only use a single <h1> tag at the beginning, and then <h2> and <h3> tags to subdivide sections further down.

Carefully Manage Your Anchor Text
Google’s Penguin algorithm will trip if too many of your inbound links’ anchor text is an exact-match keywords, but Bing’s algorithm isn’t nearly as good at Google’s at synonyms and discerning context — so to optimize for both, try to get about 20% of your anchor text as exact matches, and try to make it the most authoritative sites that use exact-match. Then spread the variety across a number of less-authoritative sites. It’s difficult, but far from impossible, and it’s actually pretty important if you want to rank well on both.

If you can manage to do all of that SEO for Bing without messing up your Google SEO, you’ve done everything you can to optimize your site for all three of the biggest search engines — engines that, together, comprise upwards of 95% of the total search market. It’s hard to beat numbers like that!

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