Bing It: Does Bing Even Matter, Or Is It Just a Waste of Time?

Let’s be honest. When we’re talking about search engine optimization, we’re talking about Google. We can ask ourselves questions like “Who’s Really Winning The Search War?” but they’re hypothetical at best and, yes, even a little patronizing. Google is clearly the girl that we all want to take to the dance. Realistically, anywhere between 80% and 90% of search traffic today comes from Google. So should we even care about Bing?

weight-loss-648689_1280The Internet Is Made for Porn

Every time the question of Bing comes up, someone kind of laughs and says “Well, it’s great for porn.” Then everyone kind of nods their head and chuckles, as though it’s just a joke. But it’s not. For the past few years Bing has actually been a remarkable search engine for pornography. Even when you didn’t want it to be. Even innocent searches would turn into pornographic ones, if you didn’t have your safe settings in place.

This is actually due to Bing/Yahoo’s algorithm, which has not “learned” the way that Google’s has that not all Internet searches can be judged based on popularity… because then the Internet would just be porn. What initially appears to be nothing more than a joke or a curious fluke is actually a very telling revelation of Bing’s major flaw as a search engine. It has no context; it’s not “smart.”

But that also means that it can be taken advantage of. Google has many exceedingly complicated algorithms designed to promote good content and demote spammy content. Bing/Yahoo provides a little of that — just enough that the web isn’t really, really atrocious — but not as much of it. So it’s probably understandable that some low quality sites may still focus on Bing, or that black hat techniques may frequent it.

hands-545394_1280But Some People Do Use Bing

And they’re not all perverts. For instance, this guy switched to Bing literally because he was being paid to do so (through Bing’s rewards). This weirdo thinks Bing is more aesthetically pleasing, because my search queries require a scenic backdrop. Others admit to using it because “it was default on [their] phone.” And it’s dumb, but that could actually be something we need to watch out for in the future — because most people don’t change the default search engines on their mobile devices, or even on their computers. (Who knows, maybe when Project Spartan ships, it’ll create a whole new wave of people who don’t know how to change their browser settings.)

Taking a broader view, it appears that Yahoo/Bing has a more mature age group, with more men than women. And yes, a great deal of mobile searches come from iOS, since Bing is the default search engine for both the browser and Siri queries. One might wonder if this skews the audience, and it most definitely does: as a whole, users on Bing tend to be wealthier. Why? Well, not to make too many assumptions, but it’s probably because they’re old enough that they don’t know how to change their default search engine.

UntitledOK, The Snark Aside… What About Ads?

As we move into more niche markets for our Google advertising, we realize that traffic isn’t necessarily anything. We’re using long-tail keywords and demographics to drill down to specific segments in Google… so why not use Bing? It really doesn’t make any sense to both claim that a smaller audience is better (in Google) and then claim that a wider audience is better (in Bing).

In fact, it appears as though Bing paid advertising could actually be more effective than Google ads. And less expensive. (Of course it’s less expensive; they’re desperate.) And if we’re going for a demographic that’s already within Bing’s small but stubborn realm, all the better. And if we’re paying per click, we can simply extend our advertising campaigns. Very few of us are actually paying for as much traffic as there is on offer.

But, of course, a PPC campaign is a radically different beast from search engine optimization. What about organic search? Are there ways that you can tailor your content to Bing in a way that Bing isn’t utterly irrelevant?

search-engine-optimization-687236_1280Search Engine Optimization  for Bing

Believe it or not — and you’ll probably believe it — there’s not a lot of information out there for SEO and Bing. While Google maintains a significant amount of Webmaster documentation and tools, Bing/Yahoo probably lost their own internal documentation years ago. Tailoring your site for Bing is a lot like tailoring your site for search engines circa 2008: a lot of keywords, above the fold content and fewer backlinks. Perhaps most hilariously, Bing only actually reads the first 100kb of a page. But unlike search engines in the days of yore, Bing pays attention to multimedia documents and social media signals. This probably pushes back to the whole porn angle, somehow.

Okay, so actually — tailoring your content towards Bing can actively harm your Google standing. For instance, Bing likes keyword-laden anchor text; Google hates it. But there are other areas in which the search engines aren’t at odds; Bing uses social media signals and Google simply discards them.

So, is it worth it to work Bing into your digital marketing campaign? It certainly seems as though PPC advertising may be more effective on Bing, or at least compelling enough to be tested. And if you happen to have a lot of resources at hand, it probably won’t hurt.

Bing/Yahoo can represent up to 20% of your market, depending on your industry, and that’s not an entirely insignificant amount. Moreover, Bing can more readily be manipulated and it has rather specific audience demographics — I mean, there’s like a 50% chance that the person finding your website is doing it through Siri.

