A lot of people do not pay attention to Bing SEO or ranking factors and purely focus on trying to rank in Google and nothing else. However over the last couple of years Bing's market share has been slowly increasing as Microsoft try to challenge Google in the search arena. If you were paying attention this week you will have noticed a fundamental shift in search that is going to affect us all. [h=2]The Big Bing Has Already Happened[/h] I'm officially dubbing the term 'The Big Bing' to mark the day that a simple browser update changed the world of search forever. Mozilla released version 34 of its Firefox browser on the 1st of December 2014. At the very top of the release notes is a critical piece of information that is going to change the search landscape forever. Firefox have removed Google as the default search engine and replaced it with Yahoo! If you didn't know - it just so happens that Bing powers Yahoo's search results. Interestingly they also removed Google as the default search engine for Russia as well which suggests they might remove Google as the default from other country's in the future. [h=3]What Does That Actually Mean?[/h] Let me get straight to the point - US search share for Yahoo jumped from 9.64% to 29.4% overnight for users of the new Firefox. Google usage dropped from 82.14% to 63.46%. In 24 hours. That is a critical change you should be giving your full attention. Let's not forget that this impact was felt just 24 hours after the update was released which means there are still millions and millions of people that haven't updated, yet. [h=2]Is Bing Traffic Valuable?[/h] I have heard lots of claim from people that Bing traffic isn't worth as much, it doesn't convert, people don't buy things and so on. So I decided to look at my own data to measure the quality of Bing traffic and this is what I saw- That data tells me everything I need to know. Traffic coming from Bing- Has a lower bounce rate Visits more pages Spends more time on site Subscribes to my list more Clicks more affiliate links Take a look at your own data before passing judgement though! [h=2]The Great Bing Advantage[/h] The best thing about change, is people hate change. Change pushes people out of their comfort zones and humans are wired to avoid that. So for those that are willing to evolve with change there is a great opportunity here. Since 1998 SEO's have purely focused on ranking sites in Google, for 16 solid years Google has had the sole attention of nearly every single SEO on the planet. This had made Google's search results highly competitive against people that have fine tuned their SEO skill sets for more than a decade. Bing however has been largely ignored, the general theory is that if you ranking well in Google you will rank well in Bing as well. But that is not the case - the algorithms are very different, just compare search results for the same term and you will quickly see what I mean. So it is important that you understand those key differences to take advantage of 'The Big Bing' (it will catch on). [h=2]Bing Marketing - Free Tools & Resources[/h] So with that said and before we get into the top Bing ranking factors you need to familiarise yourself with all of the free Bing marketing tools & resources. Unlike Google, Microsoft actually produce a number of very helpful tools & guidelines for Bing SEO. It is also worth noting that Bing are very SEO friendly as evident from the tools they offer. [h=3]Bing Webmaster Guidelines[/h] First of all you should have a read of the Bing Webmaster Guidelines and get yourself upto speed. It is no way near as long/complicated as Google's guidelines so it won't take you long to read and absorb. [h=3]Bing Webmaster Tools[/h] The Bing Webmaster Tools is superb - if you haven't got your site setup in there yet do it now. It provides an awesome suite of tools including a backlink explorer! You can also see exactly which keywords you rank for, how your site indexes, diagnose problems and much more. As of right now you will also get $100 of free advertising credit to play with - sweet! [h=3]Bing SEO Analyzer[/h] The Bing SEO Analyzer is also a great tool to discover if your pages are following Bing SEO best practices. Just enter your URL and it will return a list of suggestions to improve your rankings across Bing & Yahoo. [h=4]Microsoft SEO Tool Kit[/h] More of an unknown tool the free Microsoft SEO Tool Kit is a desktop application that spiders your website to find SEO problems. It is very easy to use and well - it is 100% free so what is not to like! [h=4]Bing Webmaster Blog[/h] Just like Google there is also a Bing Webmasters Blog which you should have a read through & subscribe to. Some of the posts are actually quite entertaining and often have golden nuggets buried within! [h=4]Bing Search Quality Blog[/h] Imagine if Matt Cutts and all of the Google