The news media bargaining code negotiations are in full swing and Google has let Australia know that they will withdraw search from the market if the code is passed in its current state. The new code will force Google to pay premium news publishers for content and share algorithm updates 14 days in advance, setting a number of unfavourable precedents for the tech giant globally.
If Google search were to leave, Australians would be forced to use an alternative search engine and marketers will need to adapt. The exit could also affect Google My Business, Google Maps, Google Home, and Google ads as they rely on the search function.
While it’s more likely that Google and the federal government will reach a resolution, Bing would be the next best alternative to Google, as it holds the second-highest market share in Australia (3.74% vs Google’s 94.37%).
The next sitting of parliament is the 15th of February, so the exit could occur as early as mid-February. That’s why we’re already thinking about the possibility of a Bing-first search market and how we would need to adapt.
Well.. regardless of the outcome, Bing does have the second-highest search market share and could actually enhance your brand’s visibility with a new set of valuable customers.
Bing Prioritises Domain Age.
Bing has different priorities to Google and views domain age as a strong indicator of trust. That’s why it tends to prioritise ‘old’ content.
This is in complete contrast to Google, which seeks out ‘fresh’ content. This would mean that large scale content updates that can boost Google rankings, may actually force your Bing rankings further down the search results page.
Bing Considers Social Media Signals.
Social signals are not heavily considered by Google, but are beneficial for your marketing strategy as a whole. Luckily, Bing uses social shares and influence to understand if a page is popular.
It also incorporates social media features in their search results pages. This includes showing how a user’s Facebook and Twitter network rates different businesses. So, a strong social media strategy can also help to grow your organic search presence in Bing.
Bing Values On-Page Relevance.
Given the volume of searches it receives, Google has developed an extremely sophisticated search algorithm that accounts for the nuances of natural human language when understanding search intent. However, optimising for Bing could see you using ‘old SEO tactics’ that worked on Google upwards of five years ago.
This would include exact match keywords in domain names, headings, metadata and on page content (aka keyword stuffing). While Google now sees keyword stuffing as a negative indicator, Bing requires high keyword density to rank a page effectively.
Do you want to revert your copywriting practices back to writing awkward copy so that your content and copy will rank and outpace your competitors copy?
People have higher expectations of content regardless, and user experience still needs to come first, otherwise you run the risk of damaging your brand.
It’s also likely that Bing’s algorithm would advance as more people start using the search engine, so don’t send your content strategy backwards.
The good news is that Bing likes lengthy content with high word counts and multimedia elements. So, enriching your on-page content is a good optimisation strategy for both Google and Bing.
Bing Favours Local Pages.
Bing typically returns results that are locally optimised and prioritises ccTLD (aka. “.au”) domains in Australia. It also seems to search for references to the user’s location and considers this more closely than Google. Location pages with unique area-specific content are a bonus in Bing’s eyes and you should assess your website’s domain structure from an international targeting perspective.
All things said, don’t put the cart before the horse.
As we mentioned, we still don’t know if Google search will actually leave Australia.
The last thing you want to do is stop refreshing your content in the fear of hindering domain age or reverting back to keyword stuffing.
But, could you start boosting your brands social signals, adding multimedia to your website, and enhancing your local presence either way? Absolutely!
If this situation has taught us anything, it’s to not put all of our eggs in one basket. If you can adopt a balanced and resilient marketing strategy that sees you excelling across a variety of search engines, then do it!
Taking a wider lens view, if your brand can only be found in search then you might also have a bigger issue. Being discoverable in search is great (don’t we know it), but the internet is also a space to build memorable brands. Being both discoverable and known truly requires a cross-channel effort.