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Bing SEM: Doing Yahoo & Bing Search Marketing

Bing SEM: Doing Yahoo & Bing Search Marketing

Bing SEM is a growing and tempting option for getting a wider reaching digital marketing strategy.

Microsoft’s Bing has done more than any other search engine provider to cut into Google’s dominance and now has close to 1 billion monthly searchers, making Bing marketing a justifiable option for businesses that want to stretch their online opportunities as much as they can.

When talking about Bing marketing, it’s important to mention that Yahoo also sources it’s results from Bing – meaning they are essentially the same search engine (plus AOL and MSN). In the U.S. Bing has as much as 6.4% of the of the total search market share, and Yahoo has as much 3%. Together they represent 1/10th of search engine traffic in the U.S. meaning that a AOL/Yahoo/Bing search marketing strategy could be a big opportunity for businesses and brands that are looking for extra.

So what are the options for search engine marketing on Bing?

Bing SEM offers not just organic traffic through search, but also ads that run on the same model as the pay-per-click ads offered by Google.

Plus it offers a huge range of more niche marketing options including dynamics search ads, Bing Shopping campaigns, display-ads, maps, smart campaigns, and more. A complete Yahoo/Bing search marketing strategy can involve some or all of these avenues – or it can include hiring a professional agency that specializes in Bing SEM.

Here’s how all that works exactly.

Bing organic search marketing

The main element of Bing marketing is SEO-based organic traffic. If you want traffic from their primary search engine, you’ll want to do SEO on your site just like you would for Google.

Fortunately search optimization is very similar across both search engines since Bing’s ranking factors are largely (though not completely) the same as Google’s. This means businesses ­that are already using a complete on-page SEO strategy will be in a good position to perform well on both Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Why is on-page SEO important exactly? More than half of all website traffic comes from search engines like Google or Bing, and close to 40% of all online revenue comes from search traffic as well. SEO’s return on investment is the strongest of any digital marketing strategy!

Google and Bing/Yahoo use largely the same ranking factors but handle those factors differently – that means at least that the same SEO campaign strategies work for both. For Bing search marketing, domain-authority is a stronger element than on Google (Bing favors TLDs like .edu and .gov too), Bing is able to crawl/index Flash content unlike Google, and it might actually pay attention to “meta keyword tags” (Google does not).

Organic Yahoo/Bing search marketing should focus on these strategies:

  • Optimizing HTML title tags, meta descriptions, and content with high-value SEO focused keywords, which are used by algorithms to understand and rank pages.
  • Keyword density and optimized content marketing for algorithmic performance.
  • Natural backlink growth and anchor-text optimization (ATLs) since Bing SEO is still heavily based on “page-authority” passed through links.
  • Technical site optimization like mobile friendliness, site speed, navigation, crawlable JavaScript.

SEO in general is a complex topic, and with hundreds of algorithmic factors to pay attention to. But it’s a worthwhile strategy to explore, since being able to adjust and optimize all these elements is one of the best ways of doing search engine marketing.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Microsoft also gives website owners a free SEO tool for Bing SEM called Webmaster Tools.

The Webmaster Tools platform let’s businesses check the health of their website in Bing’s search results with information direct from Microsoft on indexing status, crawling issues, reports on traffic data, etc. Websites/businesses can also submit a sitemap to Webmaster Tools which will help Bingbot find and index all of their important site pages/content/products.

All that’s needed is to create a Bing Webmaster Tools account (using a Microsoft, Google or Facebook account), connect the platform to the website/domain, and then verify the site.

The “reports & data” section of Webmaster Tools is important for Bing marketing and SEM since it gives important metrics and information on search marketing KPIs like:

  • Clicks the website receives in search results
  • Impressions a site (or site’s pages) receive
  • The number of pages crawled
  • Crawl errors and issues
  • Total pages indexed and eligible to be shown in search

Bing search ads

The next most important part of Bing SEM involved bolstering organic traffic with paid-search ads. These are ads that appear at the top of search results pages and that look similar to just regular results. Businesses bid on search keywords for a chance to have their listing appear in the top few spots for those results.

