A Quick Start Guide and Checklist for Bing Search Engine Optimization

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]

Bing isn’t the top search engine used by searchers but it still is a powerful tool for driving traffic to your blog and most likely you’ve got a good percentage of organic traffic coming from Microsoft’s Bing – enough to warrant a bit of time learning more about it and how you can maximize some returns.

And the reasons are only getting stronger: If you add up Bing and Yahoo! search queries you might get an accurate picture of what the future looks like for your blog and it’s traffic from Bing since Yahoo!’s search engine is going to be powered by Bing (and co-branded with “Powered by Bing”) starting in early 2012:

Microsoft’s Bing search engine will power the Yahoo website and Yahoo will in turn become the advertising sales team for Microsoft’s online offering.

That’s worth noting – that’s worth mentioning and studying a bit, right? And even without a Yahoo! + Bing partnership it’s been shown that Bing’s marketshare is increasing year over year growing nearly 7% from 23.64% to 30% from 2010 to 2011!

Some people have suggested that at some point the possibility of Bing overtaking Google’s marketshare is possible:

Possible? Likely?

Now I’m not sure if it’s really going to happen but it’s worth my time (and yours) to understand at least the basics of Bing-related SEO strategies, right?

And, of course, we all get traffic via Bing already so it’s also worth it to optimize and maximize if possible:

I'll take any and all traffic, right?

So here are a few suggestions that are relevant to not only search engine optimization for Bing but also most other search engines as well.

Bing breaks it down into 5 main areas: Crawlability, Site Structure, On-Page SEO, Content, and Links:

Your Blog’s Crawlability:

  • XML Sitemaps – Make sure to have one! You can create one here if you have WordPress.
  • Navigation Structure – Make sure it’s easily accessed by crawlers. Learn more about site architecture here and here as well.
  • Limit Adobe Flash – Read more about SEO limitations here.
  • Limit JavaScript – Read more about SEO limitations here.
  • Limit Ajax – Read more about SEO limitations here.
  • Rich Media – If you do use rich media make sure that the user experience is clean and has a down-level experience and flow to it.
  • Keywords – Use clean and keyword rich URL structure. Permalinks and blog post slugs can help.
  • Robots.txt – Make sure you have one!

Your Blog’s Site Structure:

  • Logical Hiearchy – Make sure your content is laid out logically and with a focus on usability.
  • Internal Linking – Make sure your content has a great internal linking. Become a master architect!
  • Clean URLs – Make sure that your links have no extraneous parameters where possible. Examples are adding sessions, tracking, and other calls on the links when not necessary.
  • Sitemaps – Make sure you have sitemaps for both humans and search engines!
  • Rich Media – Make sure they don’t block links or cover up links. See SEO limitations as well here.

Your Blog’s On-Page SEO:

  • Good Titles – Should be unique relevant and between 60 and 70 characters in length. Read this kick-butt post on how to optimize your titles! Only one title per page please!
  • Meta Descriptions – Make sure they are unique, relevant, and 160 characters or less. You can learn all you want about meta descriptions and meta elements here. Only one description per page as well here!
  • Content Tags – Make sure you have the right content tags (H1, H2, etc) in your content. Learn more here.
  • Images – Make sure you are using images well and wisely with ALT tags as appropriate and descriptions with keywords. Learn about images here.
  • Keyword Targeting – Make sure you use targeted keywords for each blog post and piece of content.
  • Internal Linking – Make sure the links have the right anchor text.

Your Blog Content:

  • Keyword Research – This is so important that I dedicated an entire blog post to it! Learn more about keyword research.
  • Usability – Make sure your content is usable and is built for people, not search engines!
  • Design – Design is so important and even more important now for SEO.
  • Copy – Written copy is your ultimate weapon of choice when it comes to creating an attractive blog for search engines.
  • Architecture Depth – Make sure you create deep and content-rich pages.
  • Authority – Create amazing blog content and you’ll be seen as an authority via the search engines. Your level of authenticity helps with this as well
  • Consistency – Create a schedule and have the discipline to produce new content frequently.
  • Unique – Make sure your content is unique and not re-blogged or re-used from other sources.
  • Broken Links – Make sure you’ve captured any 404 errors, broken links, and internal 301 redirects. Have a useful 404 page as well.
  • Canonicalization – Make sure you understand the power and importance of the Canonical tag.

Your Blog’s Links and Link Structure:

  • Links – This is one of your top ingredients for optimizing your blog. Become a master link architect! Internal and external linking strategies!
  • Linking – Make sure your optimizing your links for SEO.
  • Viral Content – Make sure you know which types of blog posts often get a lot of viral traffic!
  • Paid Links – Stay away from paid links. Period.

Whew! Hopefully that gives you a good run-down of how Bing interprets your blog in terms of search engine optimization and what you can do to improve!

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]