search quality/anti spam team published a blog sharing what they've been trying & testing. Well Bing do exactly that with their Search Quality Blog that offers some amazing insights into the world of search. [h=4]Contacting The Bing Webmaster Team[/h] Last but not least, perhaps one of the best tools is the ability to contact the Bing webmaster team. So if your site does have problems or gets hit for any reason - you can easily get in touch with the team directly to work things out. [h=2]The Top Bing Ranking Factors[/h] So what makes Bing tick at it's core? What are the key differences between ranking in Google & Bing? Here we go- [h=3]User Engagement Is Very Important[/h] One of the strongest signals in Bing is user engagement, having strong user engagement will increase your rankings in Bing. They measure this through a term known as 'pogo sticking' which is when someone performs a search, clicks on a result and then clicks back to return to the search results. If lots of people visit your site from the search results and click the 'back' button then this is a clear indication of poor user engagement to Bing. However if lots of people visit your site from the search results and do not go back to them to continue searching - this is a very very strong signal. [h=3]Click Through Rates Matter[/h] Bing also measures click through rates from it's search result pages and uses that data combined with the user engagement data above to improve its results. For example all things being equal, if the #1 position gets a 20% click through rate but the #2 position gets 40% - this is a clear indication that the #2 result is more relevant. This means you have to write your titles and descriptions with humans in mind while being specific with your keyword. Think keyword based click bait. [h=3]Social Signals Do Matter[/h] There is a lot of debate on whether social signals impact Google search rankings. I can categorically tell you with 100% certainty that they do and I've been using them to rank consistently for the past 2 years. I revealed exactly how at the recent BHW/UnGagged conference. So rather than getting caught up in the change debate you should be making social signals a core part of your SEO strategy now. It affects you rankings in Google and it affects your rankings in Bing. However Bing actually return posts from Facebook & Twitter embedded directly into search results that stand out from normal web results. Bing has a much stronger reliance on social signals than Google - use that to your advantage and you will see benefits in both search engines. [h=3]Bing Authorship[/h] Google introduced Authorship allowing people to claim content they have written so Google can determine who are the true experts in any given industry. Granted they have removed the pretty little pictures from search results now, but Authorship is here to stay. Bing has it's own version of Authorship after they integrated Klout verified snapshots. The Bing search results will then show- Your LinkedIn summary Other social profiles Klout score Influential topics 2 most influential moments from Twitter in the past 7 days 2 most influential posts from Instagram in the past 90 days. You can also take advantage of the Bing connected pages feature. [h=3]Backlinks Are Less Important[/h] It is important to note is that backlinks are less important in Bing then they are in Google. If you compare the search results between Bing & Google you will notice that the top ranking sites in Bing have noticeably less backlinks. However Bing does favour 'editorial' type links from within body content rather than coming from a sidebar, footer or list of links and site relevancy does matter. [h=3]Inbound Anchor Text Is More Important[/h] Bing puts more emphasis on the anchor text usage than Google does. So if you want to rank for 'Blue Widgets' you need links that use the 'Blue Widgets' anchor text. Bing isn't as good as Google at keyword matching - so while Google does well with recogizing synonyms and context around a keyword, Bing need spoon feeding specifically. However the risk here is that over optimising your anchor text will trip the Google Penguin filter. So the trick here is to make sure that the links coming from high authority sites focus on exact anchors while the other use a mix of anchor terms. That will allow you rank in Bing while dodging Google Penguin. [h=3]Keyword Domains Matter[/h] Having your keyword in your domain name will help you to rank in Bing easier. It isn't critical but it does help. However Google does have a filter for exact match domain names so it is best to use a domain that includes your keyword but isn't an exact match. The only problem with that is... [h=3]Page Authority Is More Important[/h] The other thing that you will notice when comparing search results is where Bing doesn't place as much weight on