SEM, or search engine management is a style of digital marketing that involves both SEO and paid ads, which means that a Bing SEM campaign involves taking advantage of both of these channels. Combining efforts here can help websites get the most out of this marketing strategy, since doing both SEO and PPC at the same time means targeting the same keywords for both channels, improving click-through-rate (CTR) overall, and even possibly improving the ROI from SEO.

So what’s the difference between Bing ads and Google ads? They operate largely using the same model where advertisers place bids on certain search terms, then the algorithm determines their relevancy using a “quality score” and finally the advertiser pays their bid amount every time a searcher clicks on their ad (thus “pay-per-click” or PPC). Basically they’re very similar.

So why utilize a Bing ads SEM strategy? Because PPC is important for business growth as one of the most common, most successful, and most effective digital marketing strategies there is! A fifth of marketers claim PPC offers them the highest ROI, and its CTR is even about 50% higher than on Google.

Are Bing ads worth it? The short answer is Yes! Search ads in general are a great strategy for not just growing revenue in general, but doing so quickly, and visitors from ads are about 1.5X more likely to convert than those from organic results.

Bing SEM with search advertising offers businesses:

  • Nearly immediate results with conversions and sales revenue practically as soon as ads are live.
  • The ability to target specific, high-value search words as well as to set-up ads for certain days and locations.
  • Valuable data on impressions, return-on-ad-spend, cost-per-conversion, daily budget and more. The big benefit of PPC is that marketers have almost complete control.
  • Shopping campaigns for product retail in search.
  • Greater impressions and top-of-the-page presence for brand growth and greater traffic.
  • Custom selected goals for traffic, target revenue, lead generation, downloads, and more.

Bing’s Keyword Research Tool is similar to Google’s but provides keyword information in groups or in “Ad groups”. It also gives detailed keyword information on estimated clicks, impressions, cost, CTR, average cost-per-click (CPC), and more.

Businesses can use these details to gauge the competitiveness and viability of valuable search traffic for their brand.

This is core to Bing marketing in general: being able to target and achieve traffic for a wide range of keywords that matter to your business, as well as to match with what you offer searchers.

Bing let’s businesses target audiences based on their device type and OS, as well as to assign different campaigns for different time zones. They also have options to not display campaign ads on desktops if marketers only want to reach mobile users.

Here are all of the types of advertisement styles available specifically for Bing ads SEM:

  • Expanded text ads with an ad title, ad text, a “display URL” and the final URL for the destination landing page. These are the most common style of ad.
  • Dynamic search ads. These look like expanded text ads but are automatically created and targeted by Bing.
  • Product ads for Shopping.
  • Responsive Search Ads for A/B testing of different custom ad elements.

Bing Shopping results

The “Shopping” feature is a newer but rapidly growing area of Bing’s marketing options. It acts as an eCommerce marketplace hub with detailed product listings and browsing options that let users shop for products directly in search results.

Bing shopping search page

They consist of “product ads” that show in search results and in the Shopping tab, and they include product photos, price, manufacturer/brand and more.

Shoppers can also sort and filter results like they often can on other eCommerce marketplaces.

These products ads are set up through Bing “Shopping Campaigns” and have to be set up using a Microsoft Merchant Center (MMC) account that includes product catalogs and imported product specs. Businesses need to import this information into their account, to create a “catalog” but these details are important since they are key to reducing the barriers to conversion and to improving both CTR and conversion rate.

This works the same way it does on Google Shopping, in fact for businesses doing both Google and Bing SEM, there’s a process for importing campaigns directly from Google Ads!

Bing smart campaigns

Microsoft also offers “Smart campaigns” options which allow businesses to spend less time monitoring and managing ad settings. In this situation marketers create/set-up the ads and then Microsoft’s Advertising platform will automatically handle the rest.

These are a new feature in 2020, and most businesses will find that their first campaigns may be set as Smart campaigns by default.

With smart campaigns for Bing marketing, ads will be shown:

  • On the Microsoft Search Network, including AOL, Yahoo, MSN, etc.
  • On the above sites when people search for relevant search queries

What makes Smart Campaigns “smart” is that Microsoft Advertising’s AI determines which search phrases to bid on within their network, as well as how much to bid on each. It does this by paying attention to the industry/category settings set up by the person managing the ads, as well as to the pre-defined budget settings.

