Search is a rapidly changing space, and you need to focus your digital marketing efforts where they’ll have the greatest impact. For most brands, that means thinking “Google first” when it comes to their search strategy. The undisputed market leader, Google had a search engine market share of over 86% worldwide in December 2021 while Microsoft’s Bing accounted for about 7%.
However, when it comes to local search, it’s essential that brands understand every place local consumers are searching for products and services nearby. It might surprise you to learn that Bing handled one-quarter of all search queries in the United States in June 2021, thanks to its agreements with Yahoo and other search partners to serve results to their users.
If you aren’t optimizing for Bing, your U.S. locations could be missing out on a sizable reach of the local search market.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how Google and Bing differ, the benefits of optimizing for Bing search and using Bing Ads, and how your brand can incorporate Bing SEO into its local search strategy.
The Main Differences Between Google and Bing
Google offers a more robust set of core features with some search features that Bing doesn’t offer, including Flights, Books, Finance, and Scholar searches.
In terms of the sheer size of each one’s index, Google says it contains hundreds of billions of web pages and is “well over” 100,000,000 gigabytes in size.
“When Bing crawls and indexes pages on the Internet, it has to make decisions about which pages will most likely resonate with searchers. Given the virtually infinite size of the Web, not all pages will end up being selected.”
Now, Google doesn’t necessarily index every page it crawls, either. But it does seem to index a far larger amount of the web than Bing, judging by the figures available to us. (More on how to make sure your pages are indexed in a minute.)
Both Google and Bing rely on advertising revenue, and both had a really good year in 2021, with earnings statements in October indicating more than 40% growth for each one:
- Google’s year-over-year ad revenue grew by 43% to $37,095 billion.
- Bing’s search and news advertising revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs increased 40%.
Both Google’s parent company Alphabet and Bing’s parent Microsoft has a range of other income sources, some of them incredibly lucrative. Alphabet also socks revenue into its coffers from Google Cloud, YouTube Ads, and the Google Network; even so, advertising accounts for over 80% of Alphabet’s earnings. Learn more about how Google makes money here.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has Bing Ads, its Microsoft 365 business, LinkedIn and its Marketing Solutions, Azure, Windows OEM, and more. In terms of market cap, Microsoft is the second-largest company in the world at $2.21 trillion. Google is no slouch and sits in the fourth position at $1.8 trillion.
Bing Offers Big Benefits for Local Search Optimization
Why would you choose one over the other? In reality, your best play is probably to have both Google and Bing inside your local search strategy, and here’s why.
Key Bing Search Advertising Benefits
- Bing’s lower traffic volume means less competition and that can translate to lower costs per click for advertisers using Bing Ads. One study by ReportGarden found that the average CPC for Bing Ads was $7.99 whereas it was $20.08 for Google Ads.
- According to comScore, the Microsoft Search Network audience spends 26% more online when shopping from their desktop computers than average internet searchers (as of September 2021).
- Bing search demographics show that it attracts a slightly older, better educated, higher household income audience than Google.
- Bing Ads offers richer filters for ad targeting, enabling advertisers to use age filters or information from users’ LinkedIn profiles, for example. You can use demographic targeting on the Google Display Network but not the search network. Bing Ads allows for demographic targeting at the ad group or campaign level.
- Bing Ads have a 34% higher click-through rate than Google Ads, according to data from Blue Corona.
- Bing Ads still allows for close variant matching so you can target spelling errors, plural vs. singular keywords, etc. Google Ads has retired this targeting option.
- Bing Ads makes it easy to import your Google Ads campaigns into its platforms so you don’t have to start from scratch when you add Bing Ads to your arsenal.
Benefits of Bing’s Image & Video Search Capabilities
One of its best-known advantages is Bing’s Image Search, which incorporates high-quality, visually stunning images into search results pages. Searchers can filter by layout and access other filters that, while they exist on Google, are a lot easier to find on Bing.
One unique benefit of Bing’s video search results is that they can be played without clicking through and leaving the SERP. This is a feature that Google currently lacks.
