Here’s a nice little dinner party icebreaker for you.
Did you know Bing stands for ‘Because it’s not Google’?
<shuffles uncomfortably in his seat before agreeing to explain what Bing is>
Maybe not, then. You see, Bing – Microsoft’s answer to Google (if you’ll excuse the pun) – probably isn’t on your fellow diners’ bookmark lists. And, unless they’re die-hard Microsoft fans, it’s almost definitely not their default search engine of choice.
When was the last time you suggested someone ‘Bing it’ when an argument erupted over whether or not <insert celebrity name here> was still alive?
Never – that’s when. Because, unlike Google, ‘Bing’ hasn’t made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb.
But does that mean it’s an irrelevance for users and businesses?
A different experience
It pays at this juncture to undertake a little comparison between Google and Bing.
The former has remained resolutely true to its roots for many years now, with the homepage being nothing more than a big search box and a couple of buttons. Users who sign into Google’s many services will get a few extra options at the top, but that really is it; Google is a no-frills, tried-and-tested search tool that simply delivers on its promise.
Bing is a rather different animal. While it also makes search the most prominent feature, scroll down and you’ll find a rather different approach to its homepage.
We’re presented with trending news stories, images of the day, ‘on this day in history’ and quick links to the stories behind recent Bing background images.
On that note, Bing is, arguably, far prettier than Google. Regardless of whether you’re into minimalist design or eye-smacking imagery, Microsoft’s search engine has long been the more attractive of the pair.
But what does this extra functionally and beauty mean when you’re competing against a search engine that’s welded into the minds of nearly everyone on the planet?
Digging into the numbers (and myths)
Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin last year published a fascinating blog post that delves into some of the myths about search engines and their respective market shares.
Let’s look at the most compelling:
- Google has a ‘near-monopoly’ in the market, with over 90% of web search volume
- Google’s ownership of search has been stable for the last three years compared to Amazon or Facebook’s relatively small gains in that market
- YouTube is the second largest search engine, but Google images has 4x more search volume
So, what about Bing? Finding reliable information about its search market share is tricky, but there’s a reason for this.
In 2009, Microsoft successfully encouraged Yahoo! to use the Bing engine for searches. This went live in 2012, and despite an amendment to the agreement in 2015 that saw only the ‘majority’ of Yahoo! searches powered by Bing, it might come as a surprise to users of the former that their results are actually coming from Microsoft’s search engine.
In 2013, Apple made Bing its default search platform for iOS (although, this has since changed back to Google), giving it an even greater presence in the market.
While these partnerships do skew the market share figures somewhat, they do at least prove that Microsoft’s strategy of collaborating with others has helped ensure Bing doesn’t sink without trace against the might of Google.
A few reasons you might want to add Bing to your marketing strategy
Bing clearly demands some of your attention as a business owner – if not as much as Google.
But you might need convincing – particularly with so little time available to most small and medium sized businesses when it comes to search engine marketing (and budgeting).
We think there’s a few compelling reasons Bing is worth investing time in.
1. There might be lower competition
While not guaranteed, the fact that most businesses will put Google above Bing in their list of priorities means you might encounter less competition for searches on Microsoft’s platform.
Gaining a higher spot in Bing search rankings may not result in masses of new customers for your business, but it could bring in a few that may have otherwise passed you by.
2. It has some great web analytic tools
Google Analytics (GA) remains one of – if not the – best sources of website data for businesses, but Bing’s Webmaster Tools can be just as insightful.
It can do some stuff GA can’t, too, such as monitoring site security and accessing keyword research and optimisation opportunities without forcing you to access a different tool.
3. Bing might be cheaper
Again, don’t bank on this definitely being the case, but Bing’s lower search traffic make it a good choice for advertisers who can’t afford to use Google Ads.
A bit like you’ll probably benefit from higher natural search listings, Bing’s ad platform puts you in front of a smaller audience that isn’t as hotly contested as it might be on Google. And that could result in a far better ROI.
4. Bing actually tells you how it ranks
Like Google, Bing doesn’t disclose its exact algorithm calculations, but it does provide far more information than the former about what it deems to be important ranking factors.
Can you imagine Google publishing a page like this?
Let’s not beat around the bush – you probably haven’t used Bing this week. Or last week. Or, come to think of it, this year. But that doesn’t mean it lacks value for your business.
While we’d certainly recommend treading with caution when it comes to how much time you devote to Bing search marketing, there’s no escaping the fact it has a ready-made audience for your business which your competitors may be ignoring.