 

DON’T Automate Everything

Do not automate

We’ve all heard the mantra: automate everything! And, automation is awesome. Marketing automation allows you to send informative email drip campaigns to prospects with little extra effort. It makes it easy to keep up with client anniversaries, birthdays, and even things like local weather in your client’s part of the world.

But, there’s a lot that still requires a human touch. A few places automated tools are almost guaranteed to steer you wrong:

ticked-checkbox-1280927-mSpelling and Grammar Checks

Automated tools can do some interesting things. They can, of course, identify most misspellings. Many can help you spot passive text or other issues. But, they are no replacement for manual proofreading. They won’t catch homonyms. They’ll give false positives for grammar issues or miss them altogether. And, if you are writing in a niche that’s heavy in technical jargon, a lot of the words you use won’t be in most spell check dictionaries at all.

twitterDMsNew Follower Greetings

How many automated DMs do you get from people you follow on Twitter? How many do you open? And, even if you do open them, how many times do you take the sender up on the inevitable invitation to visit their Facebook or LinkedIn? I mean, you just started following them on Twitter. What makes anyone think that you automatically want to traipse all across the web listening to everything they have to say? Or, even worse, immediately go to trying to sell them a service?

Instead, how about a simple, personal hello? Take a look at a new follower’s profile and find something specific to note in your response.

If you do need to automate, at least offer something instead of asking something from this person who has already been kind enough to increase your number of Twitter followers by one. Offer a four or five word bio, then ask them something about themselves. This way, you’re starting a conversation instead of turning them off.

Ad Bids

There are plenty of tools to automate your PPC bids. But, left unchecked, you can find that campaigns either get little reach or take a hefty chunk out of your advertising budget. There are a ton of analytic tools available. Use them to test ads and tweak your parameters based on performance. Over time, you’ll find that you are getting much better qualified clicks and making your budget go much farther.

Ad Targeting

Many marketers consider it a slam dunk: the prospect posts about a kayak trip and all of the ads he sees are suddenly about outdoor water sports. But, a recent study suggests that, rather than finding this serendipitous, modern surfers merely find it creepy. And, some targeting is incredibly tone deaf. I’ve seen Facebook friends who’ve complained of ads for counseling after confiding in a friend about depression, or weight loss ads after they’ve made a joke about eating the whole pie after dinner. Not cool, marketers.

Automation’s awesome. But, it’s not everything. Good thing, too, since a totally automated internet would put people like us out of a job. So, while we’re still a viable part of the online economy, take some time to do more by hand and get selective with what you automate.

SEO Q&A: Does Purchasing PPC Advertising on Google Help Your Search Engine Ranking?

Question: Does purchasing paid advertising help with organic search engine results? I know Google says it doesn’t, but have there ever been any tests to determine whether that’s truly the case?


It isn’t just Google that says that paid advertising has no affect on search engine results — Moz agrees, too. That doesn’t mean that PPC campaigns SEO don’t work great together. As Search Engine Watch points out, PPC campaigns give a marketer a lot of additional data to work with.

And there’s a correlative effect, too; marketers who are willing to spend money on PPC campaigns are more likely to have spent some time on their search engine optimization and site quality.

It’s easy to see why this myth keeps coming back. But a few moments of thought should make it really clear that this wouldn’t be ultimately beneficial to Google — or to anyone.

  • It would lower search engine quality as a whole, reducing the amount of control they have within the search engine industry.
  • It would be extremely obvious; marketers would notice it very quickly and thus be able to game the system.
  • If it wasn’t obvious, marketers wouldn’t be aware of it, and thus it wouldn’t help them.

The final reason is perhaps the most obvious. It’s silly for Google to promote PPC advertised sites in their organic search and then deny doing it, because that invalidates any reasons they might have for doing it. By promoting advertised sites in organic search, they would actually lessen the importance of PPC ads.

Funnily enough, this has actually led to a competing theory: that Google actually sabotages websites that invest in PPC advertising, so that they need to pay for more PPC advertising. But, again, that makes no sense — marketers crunch a lot of data, and this would just incline them to believe that PPC advertising had a negative effect on SEO somehow and should not be used.

But that’s not to say this is an entirely paranoid or naive thought. Companies like Facebook sabotage marketing efforts all the time — and Facebook is a big company and they make a lot of money in advertising. It’s worth it to be skeptical. In this particular situation, though, neither the numbers nor the logic add up.


Answer: Not directly, and certainly not as any initiative through Google. But there are indirect results of a PPC campaign that can help with organic search queries, such as improved data collection and site quality.