Brands in verticals where images and video present more opportunities to connect – think travel, real estate, hospitality, restaurants, and retail – may find Bing a lucrative channel for attracting new customers via visual and video search results.
Bing Places vs. Google Business Profile
Both Google and Bing each offer local businesses an enhanced profile that can appear in both organic and local search results.
Both Bing Places and Google Business Profile enable businesses to claim, verify, and optimize a listing for each location. Consider this listing your storefront in local search. This is how local searchers will find essential information such as the location’s:
- NAP (name, address, and phone number)
- Website or local page web address
- Hours of operation
- Local reviews
Using other fields and features available to you can help the location rank higher in search on each platform. Choosing the right primary category, for example, is essential. Using high-quality photos that accurately depict the experience local consumers can expect to have at that location can be an important conversion element and also increase visibility in local search results.
Despite their similar purposes and outward appearance, there are some differences between your Bing Places and Google Business Profile listings.
Key Differences Between Bing Places & Google Business Profile
Google Search results for [San Diego florist] with Allen’s Flower’s & Plants selected.
Bing results for [San Diego florist] with Allen’s Flower’s & Plants selected.
- Again, we see Bing’s emphasis on imagery in its Places capabilities and layout, which is far more visually appealing. Bing requires a minimum resolution of 480×360 pixels for Places photos, compared to Google’s requirement of 250x250px. And while Google only allows photos of up to 5MB in size, Bing will allow 10MB images. Your business photos on Bing can be of higher resolution and better quality.
- Bing makes it easy to import your existing business location listings from Google Business Profiles so you don’t have to start over. Google does not offer this from Bing.
- Google displays local reviews from its own platform. Bing compiles reviews from multiple sources including Foursquare, Yelp, YellowPages, Birdeye, and more.
There are a few subtle but potentially impactful differences in Google and Bing’s local search ranking algorithms, as well.
- Bing says its local ranking algorithm is primarily based on relevance, distance, and popularity.
- Google determines local ranking based on relevance, distance, and prominence.
- Relevance means the same thing to both engines, although each has its own methods of measuring relevance.
- Both use their understanding of how far the searcher is from any given location as a ranking factor.
When it comes to Bing’s perception of “popularity” and Google’s “prominence,” here’s what each has to say:
“Popularity refers to the popularity of a business. Bing looks at the ‘web signals’ to estimate the popularity of a business. Business listings that have more positive reviews and ratings in popular sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are deemed more popular. The more a business is mentioned across the web, the higher its popularity.”
“Prominence refers to how well known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands are also likely to be prominent in local search results.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.”
Interestingly, Google mentions your organic ranking as a Prominence signal. But for Bing, this is part of its understanding of Relevance:
“Relevance refers to whether a business listing matches what a user is searching for. Adding detailed business information in Bing places helps the Local ranking algorithm to accurately match your business listing to user searches. Website SEO also plays an important role in determining local ranking.”
Google also seems to take more real-world prominence factors into consideration while Bing emphasizes the importance of the volume of citations from across the web.
The Bottom Line: Bing Belongs In Your Local Search Strategy
To sum up what we hope you take away from this look at the differences and similarities between Google and Bing for local SEO:
- Bing offers a sizable audience of searchers you won’t reach through Google via its partners and network.
- Bing’s search audience tends to be older, have more disposable income, and better educated, and spend more shopping online.
- Bing offers brands with high-quality imagery and videos greater visibility in local and organic search results.
- Bing Ads can be lower cost, win more clicks, and offer more granular targeting options.
- Bing Ads and Places makes it easy to import your ad campaigns and Google Business Profile data, even for enterprise and multi-location businesses.
Your brand needs to maximize every possible opportunity to edge out competitors when and where local consumers are searching for products and services like yours. Optimizing for Bing is an essential part of that digital marketing goal, and it doesn’t have to mean starting over from scratch on an entirely different network, either.
You can also download your free copy of “Optimizing Your Local Presence Across Top Search Engines & Engagement Platforms” today to learn how to optimize your business’ presence on other impactful search engines, social networks, and review platforms.