With the update of the guidelines, the search engine provides information on relevant ranking factors and makes it clear which aspects are taken into account for the ranking in contrast to Google.
At the end of June, Bing, the most relevant search engine in the world after Google, published a renewed version of its own webmaster guidelines. This gives webmasters and SEOs more information about how the rankings in the SERPs of the Microsoft search engine come about. Support for new attributes is listed, while it becomes clear that – unlike Google – Bing explicitly includes moments such as authorship and user engagement metrics in the ranking.
New webmaster guidelines at Bing: more insight for SEOs
Bing is the clear number two behind Google, the undisputed world market leader in search engines. This is little compared to Google, compared to the competition from Ecosia (0.8 percent) or DuckDuckGo – which are also increasingly promoting their search engine (0.65 percent).
At the end of June, Bing now said that its webmaster guidelines had been revised in order to clarify the rankings. For example, the Head of Evangelism responsible for Bing in the Microsoft Advertising area, Christi Olson , announced via Twitter:
We (myself, @BingWMC, @CoperniX, @facan) received some questions about rel=sponsored/ugc. We have been and are continuing to monitoring it as a signal. Right now, it’s not as strong or important of a signal – but that can change based on adoption and usage. https://t.co/lZR05knahR
— Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson) July 1, 2020
Ranking signals and examples of problematic content
The guidelines should not open up unimagined truths to webmasters and SEOs. First, basics are emphasized, the relevance of sitemaps for discoverability, of current URLs and relevant links.
Bing recommends that all pages on a site are linked to at least one other discoverable and crawlable page,
it says there. Bing also suggests minimizing the number of pages on a website, setting up meaningful redirects, or allowing Bing to crawl more using the Crawl Control feature . But all these tips, including the reference to the use of robots.txt or canonical tags, the emphasis on creating enough content and enriching it with pictures and videos, are not new to most webmasters.
The specific ranking factors that Bing lists are likely to be exciting for them. Six factors are listed, starting with the most important one according to Bing.
The six most relevant ranking factors at Bing
The ranking factors listed by Bing are the following, here in translation:
- Relevance : The relevance relates to how exactly the content of the landing page matches the intent behind the search queries. This includes matching terms directly on the page, as well as terms used in links that point to the page. Bing also considers semantic equivalents, including synonyms or abbreviations, that may not exactly match the query terms, but have the same meaning.
- Quality and credibility : The determination of the quality and credibility of a website includes an assessment of the page itself, including factors such as the reputation of the author or the website, the level of discourse (for example, an article with citations and references to data sources is considered to be of higher quality than one Article that doesn’t explain what sources quotes come from; Bing may downgrade content that uses insults, insulting statements, or derogatory language to highlight a point), the completeness of the content, and the authorship transparency.
- User engagement : Bing also takes into account how users interact with search results. To determine user engagement, Bing asks questions such as: Did users click through to search for results for a particular query, and if so, what results? Did users spend time on those search results they clicked on, or did they quickly return to Bing? Has the user adapted or reformulated his request? The Bing Webmaster Dashboard provides insight into how users interact with websites.
- Topicality : In general, Bing prefers content that is “fresher”. This means that the page always contains current information. In many cases, content produced today will still be relevant in years to come. In some cases, however, the content produced today is quickly out of date.
- Location : In the ranking results, Bing takes into account where the user is located (country and city), where the page is hosted, the language of the document or the location of other visitors to the page.
- Page load time : Slow page load times can cause a visitor to leave the website, possibly before the content has even been loaded to look for information elsewhere. Bing can see this as a poor user experience and an unsatisfactory search result. Faster page loading is always better, but webmasters should balance absolute page loading speed with a positive, useful user experience.
It is particularly striking that Bing clearly names the moments of authorship and user engagement metrics as ranking factors, while Google, according to SEO expert Barry Schwartz, does not actively count them among its own factors .
However, these aspects are part of a good EAT (expertise, authoritative, trustworthiness) optimization for your own content. In SEO, these points should therefore be focused either way.
— Lily Ray 😏 (@lilyraynyc) June 30, 2020
What Bing advises to avoid
In addition to the relevant ranking factors, Bing also lists examples of misleading practices in the updated webmaster guidelines that can negatively influence the ranking or even lead to penalties. So it says:
Sites which engage in abuse such as the practices outlined below are considered to be low quality. As a result, these sites can incur ranking penalties, have site markup ignored, and may not be selected for indexation. These Bing Webmaster Guidelines describe only some of the most widespread forms of inappropriate, manipulative or misleading behaviors. Microsoft may take action against your site for any inappropriate or deceptive practices, even those not described here.
Practices that webmasters should not consider include:
- Cloaking (the presentation of two different pages for crawlers and users under the same URL)
- Link schemes, link buying, link spamming
- Social media schemes (e.g. automated follow settings)
- Duplicate content
- Scraped content
- Keyword stuffing (or lots of irrelevant keywords on pages)
- Automatically generated content
- Affiliate programs and links with no added value for the content (thin affiliation)
- Malicious behavior when creating content
- Misleading markup about structured data
If you want to improve your ranking not only on Google, but also on the still relevant search engine Bing, you should carefully study the current webmaster guidelines. You can fully understand them on the Bing Webmaster Blog . Basically, the same requirements apply to Google, Bing and most other search engines: The most up-to-date, relevant and high-quality content has good cards to land at the top of the SERPs. How this is not only created, but also optimized in such a way that it helps the publishing website to achieve strong rankings, is usually based on the webmaster guidelines or SEO tips – for example on the right markup- evident. And regardless of this, search engine advertising is often suitable as a supporting measure.