The English-speaking world’s third largest search offering, Bing is the primary engine for a little less than 8% of the population. Google unsurprisingly accounts for roughly 80%, while Yahoo (now handled by Bing internally) holds steady at 10%, and the remaining 2% is taken up by engines like the Russian Yandex, DuckDuckGo, Aol, Ask and China’s Baidu.
But what does this mean for local businesses? While there is no doubt that Google My Business is a powerful tool – and a crucial element of ranking for local search – is there any value in Bing’s Places for Business equivalent?
First of all, it’s worth clarifying that while Yahoo does use Bing to manage its search function, Places for Business is not included. Instead, Yahoo pulls data from Yelp to display reviews as part of its Google-like results panel.
This means that Bing Places for Business really does only have an 8% share of the market, as opposed to the 18% slice that would include Yahoo’s traffic. That said, there are still some advantages compared to Google My Business.
First of all, support – especially over Twitter – is infinitely better. Google has for some time been cutting its live support over the phone, and email support is also similarly poor. That has led to Twitter being the primary point of contact to fix My Business issues. In our experience, responses typically take at least three to five days.
Compared to this, Bing Places is much, much quicker, and – anecdotally – more helpful. That definitely counts for something.
Meanwhile, Bing’s history as Microsoft’s ill-fated attempt to corner the search engine market is well-known, but it is also seeing a something of a resurgence, in part due to its mandatory presence on some new technologies, particularly Amazon’s Echo/Alexa. This could of course change, but it is an interesting development nonetheless.
Still, this could be offset by the fact that Bing Local has the disadvantage of most mobile phones using Google’s search by default, both in the Android browser and in many cases IOS. As mobile devices become much more prominent in local search, this means that Bing’s appeal in this field will lessen further.
Optimising for Bing local search
Bing Places, like Google My Business, has a significant impact on local search results. However there are some more general things to bear in mind.
Bing has much lower competition and a more conversion-prone user base in many places, making it perfect for small, specific campaigns aimed at particular groups of customers. Some claim that Bing might have a lower bounce rate than Google as well, meaning that visitors might view more pages and click more links.
Overall though, be aware that in general Bing favours older websites and Pinterest/Twitter friendly sites. Indexing can be a lot poorer than Google too – so make your main page count.
Bing also employs a less sophisticated search algorithm than Google, meaning that it’s a bit like optimising for the Google you remember from three years ago. Bing has less of Google’s capacity to read nuance or substitute non-matching keywords, which means that exact match URLs are much more important. This exactness continues in other elements such as H1 and H2 tags. Keyword optimisation is key, essentially.
So, in summary Bing’s Places for Business can be worth the effort, especially if you have an aged site in a very specific field. It’s not going to overtake Google any time soon, which will not come as a shock, but as part of a broader strategy it has its own small place.