Although there have been attempts to spark a Coke vs. Pepsi debate between Bing and Google, a new study from Searchmetrics shows the search engines may have similar search ingredients after all. Earlier this year, Searchmetrics released a report identifying factors found in online content with higher Google SERP rankings. A fresh study about Bing’s ranking signals suggests the two engines look for many of the same traits when determining which information should be highly visible for internet users.
This implies that marketers don’t need to pigeonhole their SEO strategies by creating content for one engine or the other. In fact, it might be best to consider factors beyond the engines to help them win the most exposure on both sites.
The SERP trifecta: Social, SEO and quality content
Social signals, links and on-page content factors were the characteristics most often found in content that takes top Bing SERP positions. Perhaps surprisingly, Google +1s were found to have the strongest ties to higher rankings in Microsoft’s search engine (followed by Facebook engagement and then Tweets). Keywords and links were also in the running for top corollary factors.
Google’s ranking signals were not far off, with +1’d content frequently displaying at the top of SERPs. Other social signals were found to possibly impact search rankings, including a high volume of Facebook shares and comments as well as Tweets. It seems backlinks continue to have a strong influence on search visibility, but keywords were not found to be as influential.
One point of divergence to note – the length of URLs seem to impact Google search rankings, but they have a smaller impact on Bing SEO performance. The study found content with shorter URLs tends to rank better.
Don’t get caught up on Google+
Before marketers jump to the conclusion that Google+ marketing is the way to game the SEO system across the web, it’s important to remember that these findings are purely correlational. Google has taken a strong stance against the idea that content shared on its social network receives any preferential treatment in search results. (Read this Brafton article to learn more about ranking factor myths and truths straight from search marketing experts at this year’s SMX East.)
Still, there are several noteworthy takeaways when these studies are combined:
1. Social signals clearly matter – Informative content and brand narratives will capture readers’ attention and inspire them to share with wider audiences.
2. Technical SEO is also important – Although the content conversation has shifted toward quality storytelling rather than basic SEO-friendly tagging, the findings show these fundamental principles continue to count toward better search rankings.
3. Best practices are a staple – Ultimately, we are seeing that brands creating, optimizing and sharing great content (rather than putting all of their eggs in one search basket) are succeeding on multiple sites and thus, bringing more traffic to their pages.