You may have noticed in my previous posts regarding Search Engine Optimization that I was overwhelmingly one-sided as far as the search engine referenced. I admit I am a fan of Google for my Internet searches. I use it at home, I use it at work, and I use it when I talk about SEO. There is a good reason for this – Google accounts for the lion’s-share of the search engine traffic within the United States.

According to an analysis of search engine traffic conducted by comScore, www.comscore.com, Google accounts for about 66% of all searches conducted within the U.S. Yahoo accounts for just under 17% of traffic and Bing (Microsoft) accounts for 11% of the traffic.

search engine traffic

Taking these numbers at face-value, it is apparent why Google is the main player when discussing Search Engine Optimization. The other players’ market share is minor compared to the Google giant. Therefore, you get the most bang for your buck by following the Google guidelines when optimizing your site.

But can you just ignore the other guy? Up until now, the prevalent wisdom has been yes; go Google and go Google hard. But there’s a new kid in town and he is itching for a fight. The new kid, in this case, is not the current #2 (for reasons you will see later) but the #3 player – Microsoft’s Bing. You are probably aware of Bing and may even use it yourself. Microsoft did not spare any money when they released their new search engine and launched a massive marketing campaign to go with it.

So why is it that Bing has caused a shake-up in the world of SEO? There are several factors but three major ones:
• Microsoft has enormous resources, money, and influence. This has allowed them to bring about the next two factors.
• Bing partnered with Yahoo earlier this year to provide the search results for Yahoo sites
• Bing has partnered with Facebook to incorporate the ‘likes’ of Facebook users and their friends

Microsoft and Yahoo announced earlier this year the plans to have Bing power the search results for users on Yahoo sites. Their stated expectation is to have this transition completed by the end of the year or early next year at the latest. As far as SEO considerations, this effectively merges the #2 and #3 players in the search engine market. Google’s 66% share still dominates the now combined share of Bing/Yahoo’s 28% but this makes it awfully hard to justify a Google-only attitude.

Perhaps the change with the biggest potential to cause Google headaches is the Bing / Facebook partnership. This partnership represents the first full marriage between a search engine and a social networking site. The fact that Facebook has become THE social networking site makes this all the more relevant. While there is some debate about how much the initial influence of ‘like’d pages will have on consumers’ searches on the Internet, there is no denying the potential for this partnership to drastically alter the world of SEO.

So with all that being said, what’s my point? Google has real competition and Bing should no longer be ignored. I don’t think there is a need or value in running out and trying to drastically alter the best practices proven to be effective for SEO. Bing and Google appear to use the same key elements for their rankings – good relevant content, pages with concentration on one subject, alt tags, keyword-rich page titles, site maps, etc… So there really isn’t a stark contrast between Bing SEO practices versus Google SEO practices although they obviously apply different values based on differences in their search results. For now, I would recommend the following:
• Be aware Bing is a potential up-and-coming player and watch for any more major announcements from them.
• Check out the Bing Webmaster Tools (similar to the Google Webmaster Tools) at http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmasters/Default.aspx• Submit your site to be indexed by Bing using the Webmaster Tools
• Submit any site that links to your site to be indexed by Bing
• Run some searches to see the differences between the search results using this neat little tool: http://www.bing-vs-google.com/• If you haven’t already, get a Social Media plan in place and begin implementing it (see some of our other great blogs for details on that)
• Don’t Panic

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