Bing and Google are two of the most well-known search engines around the world, and the debate is typically settled by users and digital marketers alike. The US search market will continue to be dominated by Google into 2021, with an 87.7% market share, while challenger Bing vs Google search engines such as Microsoft’s Bing have been trying to eat into Google’s share.
Microsoft’s search offering has been honed between these two periods while living in Google’s shadow. Paid search has seen glowing results in particular. Microsoft Advertising, the Bing equivalent to Google Ads, has been successful financially: though quarterly revenue growth was below expectations most recently, the company has increased revenue by 12.07 percent per quarter over the past three years.
Digital marketers should focus on Bing because it’s one of the most important areas to focus on. In this blog, we will discuss how Bing is a great opportunity for paid media managers and SEOs alike to generate traffic while also reaching new audiences. You need to understand the nuances of Bing and Google to take advantage of these features, particularly their ranking processes and PPC offerings.
Bing vs Google: Competitive Rivals
The UK search market is still dominated by Google, but Microsoft has seen some incremental gains over the past few years. In the United Kingdom, Google has an 87.7% market share, according to Statista. Bing’s share of the search market has risen from 6.85% in 2018 to 8.39% in 2021, a growth of about 9% over the past few years. Yahoo’s share of the market has fallen to just 2.25% based on the same source. A combined 11% of UK searches are performed by Microsoft-owned search engines.
Companies that face such competition are encouraged to improve their services and to find ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors; this kind of competition propels innovation and technological advancement. In competitive environments, differentiation enables brands to set themselves apart from others and thrive. For example, points of differentiation have developed between Bing and Google as a result of intense rivalry.
Differences Between Bing and Google
On the surface, there does not appear to be much difference between Bing and Google. These are both pay-per-click search engines engaged in paid advertising, and also follow similar algorithmic principles for ranking sites, such as linking patterns, technical health, etc. Despite this, organic results from searches using the same phrase in these search engines are drastically different. Next, we will explore some of the reasons behind this.
Bing vs Google: Differences in Ranking Factors
When we compare Google and Bing results, we see a considerable difference in weightings applied to certain ranking factors, even though there are many similarities in SEO ranking factors. If you want it to rank highly on both engines, you don’t have to revamp your entire website. You only need to make some tweaks to rank highly in Bing.
Ranking algorithms for both Bing and Google are based on a variety of technical factors, including mobile friendliness and page speed. Optimising your site’s structure and on-page technical SEO can yield positive results for your rankings on Google and Bing, even though there are certain discrepancies among the factors they deem relevant.
Use 301 redirects instead of temporary 302 redirects when implementing permanent redirects in SEO. Bing’s system automatically interprets 302 redirects as 301 after a few crawls, but Google can still have indexing issues when 302 redirects are used. Bing is unlikely to encounter any problems with 302 redirects. Nevertheless, you should avoid using 302 redirects when you need a permanent redirect when your site is optimized for Bing and Google.
According to a Google press release on Core Web Vitals released in 2021, it is a set of factors that makes the web more enjoyable for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites adapt to mobile expectations. If a website wishes to benefit from this new addition to the ranking algorithm, it will need to provide a high standard of user experience in terms of speed, responsiveness, and page stability.
Bing Examines Metadata More Closely
Technical aspects and content differences play large roles in Bing vs. Google ranking processes. Due largely to differences between their underlying approaches to analyzing sites across the web, the treatment of metadata and other signals on the page of the two search engines differs significantly.
The content understanding process applied by Bing is more heavily dependent on conventional approaches, including keywords in the domain, page titles, and metadata; Google is less dependent on these factors since it is more likely to use context to interpret language (especially after the introduction of RankBrain and BERT updates). The result is that SEOs have a harder time optimizing for Google than Bing.
Bing’s evaluation of a website relies on meta descriptions far more than Google’s. Bing includes these summaries as part of its ranking process, whereas Google simply uses them as advertisements for pages within its SERPs. A like manner, Bing rewards sites that use anchor texts that match their page titles, as opposed to Google, which doesn’t pay too much attention to this part of the ranking process.
In order to achieve good search engine rankings, your SEO strategy should take into account the ranking processes of both Google and Bing – all of these elements are mutually inclusive and neither of them will penalize websites that are optimised for both search engines. In addition, Google understands the language well, so it’s important to work for humans and avoid over-optimizing; at the same time, you can use keywords without stuffing the URLs, titles, and metadata with keywords. It is crucial to strike a balance between two aspects of content in general.
Bing Prefers Official Domain Types
Search engines prefer content that has either been around for quite some time or that has achieved significant traffic. Furthermore, Bing’s preference for official top-level domains like .gov or .edu is also evident in its preferring official top-level domains, whereas Google finds commercial or popular sites to be just as valuable in many cases. It’s important to compare the Bing and Google results since your site may not perform the same well for either search engine according to its domain type, as you can’t optimize for one search engine over the other.
