According to an announcement by Experian Hitwise, Google’s share of organic search plummeted to <65% in March, down more than 2% from February. Bing’s share rose to just above 30% in March, up about 1.5% from February.
I believe that until this announcement, many SEO practitioners thought a SERP was a Google Search Engine Results Page. But now we’re all going to have to take Bing seriously. Certainly Google does: Google’s Matt Cutts recent accusation that Bing copies Google’s results makes that obvious.
The Hitwise article is worth a read, but for those who are pressed for time, I’ve summarized the main table below. I have to admit that I don’t understand the arithmetic of the table as the percentage change numbers appear incorrect. And for an explanation of what they mean by Bing.com and Yahoo as opposed to Bing I’m going to refer you to the article.
|Percentage of US Searches|
|Search Engine||Feb-11||Mar-11||Month-over-Month Change|
After seeing these results, I started wondering how Bing calculates the ranking on its SERPs versus the way Google does. If it’s different, we SEO practitioners need to know what those differences are so that we can help our clients do better on Bing and Google.
I started off trying to find this answer by using Google through force of habit :). I found a really neat little site called Bing vs. Google. It splits your screen vertically into two panes, one for each search engine. You enter your search string into an entry box right in the middle between them, and then it presents each engine’s SERP in its own column.
The first thing I noticed was that Google had more PPCs visible on their SERP than Bing did, and yes the results were different for some entries. But as I wanted to know more about Bing’s SEO algorithms. I kept looking.
I did find one interesting study compiled by the kind folks over at Six Revisions.
It was called SEO for Bing Versus Google and it explored 6 differences in the approach used by the two search engines to rank a page on their SERPs. Again you can grab the details by clicking this link, so I’ll just summarize them here:
1. Backlinks Are Less Important in Bing
2. PageRank Matters Less in Bing
3. Fresh Content Matters Less in Bing
4. Bing is More Flash Content Friendly
5. Inbound Anchor Text Matters More in Bing
6. Page Authority Matters More in Bing than PageRank (no surprise here).
The good news is that none of these items will force one to chose one engine’s hot buttons over the other. Yet. In other words, no item on the list will result in a penalty if you decide to stress one engine versus the other.
- If backlinks are less important on Bing, having more of them for Google’s sake isn’t going to hurt you.
- The 5th item, as explained by the Six Revisions article, is that the anchor text should use the same words as the title of the page you’re linking to. According to Hitwise’s research, this appears to count for more on Bing than it does on Google. But, again, it’s pretty important in Google anyway, and so you would still use the same strategy for both engines.
But it’s early days and this is just the first of many studies. I see a dilemma brewing here. When the two engines start publishing conflicting ways of scoring higher rankings on their own SERPs, we’re going to have to balance our effort to win on both. And that’s the sea-change I think we’re in for: Interesting times ahead indeed.
Bit-by-Bit #45 from Eric.