Most SEO strategies focus only on optimizing content for Google. When you do that, you’re bypassing a huge audience. Bing users alone perform approximately 12 billion searches every month.
And Bing actually provides a lot of information in their Webmaster Guidelines that makes it much easier to create content that ranks. Understanding these guidelines will help you build an SEO strategy that brings in more traffic from Bing users. But that’s not all; tailoring your content to Bing’s guidelines can also help you rank higher across other platforms.
When you consider how difficult it can be to keep up with Google’s ever-changing rules and regulations, knowing exactly what Bing is looking for when they review your content is a boon.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what Bing talks about in their Webmaster Guidelines, how they break down different types of information, and how you can use that information to increase website traffic. Creating high-quality content with real ranking potential has never been easier.
Understanding Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines
Unlike Google, Bing is very open about how they crawl and index websites. Their Webmaster Guidelines provide a framework that SEO professionals and marketers can use to create high-quality content that ranks. We can break this information down into two general buckets: content guidelines and technical guidelines.
- Content guidelines speak to the on-page aspects of your website—they include guidelines for what you write, what you link to, and how you promote it.
- Technical guidelines go a bit deeper, looking at the behind-the-scenes infrastructure and technology of your website.
Following these guidelines makes it easier for Bing to find and index your content, which makes it easier for them to rank and display it in the search results.
Bing aims to surface the most high-quality and relevant results available for any user’s search query. To do this, they look for ranking signals in the quality of your website, its relevance to the search query, and how it is linked to other authoritative content.Here’s a breakdown of the different elements that go into Bing’s content review process.
- Relevancy: The first thing Bing looks for is how relevant your content is to a user’s query. When you provide “clear, deep, easy to find content on your website,” that makes it more appealing. The goal here is for Bing to find and index content that provides the exact information their users are looking for.
- Quality: When Bing crawls your website, they want to find content that is “rich and engaging to the website visitor." If your website is too heavy with affiliate links or ads, that signals to Bing that it is of poor quality.
- Authority: Your website needs to be a reliable and trusted source of information. Bing decides this by looking at the links to your website and, to a slightly lesser degree, how your content is shared on social media. Organic link growth seems to be one of the most important ranking factors.
These three elements come together to give Bing a picture of your website’s ability to provide quality answers to a user’s question. When you’re creating a page, think about how it will satisfy these requirements. If you provide Bing with high-quality, relevant, and authoritative information, the search engine will provide you with more traffic.
Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines also talk through what you should avoid when creating content for your website. Any link buying or social media promotion schemes will have a negative impact on the quality of your website. The same goes for duplicate content and keyword stuffing. Make sure you’re not participating in any of these actions. Doing so will have a direct impact on your ability to rank well in Bing.
There’s a lot more that goes into building a high-quality site than words on a page. Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines break down how specific aspects of your site’s infrastructure contribute to a positive or negative ranking. A lot of these guidelines are related to how easy it is for Bingbot, Bing’s website crawler, to find and parse the data on your website.
Bing goes about crawling and indexing your site using standard elements like a sitemap and robots.txt file. Your sitemap ensures that Bing can find the most up-to-date version of your site structure and gives the Bingbot a specific path to follow to every page of your website. Submitting your sitemap is done directly through Bing’s Webmaster Tools.
Your robots.txt file tells Bingbot how to follow your sitemap. Creating this file gives you the ability to tell Bing what content to crawl and what content to ignore. It’s important to understand how Bing looks at redirects and canonical tags on your website.
- Redirects: Bing prefers 301 redirects. If you need to move content around on your website, using the correct redirect ensures that you’re not losing out on the historical value of the old URL.
- Canonical tags: The rel-canonical tag is used to tell search engines which URL is the original when there are multiple versions of the same page on your website.
Other issues Bing tells you to look out for are cloaking, meta refresh redirects, and misleading site markup.
- Cloaking: Never try to obfuscate the real content of your website from Bingbot.
- Meta refresh redirects: These spammy redirects will confuse Bing’s ability to figure out what content is actually being presented to the user.
- Misleading markup: When you mark up your site, it’s important to make sure it matches the content on your actual website 100%.
Bing tells you exactly what to look for and what to avoid in the Webmaster Guidelines. This information is incredibly valuable, not just for making your site appealing for Bing but for users as well. Understanding how to implement these guidelines ensures that you’re doing everything you can to provide relevant, high-quality answers to any questions that are asked in any search engine.
Boosting Website Traffic with Bing’s Webmaster Tools
Bing provides a lot of information on how to configure, manage, and update your website to make it more appealing to their search engine. Optimizing your website based on these guidelines will increase your ranking potential. And not only for Bing—the suggestions they make can help boost your rankings across other platforms as well.
Probably the most straightforward is their SEO guidelines, which codify how webmasters should think about structuring their websites.
SEO Configuration Best Practices
The structure of your website not only informs how Bing crawls it, it also provides a framework for visitors that’s concise and easy to follow. When you’re able to present your content this way, it signals value for both search engines and visitors, leading to higher rankings and more organic traffic.
Bing breaks down their SEO suggestions into sections, making it easy for you to implement. Think of this as a checklist, starting with some important HTML elements.