Earlier we mentioned that backlinks were used to determine relative site authority in a PhD project called BackRub, which Google took as inspiration for its ranking system. Search engines still use backlink analysis as one of their primary ranking methods: the more links to your site, the more authoritative it will be (and stand out among the rest in search results). Bing prioritizes backlinks less, even though they are still a factor in ranking.
Google SEO places a greater emphasis on backlinks, but there are several significant similarities in the way both search engines treat links. Accordingly, the quality and relevance of backlinks are as important as the quantity when determining authority. Link equity is increased when links originate from well-established and relevant sites.
Bing Pays Attention to Social Signals
Earlier this year, Gary Illyes was asked if Google incorporates social signals into its search engine rankings (entailment between consumers and brands on Facebook). We don’t, he said in a concise manner. Social signals, however, are much more important to Bing, as it uses them as a ranking factor. It is more likely for Bing to rank highly because an increasing number of users like, share, and retweet the page. Your digital marketing strategy should now include some form of social media marketing, but Bing rewards your social media performance with a ranking boost.
Google’s Mobile-First Indexing
Google’s new policy of mobile-first indexing is well known to most SEOs. Google indexes and ranks mobile versions of sites, making it vital that all mobile content and metadata are optimized to mirror those of the desktop version. (In practice, implementing responsive design prevents having separate mobile and desktop sites at all.)
A previous announcement stated that mobile-first indexing would be applied to all websites by the end of 2020, but the timeline has now been extended until March 2021. For more information on mobile-first indexing, read our guide on optimizing mobile-dedicated versions. Sites that still have a mobile version must optimize and improve mobile user experience (UX) where possible.
When it comes to indexing content, Bing has very different policies than Google. Christi Olson has confirmed that Bing has no plans to institute a similar mobile-first indexing policy, saying the company maintains a single index that is optimized for both mobile and desktop searches in order to provide users with the most relevant, fresh, and consistent results. While this is the case, you should still consider Google’s mobile-first indexing to guide your SEO and UX efforts (as detailed in our guide), because doing so will not negatively affect your ranking on Bing.
Google Has Additional SERP Features
Many SERP features have changed over the past few years, but Bing has kept up with changes. Though many of the following search result features were first developed by Google (except for the Twitter SERP feature), they are now used by both engines:
- Knowledge cards/panels/carousels
- Maps (local packs)
- News (top stories)
- In-depth articles
- Featured snippets (text/list/table)
- Related searches
As a result, there are some instances where Bing decides not to follow the way its main competitor does in this regard. As is the case with scholarly literature (Google Scholar), Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) SERP features are conspicuously absent from Bing search results. You might see increased SERP features on both search engines as a blessing or as a curse, depending on your situation.
In Google’s SERPs, featured snippets and people also ask (PAA) boxes are causing some SEOs concern, citing studies that suggest they lower click-through rates (CTRs) for all sites on the first page. Due to this, the removal of featureds snippets from the organic listings beneath them has become increasingly popular since Google introduced this change – particularly within ecommerce, some sites are using the nosnippet of max-snippet meta tags in place of featured snippets.
Other members of the digital marketing community strive to obtain featured snippets and similar elements in order to grab SERP real estate. However, in cases where the query is answered within the featured snippet itself (why would you click through to another webpage if your query was already addressed in the SERPS?) still using featured snippets can allow sites to target users with niche questions and improve relevant traffic to their website.
Bing is More Visually Immersive
According to Bing’s description, Microsoft Bing released a number of updates to their search features in March 2021 in order to provide users with “search results that seamlessly combine information and visually rich imagery in a single view”. As with Google, this won’t require users to leave the SERPs in order to receive their query answer – a pleasing innovation for those users who don’t like reading large amounts of text.
This information is presented in a visually appealing manner and presents clear, factual information that can be quickly obtained. Each fact in the infographic contains a link to a specific source website, offering a unique optimization opportunity for SEOs. The infographic search feature is different from Google in that all websites are listed as usual within the SERPs.
Additional search features, such as expanded carousel search and intuitive information highlighting, decrease the need for users to click off the results page. By hovering over an image in a carousel, users can see a larger version of the image with bite-sized information. In addition to recipes, ‘how-to’ information can be included from a website using a side panel that displays information directly on the results page.
Essentially, Microsoft Bing provides users with relevant information directly from Microsoft through engaging design rather than by visiting a website and sifting through large amounts of text. The visual experience will be a lot richer with Bing than with Google.
Bing and Google Maps Side by Side
Google and Bing both have map features that are essential to their search engine offerings: these map features are widely used and are now an integral part of their services. In the context of local search, we briefly examined the differences between them; however, it’s worth going a little deeper.
In addition to direction and sharing, both maps offer the capability of adding information about the location or business to a knowledge panel. Both UIs feature a map as their main section – this map can be zoomed in and moved around. It is the directions and data that accompany them that differentiate Bing Maps from Google Maps the most. These two web mapping services provide different journey times and route information.
For instance, Bing suggests a 2 hour 39 minute drive to St Pancras Station in London, while Google estimates a 2 hour 45 minute drive. Across other trips, Google tends to increase estimated journey times by around three to five percent, according to Bing’s estimates.
