Which Search Engine: Google or Bing?
Which is the best search engine for your SEO agency to use?
If you are an SEO agency or digital marketer, you most probably think of Google by default when optimising for SEO.
But there is a new kid on the block. Microsoft Bing.
When we say new kid, Bing has actually been around for years. But in October 2020 it was rebranded as Microsoft Bing. When announcing this change, Microsoft explained that it “reflects the continued integration of our search experiences across the Microsoft family.”
Whilst most people still view Google as the clear leader in terms of search engines, Microsoft Bing continues to up its game, so should be firmly on your radar.
But what are the search experiences referred to, and how do they compare with Google?
In this article we take a look at some of the key differences between Google and Microsoft Bing. Depending on your business objectives, you may need to prioritise one over the other. Or you may decide to try and optimise your websites to ensure that they are picked up by both search engines in future.
Let’s take a look at six key areas of searching, and see how Google and Microsoft Bing compare.
Google vs Bing – Search algorithms
Both Google and Microsoft Bing have comprehensive search functionality, covering the main search categories such as text, image, video, maps, news and shopping. Google currently has additional search functionality over Microsoft Bing, for example books, flights, and finance, but Microsoft Bing is likely to catch up in those areas soon.
The main difference between them in terms of search functionality is in terms of technical SEO. There are four key factors you need to be aware of.
Google and Microsoft Bing use different algorithms when searching for relevant content for users. Whilst Google can’t constantly crawl the entire web, it will search a wide variety of website domains, with different crawling frequencies.
Bing has a smaller capacity so has a more limited algorithm to determine which sites to crawl and how often. It tends to prioritise official more established domains such as .edu or .gov.
Keywords and metadata
Bing focuses quite heavily on keywords and metadata in the search process. So if you are optimising for Microsoft Bing, accurate meta descriptions can make a significant difference to your ranking. Microsoft Bing also pays attention to anchor text, and its correlation with URLs and page titles.
Google has more complex algorithms based on natural language. Whilst keywords can be included in page titles and metadata, they are not as crucial as for Microsoft Bing, due to Google’s more advanced interpretation of language.
Backlinks are important for both Google and Microsoft Bing, both in terms of numbers of links and also the authority, quality and relevance of the links.
However, Google uses backlink analysis as one of its main methods of ranking websites, whereas for Microsoft Bing it is regarded with less significance.
Google vs Bing – Mobile search
One major difference between Google and Microsoft Bing is that Google has a mobile-first index, whereas Microsoft Bing just has one single index that is optimised for both desktop and mobile.
Google’s mobile-first index means that it uses a mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing. So you need to ensure that you optimise all metadata and mobile content to match the desktop version. Ideally, use responsive web design to avoid having separate websites for desktop and mobile, and ensure that your UX is equally impressive on all versions of your website.
Google vs Bing – Image and Video search
Whereas Google perhaps has a better interface than Microsoft Bing for image search, Microsoft Bing has some additional features that Google lacks. For example, it includes filtering features which enable you to search by image size, colour, layout or type. It also has a visual image search that can help you to identify landmarks, people and animals.
Bing also has a much more visual video search results page than Google. Google presents video search results as a vertical list of small thumbnails, but Microsoft Bing returns a grid view of large thumbnails. This enables you to either preview or play the videos without leaving Microsoft Bing. If the video is from a movie, the results will also include information about the movie such as the cast, ratings and reviews.
Google vs Bing – Shopping
Until recently, Google provided better shopping suggestions than Microsoft Bing, returning more details of suppliers and prices of specific products. However, Microsoft Bing has made recent changes that now include information such as product specifications, ratings, reviews, and historic price comparisons.
All of which means that Microsoft Bing is now on a par with Google in terms of shopping search capabilities.
Google vs Bing – Voice search
A growing area for all search engines is voice search. Around 57% of homes in the UK now contain a smart device such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Alexa currently leads the market with a 70% share.
One of the most used features of the smart speakers of these brands is voice search. Interestingly, Amazon Alexa uses Microsoft Bing as a search engine, whereas Google Nest obviously uses Google.
An estimated 50% of people now use voice search to research products. So when optimising for voice search, you need to ensure that you are going to be picked up by devices using both Google and Microsoft Bing. But be aware that most smart speaker users will currently be getting search results from Microsoft Bing.
Our article Is Voice Search the Future? contains tips about how to optimise your site for voice search.
Google vs Bing – Other data
One last factor to mention is the varying use that Google and Microsoft Bing make of other data.
When processing a search request, Google’s algorithms take into account a user’s previous search history and also their location. The search results it generates are therefore likely to be personalised to that user, and more relevant. It takes into account the bigger picture of that searcher.
From a site owner’s point of view, Microsoft Bing is open about the fact it incorporates social signals into its search algorithm. So if you are sharing content on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, this content may begin to rank better on Microsoft Bing because its search algorithm will pick up these social signals.
So when optimising your site for either search engine, be aware of other data that will be used in the results returned to the searcher.
So which is better? Google or Bing ?
From a searcher’s point of view, both Google and Microsoft Bing do the job. But, as we have seen above, each search engine has particular strengths and ways of doing things that you may want to tap into.
Also be aware of the differing demographic for both search engines. Google users tend to be younger and spend a lot of time browsing, whereas most Microsoft Bing users are 35+ years old, with many aged between 55 and 64 years. This may be a result of Microsoft Bing being automatically available on every Microsoft device.
So if you have a particular audience that you are trying to attract, you may want to prioritise optimising for one search engine rather than the other.
But the best thing to do would be to optimise for both search engines wherever possible. Play to the strengths of both.
A key feature for both search engines is content. High-quality content that reflects the needs and interests of your targeted audience will fare well in both search engines. And your audience will enjoy it, engage with it, and share it.
Google prioritises EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness,Trustworthiness) and backlinks, and Microsoft Bing is more focused on on-page optimisation and picking up social signals. But these elements are not mutually exclusive: you can do all these things and be confident that you are setting yourself up for good results on both search engines.
This is well worth doing. Both search engines give you the opportunity to reach millions of new users who are looking for the kinds of products and services that you offer. Using both Google and Microsoft Bing could therefore be the winning combination you need to grow your business.