In marketing, “search engine optimization” is synonymous with “Google marketing.”
With good reason!
Google is responsible for well over 90% of all internet search traffic globally. It makes sense that marketers would focus their efforts where they’ll get the best returns.
Google isn’t the only search engine worth watching, though. You can often tell the difference between a good and a mediocre marketer by whether or not they pay attention to other search engines.
There are differences between the search results, but Bing/Microsoft controls both. Yahoo is relevant here because the Bing index has powered it since 2009, so many of the same techniques used to rank on Bing will also work for Yahoo. If you look for Yahoo Webmaster Tools, it’ll just tell you to visit Bing.
Sure, 90% of traffic comes from Google. Still, if you could increase your traffic by 7-10% with ease, would you take the opportunity?
We wrote this tutorial to cross another item off your SEO checklist.
Let’s get started!
Here’s an interesting question: does verifying your site with Bing improve your SEO? The answer is yes… for Bing. Google neither has access to Bing’s webmaster tools nor cares about it. Your Google ranking won’t change a bit.
Bing may have already indexed and ranked you – their crawlers are almost as good as Google’s, even if their market share isn’t – so you may not gain all that much right away. Your Bing search engine ranking, on the other hand, just might. It largely depends on how well-optimized your site is and how much of it Bing already knows about.
For example, maybe your site has a bunch of spammy backlinks. On Google, you may have already disavowed links, so they aren’t hurting you. Perhaps you used some bad SEO techniques in the past, or you were the target of a Negative SEO attack. Maybe it’s just spam that has built up over time.
But what if they’re hurting you on Bing? Taking care of the issue with Bing can improve that aspect of your SEO, as Bing has a disavow tool that you can use to disavow links like you can on Google Search Console.
There’s also the indirect impact of Bing SEO. Bing has a surprisingly good analysis of search keywords and your relevance to them, and those keywords will be different than what people are looking for on Google.
They won’t be that different – the core concepts are the same regardless of search engine – but specific variations and long-tail keywords can differ.
By retrieving keyword research information from Bing, you may find opportunities to create new content and rank for new keywords you might not have known about. And, sure, some of them may not be relevant to Google audiences, but every little bit helps when you’re running a blog, right? This feature may be the one keyword research tool that gives you legitimate stats from search engines, which is invaluable to marketers, even at a smaller scale.
Will you get more traffic to your site if you verify on Bing? Probably! Again, Bing (and Yahoo) account for 4-5% of global search traffic and nearly 10% of US search traffic. That’s a pretty significant amount of search volume.
Of course, you probably already at least exist on Bing. It’s not like they ignore you just because you’ve forgotten them. You’re likely already getting some organic traffic from Microsoft’s ecosystem. Still, it may not be as impressive as the visitors you could be attracting from Bing if you optimize your search presence.
Moreover, if you have problems according to Bing, solving them can improve your site search performance with both Bing and Google. You don’t want to do something detrimental to Google while appeasing Bing. Still, the two have a similar idea of what’s important in search, so their recommendations will be comparable.
If your site appears differently on different search engines, that can be important to recognize.
In addition to traffic and SEO ideas and problem-solving, can you get value from Bing?
Sure! For one thing, many people report that Bing traffic is generally higher quality than Google traffic, with lower bounce rates and higher engagement rates. Maybe you’re getting fewer users from it, but those users will generally be better for your site.
Google loves to obfuscate their data – rest in peace, Keyword Planner data – while Bing is more up-front with it. You can find new topic ideas to cover in your dashboard.
And, of course, there’s the option to dig into other Bing/Microsoft tools. Microsoft Clarity, for example, is an optional analytics platform similar to Google Analytics but in some ways even better. Clarity has heatmaps and other features that Google Analytics lacks to give you an idea. It’s also free and can import Google Analytics data to have it all in one place.
That’s just a hint of what you can get out of Bing.
There’s just one question: how can you get started?
If you’re convinced, here’s how you can get started with Bing.
Clicking here will take you to the homepage for Bing Webmaster Tools. You can log in using OAuth through a Microsoft account, a Google account, or a Facebook account. Pick whichever is appropriate, usually a business account, like your business Gmail.
Alternatively, you can create a Microsoft account for your business and use that. Remember, any email communications from Bing will go to this email address, so check it periodically.
Bing has two options for adding your site; manual and import. Manual involves typing in your site URL. Import allows you to authenticate your Google Search Console account, grant Bing read-only permission to pull your data, and automatically handle it.
