SEO for Google vs Bing: How Different are They?

SEO for Google vs Bing: How Different are They?

16th May 2011

This post is part of our coverage of SMX Advanced London 2011. It is a panel discussing the differences between Google and Bing and how or if we should be optimizing for these differently.

In this post we will describe the talks from Gill Reich, VP of Product Management, at and Daniel Ruby, Research Director at Chitika. They took an in depth look at the differences between the search engines.


Firstly some basic demographics:

– The biggest difference between the browsers: 87% of Bing users come from IE vs 47% of Google users from IE

– Users of Bing predominately come from the US –  83% vs just under 50% for Google

– Top cities are all US for Bing vs Google where only NYC is the only American city in its top 10 traffic-generating cities.

Bing’s Growth

Yahoo! and Bing are potentially monetising better than Google and seeing significant growth. This double combination is enough to warrant a second look. Users of Bing are generally less tech savvy therefore generate a greater value per impression, this is worth taking into account.

There are varying views on how well/poorly Bing/Yahoo! will do over thecoming months. Some (Mashable apparently) say that at  this rate, Bing could potentially surpass Google within the next year.

Sounds more than a little optimistic to me. Others (Henry Blodget) suggest that the traffic acquisition costs are more than three times their revenue as they try to hit scale.

Bing is buying their traffic at the moment, hoping this will pay off in the long run. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.

Portals and Platforms

Take the MSN homepage  as an example– not only is there a search box that points to Bing but it  also includes footer links and sidebar links that point to search results on Bing.

Looking at upstream traffic to Bing – 21% comes from MSN whereas Google has a wider variety of sources including 17% Facebook followed by YouTube etc.

Bing SERPs are clearly centred around their own properties – e.g. above the fold predominately centred around links back to MSN pages. Google is much more open, it powers the entire web. E.g. Adsense  = a large chunk of pages on web are advertising Google and monetising large amount of the web.

Bing is focusing on being a portal. Google a platform.

How Gill came to Understand Search Engines’ Importance

Search engines were  previously always used to help you find websites. Now search engines, particularly Google, is how you find information. Often you barely even know you are on another site. This makes it very difficult for webmasters.

People no longer think of search engines as a way to find a website with an answer, they see it as a direct means to an end.

Summary of the talk by Gill Reich

  • Users are different (Country, browser)
  • Searches are different (context, number of words)
  • Engines are different (technology & business models)

Bing has got significantly better but Google’s technology is still in a league of its own. This sets it apart.

A more in-depth look at Bing

Daniel Ruby, Research Director at Chitika.

Why should I care about Bing?


Yahoo/Bing has become the first volume related competitor to Google in years. Based on traffic generated by search engines – even though Bing serves much more as a portal, it does still drive traffic. 15-18% for Chitika.

Value per impression

Both Yahoo! and Bing users are more likely to click on an ad, so they’re worth more as monetisation tool.

What affects my Bing Postioning?

By and large, it’s similar to Google – content, links etc.

The differences between Bing and Google?

1. Bing does not like forums, 90% of forum results show up further down Bing results than Google results.

Many forum results that Google positions on the front page don’t appear in Bing’s top 100.

2. Bing does not like content farms

Even post-Panda, Bing tends to rank low quality content sites lower than Google positions.

3. Bing is significantly worse than Google at broad matching keywords such as 401k – Retirement Plan

Verbatim keyword matching is much more important for Bing traffic. Be more verbatim in your keyword strategy for Bing, don’t expect it to understand synonyms and context as well as Google does.

4. URL results are ineffective

If a user searches for a url, Google will assume that the user is looking for information on the url and will also show results with that URL as keyword

5. Bing is more likely to show related searches, sites that are similar to that original searched-on url

6. Phone number searches

Bing provides fewer results, assumes that if you don’t find the number you are looking for within the first couple of pages –  there is no point in showing more ‘spammy’ types of results.

7. Ambiguous searches

If a search has multiple possible meanings, Bing will err of the side of local results whereas Google is more likely to err on the side of brand.

General observations

Bing more likely to censor ‘questionable’ content such as watching copyrighted tv shows online, finding free essays, cheats etc. It also seems to struggle with parsing PDF files compared with Google.

Summary of the talk by Daniel Ruby

– The number one long-tail results on Google will appear on Bing’s first page 67% of the time, Bing/Google have a lot of fractured results crossover.
– So do I need to focus on Bing? Yes, according to Daniel. And yes again.
– The traffic is growing and it is valuable.


Someone who could be a competitor is Yandex. The session at SMX ended with a few words from Andy Atkins-Kruger on his experience of Yandex having visited Moscow and met its founder Ilya Segalovich recently.

Yandex is focusing increasingly on MLR (Machine-Learned Ranking), which some are suggesting is also the preferred route for Bing. Google uses this to a much lesser degree, favouring it only for the Adwords algorithms. This could lead to increased differences further down the line.

All in all, Bing is growing and isn’t about to go away. It can provide valuable new visitors that may not reach your site if you focus all of your efforts solely on Google. It’s worth taking the time to consider it.

(Thanks to Razorfish for the image!)

More posts about Bing vs Google that might interest you:

Google or Bing: The Royal Wedding
Searches on Bing More Successful than on Google
The Bing and the Beautiful
Bing keeps denying copying Google and accuses Google of clickfraud
Osama Bin Laden killed: how did Google and Bing respond?
Why Bing will be trailing on Google and why it should hook up with Apple and Facebook


Written By
Originally from the UK via France and Malaysia, Annabel Hodges is a digital marketer with long experience in the industry now residing in Sydney. She heads up the Digital Marketing at Next Commerce, working across an array of products, channels and brands.
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