Despite the fact that Google Maps doesn’t play a very important role in SEO, it is interesting how it provides the fastest route between locations. Bing Maps does not consider the potential significant impact a bridge closure along the way may have on the route opting for Impression-St Pancras directions, for example.
Voice Search – Bing and Google Comparison
Approximately 48% of consumers surveyed by Adobe conclude that they use voice search for “general web searches” and 39% use virtual personal assistants (VPAs) through smart speakers. Clearly, voice search offers SEOs and digital marketers wide-ranging opportunities. However, how do Bing and Google differ in terms of their functionality?
According to previous comments, voice search users enjoy different advantages with the two search engines. According to Clark Boyd who writes for Search Engine Watch, Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana has superior voice recognition capabilities but does not understand context as well as the Google Assistant does. Consider recent developments from Google, such as the BERT algorithm update, and the point regarding the understanding of context makes sense.
In addition to voice searches, many smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo are used for voice search. We might also be interested in knowing which of these two engines’ results are more commonly used to answer queries given that these devices are one of the primary means of voice searches in the United States.
As far as we know, Bing does not answer more smart speaker VPA queries than Google. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa – three of the four virtual personal assistants – use Bing for this purpose, while only Google Assistant uses Google to provide its answers. Therefore, Bing is more likely than Google to provide answers to questions made by smart speaker users.
It doesn’t matter where your website’s results are derived from, the process of optimizing it for voice search is the same. In turn, this means that SEOs can use the same optimization techniques to ensure that their content appears in both Bing and Google’s voice search results. Take a look at our dedicated voice search article for more details about optimising your site.
Bing vs Google: Paid Advertising
When comparing the two search engine giants from an organic search perspective, we have already compared the majority of their differences. The last comparison between Bing and Google is about the paid advertising services that the two search engines offer: Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads). Whether managing Microsoft Advertising Management or Google Advertising Management, Impression believes in the value of both platforms.
Many businesses wonder which platform has the highest reach when they begin with PPC advertising. Due to Google Ads’ dominance in the search market from an early stage, it’s no surprise that Microsoft Advertising has a far smaller reach than Google Ads.
Bing announced a new ad format for 2021 called Multimedia Ads that combines images, headlines, and descriptions using machine learning to create visually immersive search ads. Multimedia Ads will only appear on one page per page, giving them greater prominence in SERPs. There is no similar ad format available with such exclusivity through Google Ads.
Microsoft continues to struggle in a competitive PPC landscape dominated by Google Ads. In exchange for this position, businesses have to compete hard for Google’s PageRank, which can be deterring to start-ups and smaller firms. Ranking high on Google requires higher quality scores and significant investment than on Bing.
Next, we have to compare the cost of Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. Microsoft Advertising has lower cost per clicks (CPCs) on different keywords than its ad rival, resulting in lower campaigns cost overall. There’s a tradeoff between price and audience volume – Google Ads may cost more but reach a larger audience over Microsoft (although this is not true in some verticals).
A similar difference can be found in the audience composition of Bing. Typically, challenger search engines are used by older users with higher levels of education than Google’s average user, so businesses targeting this demographic can benefit from working with the UK’s second-most popular search engine. Spreading paid search ads across both channels can ensure even coverage for brands that have adopted a mass market targeting strategy.
Furthermore, both paid advertising services offer different targeting options. By targeting specific user segments based on demographics, both platforms help websites improve the efficiency of their advertising. From remarketing to dynamic ads, Google Ads offers numerous targeting options. Microsoft Advertising also offers several targeting options, but is considered less advanced than its principal competitor in this regard. A new targeting feature called Similar Audiences will be released by Bing in 2021, although it is restricted to the US market for now.
Microsoft Advertising lets you create target segments based on the information in the LinkedIn profiles of your customers. Some types of businesses can find this information very useful, especially if they want to target users in specific industries (for example, recruitment firms would benefit from this data). By targeting employees of certain companies more specifically, it is also possible to advertise to them. LinkedIn Ads are the only ones that can target by LinkedIn.
For businesses trying to decide which PPC platform to choose, we would recommend using both of them as part of an integrated digital marketing strategy. In combining the two search engines, users see the best performance overall when their ads are shown to both groups of users, since each search engine has unique downsides, merits, and audiences.
Each search engine offers its own benefits. Microsoft Bing has significantly improved its search offerings to differentiate itself from competitors, heading towards a more visually immersive search experience. Google still dominates the market because it offers additional search features and takes a mobile-first approach to indexing.
This guide’s third section compared the paid advertising services of the two search engines (Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising). Google AdWords, launched in 2000 as Google AdWords, predates Bing by six years. A key point to keep in mind is that Google remains the dominant force in PPC, despite numerous attempts by Microsoft to gain a share of the market.
Finally, we compared Google Ads to Microsoft Advertising: the former service is more expensive, has a larger reach, and offers a variety of targeting options, which will appeal to businesses that want to incorporate both services into their PPC network. Using both platforms will allow you to tap into both platforms’ unique features as well as reach a much wider audience.