The advantage of these methods for Bing search engine marketing is that they reduce the time and effort needed to manage ads. A plus for some definitely, but this means a bit less control for brands that want more direct control.

The cost of Bing search engine marketing

It’s not possible to define a single price range for doing Bing SEM. SEO for the search engine is arguably free (not counting time and effort) and marketers can set their ad budget to be as large or as small as they want – there’s no direct cost to setting up ads, and access to the Microsoft Advertising platform is free.

Bing claims that its advertiser tools help optimize ads so that, over time, the value of the budget is increased by fine-tuning ads with machine learning and reporting/feedback data. They also offer details on budget/cost in their help docs.

When it comes to Bing ads and Google Ads, the average cost per click on Bing is less than half the average cost of Google ads. The average cost-per-click overall for paid ads in Bing marketing is $1.54, about 30% lower than for Google.

But again, the actual costs will depend on a wide range of variables – and is largely up to the individual business. For complete Bing marketing – both SEO and PPC – the costs can be greater for business that choose to hire an SEM agency or consultant, but the ROI can be even better. Likewise a more aggressive budget can mean better results.

What is SEM?

SEM stands for “search engine marketing” and usually refers to marketing for both organic traffic and paid traffic from search engines.

It’s different from SEO (search engine optimization) which only focuses on just organic traffic by optimizing algorithmic signals and ranking factors used by Bing. Additionally, SEA marketing uses only paid strategies like PPC search ads. “SEM” means using both of these strategies to help maximize traffic as much as possible.

Bing SEM specifically means setting up a site to perform well with SEO (using meta-data, content, keyword density, ATLs, etc.) as well as with PPC search ads and the other paid channels we mentioned above. At the end of the day, more than 90% of online experiences involve search engines – and paid-search and SEO make up the two best digital marketing strategies for ROI, a big part of why SEM is such a dominant form of modern marketing.

Push and pull marketing

Bing SEM hinges on two important concepts in online marketing: push and pull. Push and pull strategies for digital marketing have different pros and cons but together are impossible to dismiss.

With push search marketing brands are able to rocket their product and services straight to the top of search results where they can get: more impressions for better brand recognition, greater traffic/CTR, and way faster revenue. In fact the speed of PPC is one of its best benefits.

Push marketing is more aggressive, but get’s results with a shotgun approach.

Pull marketing hinges on attracting customers that are already interested in what the business already has to offer – their content, their products, and more. It works on gaining traffic natural. The idea here is: if you build it they will come. This is why content and keyword accuracy are so crucial to SEO – since they allow people to travel through the SEO sales funnel faster by finding what they actually want.

Is it worthwhile to hire an agency?

Lots of businesses choose to build their SEO and PPC campaigns in-house. But other businesses choose to outsource their SEM to agencies or outside help.

Bing SEM is a little bit more-broad than just doing some baseline SEO and PPC and calling it a day. There’s a wide range of strategies involved in on-site optimization, content-marketing, brand building, backlink growth, shopping campaigns, negative-keyword lists, quality score, ad rank, and more. Plus, brands that are already engaged in SEM for Google search will find that they use much of the same knowledge for Bing (which is why it’s beneficial to both).

The reason why hiring an SEO agency, or hiring PPC management experts is an appealing option for Bing SEM is because: expert marketers come with years of experience, they can handle tons of busy-work and tedious processes for implementing optimizations/ad campaigns, and they can utilize lessons they learn from other businesses in the same industry. They can also help businesses squeeze out much greater ROI from their marketing budget – which over time can help to grow business online exponentially.

Professional marketers also offer businesses:

  • A dedicated team with account managers for full-time campaign work.
  • Reporting and data analysis to help businesses track their KPIs, and to feed-back into strategies that are working well.
  • Budget recommendations, forecasting, and A/B strategy testing.
  • More efficient ad-spend by muting bad campaigns and tracking “negative” keywords/audiences.
  • Expert keyword research and collaboration that means SEO and PPC can work together for better Bing marketing results.
  • Industry research and recommendations on algorithmic optimization, best-practices, and platform updates.
  • Ad copy writing and meta-data creation that fit the business’s brand language, and that won’t violate ToS.

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