The <title> and <meta description> tags are the first thing a search engine or potential visitor sees when searching for your site. While Bing focuses on the clarity and relevancy of these meta tags, we’d also suggest you think about how they attract visitors to your site. The <title> and <meta description> tags need to make a great first impression to get someone to click on your site.
Bing also talks through linking strategies and how on-page elements factor into their evaluation of your site, but more on this later.
The Crawlability and Site Structure sections of Bing’s SEO guidelines talk through how you can make your site easy to crawl for Bingbot.
There’s a lot of technical and schematic elements discussed here, but it all boils down to pretty much one thing: usability. Bing built their crawler to review content in much the same way as human beings interact with your website. So the easier it is for Bingbot to parse information on your website, the easier it will be for visitors as well.
Making your website as easy to understand and valuable as possible will help increase how people share your content, which contributes to organic traffic growth as well as higher Bing rankings.
We’ve covered most of these issues in our discussion of the technical guidelines in the previous section. Now, onto the On-Page section. Bing breaks it down into two main sections: technical recommendations and content recommendations.
In the Head copy, Body copy, and Anchor text sections, Bing talks through the importance of relevancy again and provides character limits for your meta tags. This is where Bing walks through structural elements like H1, H2, and ALT tags, all of which provide context on what a page is about for both the crawler and a human reader.
Then they go further, talking through what the content experience should be like on any page.
These suggestions walk through how to think about building your content and linking to it, both internally and externally. All of this information is SEO gold because it’s cross-functional. The structure Bing is looking for is similar to Google’s requirements or those of DuckDuckGo, Yandex, or Yahoo. And if you ever want to see how Bing compiles all of this information, check out the Index Explorer.
Understanding how to create pages tailored to perform well from an SEO perspective makes them more attractive to both search engines and visitors. That leads to more visits, more sharing, and more overall website traffic.
Now, let’s look at some technical website optimization strategies you can use to get your page crawled and indexed faster.
Technical Website Optimization
Bing provides a number of resources for optimizing the back-end processes of your website for their search engine. We’ll talk through how some of these can help you get more traffic to your website easier and, more importantly, faster.
It all starts with submitting your website to Bing. Whenever you submit a URL, Bing automatically crawls and indexes the page for you. There’s no better way to make sure that any new or updated URLs are discoverable by Bing’s users.
After you submit your URLs to Bing, it’s important to set up precise crawl control as well. This ensures that every page you create is up-to-date in Bing’s index without impacting the experience of your website visitors. Bing provides a tool to manage when their crawler interacts most with your website.
The reason this is important is that crawling can impact PLT and general site speed. You want to make sure that when Bing is crawling your site, they aren’t interfering with your current website visitors’ experience.
Bing provides 11 different subsections in the “How to Configure My Site” section of their Webmaster Tools page to ensure you’re providing the best possible experience for users. Each subsection helps you craft a website experience that looks good to Bing and is appealing to users. That boosts your ranking potential and ensures that every page you create is ready for visitor traffic.
Using SEO analyzer and SEO Reports to Track Your Progress
With SEO Reports, Bing automatically creates weekly overviews for every page of your website. With SEO Analyzer, you can run the same report on an ad hoc basis. These reports provide valuable information on the structure and SEO standing of your website—use them to surface potential issues and make changes before they negatively impact your ranking potential.
To access these reports, you just need to make sure that the website you want to review is listed as a property in your Bing Webmaster Tools account. Your SEO Report will look something like this:
These reports review the quality of each indexed page of your website against approximately 15 SEO best practices. Any issues are broken down by severity, number of errors, and pages where the errors occur. When you click on the corresponding SEO Suggestions links, Bing provides more specific information on why they consider this an issue and the corresponding pages you need to change.
The most important element of this report is the Recommended Action, which tells you exactly what needs to be done to resolve the issue. From there, you can take a look at the Non-Compliant Pages individually and make the requisite updates directly. This streamlines the process of reviewing and optimizing your pages considerably.
Using SEO Analyzer gives you the ability to review content on a URL-by-URL basis instead of aggregating every page of your website into a single report. This makes SEO Analyzer a great tool for checking new or soon-to-be-updated pages.
The coolest thing about this tool is that it bypasses the robots.txt file entirely, meaning you can check any page you create before it’s indexed. When you do that, you’re making sure that any issues that could potentially hurt your website are taken care of before it’s searchable by visitors.
SEO Reports and SEO Analyzer make it easy to follow Bing’s SEO best practices. This not only ensures that you have the most ranking potential on their platform but across other search engines as well. With more ranking potential, you’re making it easy for potential visitors to find and consume your content, which leads to more traffic.
Bing Webmaster Guidelines Help You Create Better Content
When you understand what Bing is looking for in a quality website, it’s easier for you to build one from the start. Instead of playing catch-up to resolve issues that can hurt your ranking potential, you set up every page to bring in the most amount of traffic possible.
Bing also follows many of the same SEO best practices as Google—optimizing your content based on Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines can boost your rankings in Google as well. Don’t let a singular focus on Google cause you to miss out on this valuable information.