Generally, the Import option is the easiest. It streamlines the process and pre-populates your Bing dashboard with some data from Google Analytics. It also alleviates the need to manually verify your site with Bing the way you (probably) did with Google; they can piggyback off Google’s verification.
It will take 2-3 days for Bing to thoroughly scrape, analyze, and generate reports on your site. You can take a few more actions to set up your webmaster tools, but you won’t be able to start interacting with your data just yet.
If you didn’t import data from Google, you would need to verify your site. You will need to either:
All three options have their steps laid out in Bing, so pick the easiest one for you to manage with your site structure and verify. You may also be able to verify through whatever SEO management plugin you’re using for your site, like RankMath, Yoast, or All-in-One for WordPress.
If you import your data, Bing can probably find your sitemaps via looking for them in your Google Search Console. But why wait? You can submit your sitemaps directly to Bing. In the left-hand column, click the Sitemaps entry to go to the sitemaps report.
Or, click here. On that pane, you can click the “Submit Sitemap” button and paste your sitemap URL. This will automate the URL submission process as long as all of your new web pages are present in your sitemap.
If your site has more than one sitemap, you can submit all of them here, one at a time. Many WordPress sites, for example, might have a post sitemap, a category sitemap, an image sitemap, and a sitemap index sitemap.
Bing supports XML, RSS, Atom, and Text sitemaps, too. It should be easy to submit URLs with your sitemaps, similar to how you would on Google Search Console.
You can do a few other things to set up your Bing Webmaster account and get the ball rolling.
First, Bing will ask you to complete your profile. They want to know your name, country, phone number, company name, job title, and industry.
It’s all personal profile stuff, and it’s not part of your public profile (Bing won’t share your phone number, for example), but they’ll keep an annoying % complete box around if you don’t fill it out. Note that if you’re not comfortable giving Bing your phone number, you can plug in a 555 number, and they will accept it. Just make sure that, if you need support later, you change it to your actual number just in case.
Another thing you might want to do is text your robots.txt file to make sure you aren’t blocking the BingBot or Yahoo bots, which would prevent Bing from indexing your site. In the left-hand column, there’s a “robots.txt tester” entry. Click that, plug in the URL of your robots.txt file (usually in your root directory), and you’ll be able to see what’s in it and if it’s blocking Bing.
You can test any random URL, from your homepage to a blog sub-page to an attachment or category page, to see if Bing is blocked.
You may want to enforce blocking for specific URLs. It’s not uncommon to have SEO issues when a search engine indexes all of your attachment pages, so blocking that kind of page can be a good idea. You can block URLs directly within your dashboard if crawl control is a concern, such as blocking sensitive membership pages or login pages that shouldn’t be indexed.
You can also try a site scan. This link takes you to the site scan page, where you can initiate a scan of your site and see what issues might crop up.
Name your scan, choose a scope (a full site scan is best for your first scan) and configure any specific settings you want from the dropdown. For a small site, the defaults will be fine. If you have a few thousand pages, you may need to limit what it scans.
If you’re a WordPress user, you can install the Bing Webmaster Tools plugin, automatically submitting new URLs to Bing.com once you link an API key. It’s free and automatic but not necessary if you don’t want yet another plugin.
Bing can give you more traffic and users to read your content and click your calls to action, but that’s not all. Using Bing Webmaster SEO Tools can provide insight into minor SEO errors or crawl errors you may have overlooked in Google’s labyrinth of recommendations and guidelines.
Moreover, Bing’s keyword analysis tool can give you insight into keywords you can try to target, and the backlinks report can show you what inbound links Bing detects along with the destination URL and anchor text.
Another benefit is that Microsoft loves when people sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools, so there’s a pretty good chance they’ll give you $100 in PPC ad credit for Bing Ads. You can use this credit to get a bit of free advertising. Who knows; maybe you’ll find Bing PPC a powerful channel. It certainly has less competition than Google Ads, that’s for sure.
There’s not much difference in how you use Bing’s Tools versus Google’s Tools.
They’re both sources of analytics data and information, and they can help you troubleshoot problems, optimize for audiences, and inspire new content. Keep an eye on it, fix errors, and create new content, and you’ll be well on your way to getting more traffic and SEO value from Bing search results.
Are you receiving any search traffic from Bing, and did our article inspire you to improve your presence with Bing Webmaster Tools? Do you have any questions for us on this process? Please share with us in the comments section! We’d love to get a conversation started on this subject, and we make a point to respond to all constructive comments on our blog.