This week Bing has been making some important announcements designed to help webmasters and SEO service providers achieve higher ranking results within Bing’s search listings. Although Bing may only take a relatively small amount of traffic compared to Google, it’s worth remembering that it’s all relative, and Bing is still serving billions of results every month and delivering high volumes of traffic to those websites near the top of the results pages. Being at the top of the first page of Bing will usually drive more traffic than being at the bottom of page one of Google, and as Bing’s hold on the search engine market grows steadily week by week, getting your site to the top of Bing has never been more important.

As so many businesses are still focussing exclusively on optimising their content for Google, and not bothering with Bing, the opportunities for small and medium size businesses to dominate within Bing’s search results have never been better, and so whenever experts within the Bing corporation offer handy hints, tips and advice, it’s definitely worth listening.

Although in some cases the advice is very specific to the way in which Bing works, many of the ways in which you should optimise for Bing work just as well with Google. The differences may be slight, but even a slight difference can be expensive if you don’t take it on board. So what is the advice which Bing have been talking about this week?

If you have read the news or Bing’s own blog then you’ll be aware that they’ve been talking a lot this week about captions, and how important captions are to the way in which not only Bing prioritises websites in their search listings, but also how likely it is that visitors will click on your link. This all sounds like good common sense, but the one question a lot of people have asked is, what’s a caption?

The first thing most people think of is the caption that can be included underneath an image. In a previous blog post I’ve talked about the importance of including image captions and alternative text whenever possible with images on your site, but this is not the kind of caption which Bing has been talking about. What Bing means by a caption is the actual listing you see of your website on Bing’s results pages. Your website’s entry is called a caption in Bingland, and it includes four things – a title, a snippet, the URL and a preview. Although the preview is still in a state of flux and being developed at the moment (I’ll update you in this blog when there’s more news there), it’s the first three items that they’re keen for you to think about.

Specifically what Bing is keen for you to be aware is not only why each of the elements to your website’s caption is important, but how you can help to influence what information is included in it.

The first item is the title, which is important for two reasons – firstly it’s usually the first (and sometimes the only) element within your site’s caption which users read, and secondly it’s the ‘blue text’ which links to your site. This title is taken straight from the <title></title> tag within the HTML of your site. This means that having a descriptive title that’s catchy and likely to attract attention and clicks is very important. Including your keyword or keyphrase in the title is also important, as is making sure that every one of your pages has a different title, and every title is page specific.

The second item is the snippet – usually two lines taken either from your <meta description> tag, or from your entry on DMOZ.org (AKA Open Directory). In some cases they’ll just take text from your page, but if you have a well written, well optimised and brief meta description, this will usually be what they use.

Finally, the URL – think about getting some keywords in here if possible. Make it user friendly, and where possible use keywords, such as www.url/keyword/keyphrase.html

Need help optimising for Bing? Get in touch and we’d be happy to help.