In the world of search engines, Google is the undisputed big kid on campus, boasting 89% of searches in North America. So it can be easy to forget about other search engines like Bing (the default search engine on Microsoft products and Amazon Kindles) and DuckDuckGo (the privacy-focused “search engine that doesn’t track you”). But don’t let the small numbers fool you.
DuckDuckGo boasted over 1 billion searches in January 2019, while Bing earns 12 billion searches globally per month. While it might be tempting to ignore these Davids to Google’s Goliath, we would urge you to think again.
Assuming your site is already optimized for search with Google, with some small simple changes, you can be a Bing & DDG superstar as well. By optimizing for multiple platforms, you will ensure your business reaches a larger audience and gains their trust, and will continue to rank well if Google changes its algorithm.
Who uses Bing? The majority of Bing users are:
- Age 45-54 (20%) and age 55+ (34%)
- 50% are female
- 38% have a household income of 100,000 USD or more
- 33% have a Bachelor’s degree
- Generally less tech-savvy than their Google-favoring counterparts
Spell it out – Keywords
Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update meant that site owners no longer needed to include exact keywords, as the algorithm instead intelligently finds pages based on context, synonyms, and human speech patterns. Bing, however, likes a more old-school straightforward approach, stating they prefer you use the keyword/phrase you are targeting a few times, with some variations as well. So be sure to include exact, targeted keywords in meta tags, header tags, and your copy.
Let them help you – Webmaster tools
Similar to Google’s Search Console, Bing has a free service called Bing Webmaster Tools, which offers a variety of services including SEO analysis, Page Traffic Report, a Mobile Friendliness Tool, and an area to submit sitemaps. It can be useful to compare the two resources; you can identify if your SEO issues are Google-specific, or affecting you across multiple engines (Bing shows Yahoo data as well). Webmasters Tools also includes a keyword research tool that is the only tool that is based on organic keyword data. Bing’s site security tool is also useful to help find any security risks missed by Google.
Backlinks bode clicks
Both Google and Bing love quality backlinks – other people’s sites that link to yours. If these sites are from trustworthy sources, like sites that end in .edu, .org, and .gov domains, so much the better, especially for Bing. Domain age is more important to Bing than Google – the older the site that’s linking to yours, the better. Be aware that the same spammy tricks that will get you in trouble with Google still apply here – practices like link buying, link spamming, and link manipulation.
It’s a popularity contest
While Google does not use social metrics as a direct ranking factor, Bing pays close attention. Particularly, it looks at your number of followers, assuming they will be sharing your content. Highly shared content imparts trust which “results in Bing seeing these positive signals”. Bing likes to see a higher ratio of followers than those you follow, as they consider this to indicate a stronger influential voice. Another feature for users is they can see if any of their friends or followers have rated or recommended your company or product.
Content is Queen
Bing likes to find answers and it likes to find them fast, so ensure that your content is clear (to the point), rich (lots of information), and easy to find (well organized). Don’t overstuff your webpage with ads, Bing views this as untrustworthy and will penalize you. Bing can read Flash content (
Google can now index text content in Flash files Google has since announced it will no longer support Flash) and prefers content with videos and images – be sure to add alt description tags.
Created in 2008, DuckDuckGo’s main principle is that of user privacy. It does not track its users, so it’s difficult to gather data about exact age, ethnicity, and gender demographics. Based on their traffic, we can infer:
- Majority of users are located in the United States (37.7%), followed by Germany (10.2%)
- Users have an affinity for tech and tech news sites, with some of the most common searches being Github.com (software sharing), Whitehatsec.com (e-security), YCombinator.com (start-up sponsor).
Hit up other search engines
While it may seem counter intuitive, one of the best ways to rank in DDG is to submit your site to other search engines. DuckDuckGo is a hybrid search engine, meaning that it both crawls your site (with their custom crawler DuckDuckBot) and pulls from over 400 existing directories, such as Wikipedia, Oath (formerly Yahoo), Yandex, and Bing. How-to and tips for submitting your site to Google and Bing here.
Bang! – Add your own
Bangs are DDG shortcuts that take you immediately to your desired site when entered into the search bar (!twitter, !ebay, !reddit). Major players have shortened bangs, such as !g for Google, !yt for Youtube, !a for Amazon. Bangs can include your search query as well, eliminating the need to enter it once on-page. If searching for hats on Amazon, for example, you could “!a hats”. Looking up SEO on Wikipedia would be “!w seo”. You can submit your site’s own bang here.
Because DuckDuckGo does not track its users, it does not automatically know where they are located. It uses Geo::IP to estimate locations using IP addresses, meaning users have to state exactly where they are if they want personalized results. It is important to include specific location information in your copy and meta tags, including any colloquial or abbreviated terms that may be unique to your neighborhood. It’s also a good idea to include any major streets or intersections, any nearby landmarks, or any other terms users may use to specify where they are. Pay attention to spelling, because DDG places emphasis on not autocorrecting its users’ queries.
Access Instant Answers
Like Google, DuckDuckGo has an Instant Answer feature that delivers results right into the SERP. You can increase your content’s chances of appearing in Instant Answers by JSON-LD schema markup to your site. This is a good idea to optimize for all search engines, so it’s definitely worth the effort. Both Google and Bing offer tools to verify the structured data you’ve added to your page. If you specialize in a niche industry, you could also add to the growing list of DuckDuckGo’s Instant Answer forum. Topics include everything, from crafts to coding. Here you can create your own Instant Answer, including your site as the data source, which may drive people to your site as they look to learn more.
Keeping it in perspective
While it is wise to optimize for multiple different search engines, be sure not to run afoul of Google’s preferences. Just because Bing likes Flash does not mean you should build your site using it, as Flash no longer works on most mobile browsers (something Google ranks very highly). Search engine optimization can be very confusing, which is why we’re here to help. If you ever need a hand with your SEO, please feel free to get in touch.