backlinks, it does place weight on site authority. It is much harder to rank a new domain in Bing than it is in Google. Having an aged domain will give you an extra leg up across Bing's results. So if you have an older domain that includes your keyword you are golden. If you just have an older domain your in a strong position as well. Where you don't want to be is with a brand new domain. [h=3]PageRank Is Irrelevant[/h] PageRank is a measurement of authority created in the early days of Google although it is not as relevant as it once was and hasn't been updated for a long time now. However it is important to note that Google PageRank does not seem to have any correlation with Bing rankings - makes sense. [h=3]Content & Keyword Density Is Important[/h] Bing prefers sites that have lots of unique content. They place much higher value on longer more engaging content than shorter content. Just like they are behind Google in how they process language in anchor text, the same applies to your content as well. You need to feed Bing the specific keyword you want your page to rank for. It is much better to focus on 1 page per keyword with Bing, but again be careful you don't trip Google Panda by offering duplicate content. Also Bing trys to eliminate duplicate content at the point of indexing. Redudant content is recognized and eliminated from search result pages but may still be available in the index. [h=3]Site Structure & Code Is Important[/h] Bing offer a few interesting pieces of advice around your site structure and coding. First of all they advise that content should be organized close to the surface. In other words no content should be more than 3 clicks away from the homepage. You should also use a broad to specific structure flow. So you might go with SEO > Link Building > Blog Networks or Garden > Furniture > Chairs for example. [h=3]General Onsite Optimisation[/h] Onsite optimization is similar for Bing as it is to Google. You want to make sure your using meta title & description tags which include your exact match keyword. Bing places a lot of emphasis on title tags but keep the user engagement signals in mind. You should only have 1 H1 tag per page to establish the main topic then use the H2 and H3 tags to talk about sub topics. It is also worth noting that sometimes Bing will swap out your meta description with your H1 tag in the search results so be creating with your headings - don't just rely on exact match headings. [h=3]HTTPS Is Not A Ranking Factor[/h] Google recently announced that HTTPS is now used as a ranking signal - although a very minor one. Bing Lead Program Manager Vincent Wehren said that HTTPs is not a ranking factor and they would not bring it in because they don't want to mess around with rankings based on a factor that has no real relevance. [h=2]Bing Search Engine Penaltys[/h] We don't know a whole lot about Bing's penaltys but what we do know for sure is they are a much friendlier beast than Google. There are certainly no crazy black and white animal updates to deal with here! [h=3]The Bing Spam Filter[/h] The Bing Index Quality team have published a few articles about the types of things they look for that are worth reading- Filtering Low Quality Links in Bing SERP Web Spam Filtering MGC Spam Filtering They go as far as to show you actual case study examples along with a lot of details about each update they make. It is very important that you stay ontop of your outbound link profile and make sure that you are only linking to clean and related sites. Bing will punish you for this seriously. Reciprocal linking will also get you in trouble but if you have any experience with ranking sites in Google you will already know to avoid that practice. It is clear that Bing's spam detection methods are much further behind the times than Google's which gives us a longer leash to play on. [h=3]How To Check If You Have A Bing Penalty[/h] Bing also make it very easy to check if your site has a penalty or not. All you need to do is go to Bing Webmaster Tools and click on the Summary Tool. Next look at the Site Status section - if it says Blocked: Yes - your site is penalised. If this is the case with your site then take a look at this post to learn how to get out of the penalty box. [h=2]Are You Prepared For The Big Bing?[/h] The Big Bing has already happened and over the coming months it's control of the search market will grow rapidly thanks to the latest Firefox update. In 24 hours Google usage dropped from 82% to 63% while Bing/Yahoo usage jumped from 9% to 29% - those are numbers you cannot ignore. That impact is measured from simply changing the default search for the USA. I will not be surprised to see future Firefox updates replace Google for other countrys as well. So have you prepared for The Big Bing? The future of search is changing - whether you like it or not.