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31 min read

Bing vs Google: Search Engine Comparison 2024

This article was updated on: 17.05.2024

In the Bing vs Google debate, many would automatically assume Google takes the crown from both users and digital marketers when it comes to preference and overall user experience. Whilst Google continued to dominate the global market in late 2023 with an 83.49% market share, challenger search engines like Microsoft’s Bing have pushed to eat up some of this share in recent years.

Despite living in Google’s shadow, Microsoft has been honing its search offering and has seen great results in paid search in particular. The Bing equivalent to Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, has made significant strides, and in Q4 2023 the company’s overall revenue increased by 8% up to $56.2 billion (consistent with the levels of growth seen during previous quarters).

In the world of digital marketing, Bing is an important area for practitioners to focus on. As we’ll discuss over the course of this blog, Bing represents an opportunity for SEOs and paid media managers alike to increase the overall visibility of sites whilst reaching new users from different demographics. To take full advantage of this, it’s important that you understand the nuances of Bing and Google, particularly with regard to their ranking processes and PPC offerings. Read on to learn more.

NOTE: This post has been updated for 2024 👍

A Brief History of Bing and Google

Google Search Engine History

In the early 90s, just as the Internet was being adopted by home users, a site called Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web was created. The brainchild of Stanford graduates, Jerry Yang and David Filo, this site would go on to become Yahoo in April 1994. As you can see from the image below, Yahoo was initially a database of websites that was organised through a hierarchical system rather than a searchable index of pages.

A screenshot of Yahoo’s homepage in 1996 from

The next big move in the history of search engines came in 1998 when two Stanford PhD students– Larry Page and Sergey Brin – founded Google. It started out as a research project known as BackRub, so-called due to its ranking method of checking site backlinks to determine relative authority. This was what gave Google the edge over its competitors, and continues to do so to this day. 

As an interesting aside, the history of Google centres around the decision regarding its name and the etymology behind it. The name Google derives from the word Googol, a number equivalent to ten raised to the power of a hundred (10100). Page and Brin attempted to secure the domain at the time, but changed the name to Google when they found that it wasn’t available.

Bing Search Engine History

The history of Microsoft’s Bing, on the other hand, is much more recent. Descended from Windows Live Search and MSN Search, Bing came into being when these services were amalgamated and rebranded in July 2009. The first major update occurred in August 2011, with Microsoft introducing a new index-serving technology known as “Tiger”. Bing was then completely redesigned in 2015, followed by updates that penalised keyword stuffing and enhanced local search. More recently, in October 2020, “Bing” rebranded to “Microsoft Bing”, complete with a new logo and colours.

Google’s algorithm updates have been well documented, starting out sporadically with one in 2000 and another in 2002, then becoming increasingly more frequent over the years. In the present climate, hundreds of search algorithm changes are made every year, ranging from minor changes to far-reaching broad core algorithm updates that shake up the search engine results pages (SERPs). By contrast, Bing algorithm changes are rarely spoken about in the SEO community.

Bing vs Google Market Share in 2023

Although Google still dominates the global search market in 2023, Microsoft has seen some incremental gains in recent times. Google retains an 83.49% share of the global market, although this has fallen from 89.95% in the past three years; during the same timeframe, Bing’s share has risen from 6.43% up to 9.19%.

Combined, Bing and Google currently have nearly 93% of the global search engine market share. Yahoo is next in line with 2.72%, followed by Yandex and Baidu (the most widely used search engines in Russia and China respectively). These five search engines account for the vast majority of search engine usage around the world, although there are a wide range of minor players out there including the likes of Ecosia, DuckDuckGo, and Brave Search.

The levels of competition between the search engine giants are intense, but this is healthy and necessary. It is largely as a result of the intense rivalry between Bing and Google that points of difference have emerged between, driven by the need to differentiate themselves and thereby increase market share.

Differences Between Bing and Google

Taken purely at face value, some would argue that Bing and Google don’t appear to be all that different. True, they are both search engines that offer paid advertising and follow the same broad ranking principles, taking into account sites’ backlinks, technical health, and so on. Yet when we search for the same phrase in both of these search engines, we get drastically different organic results. The purpose of the next section is, in part, to explore why this is.

Bing vs Google: Differences in Ranking Factors

Whilst there are many similarities in the SEO ranking factors considered by Google and Bing, it’s also clear to see that there are significant differences in the weighting applied to certain ranking factors when we compare Bing and Google results.

This summary table provides a quick overview contrasting the two search engines’ ranking factors, but each item is then explored in greater detail in the sections below.

Ranking FactorBingGoogle
Mobile-First Indexing
Site speed
Core Web Vitals
Keywords in meta descriptions
Weighting on keywords in anchor text?More soLess so
Prefers .gov or .edu domains?
BacklinksLess soMore so
Social media signals

Technical SEO

Many technical factors are accounted for in the ranking algorithms of both Bing and Google, from mobile-friendliness to site speed. Investing in optimising behind-the-scenes structure and on-page technical SEO for your site can yield positive results across each of these search engines, although there are certain discrepancies between the factors that they deem important.

When implementing permanent redirects In SEO, it is considered good housekeeping to use 301 redirects as opposed to temporary 302 redirects. The use of 302 redirects can sometimes cause indexing issues with Google, but Bing’s system works by automatically interpreting a 302 redirect as a 301 after it has been crawled a few times. 302 redirects are therefore unlikely to cause any problems with Bing. To ensure your site is optimised for both Bing and Google, however, it’s important not to use 302 redirects when a permanent redirect is required.

In 2021, Google released a new ranking factor called Core Web Vitals, which Google described as a set of factors which make “the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile.” With a focus on speed, responsiveness and page stability, websites are expected to offer a high standard of user experience if they want to gain any benefit from this new addition to the ranking algorithm.

This includes technical factors which impact a user’s experience or enjoyment of a website, such as sluggish page speed or intrusive pop ups.

You can read in detail about Core Web Vitals in our guide.

Bing Examines Metadata More Closely

Many of the differences between the ranking processes of Bing and Google sit at the intersection of technical and content in SEO. For example, the treatment of metadata and other on-page signals differs significantly between the two search engines, largely due to the different ways in which they attempt to understand sites across the web.

Bing relies more heavily on conventional methods to understand content such as keywords in the domain, page titles, and metadata; Google, on the other hand, is less interested in these factors due to its superior interpretation of language in context (particularly since the advent of the RankBrain and BERT updates). All in all, this makes it more difficult for SEOs to optimise for Google than Bing.

In particular, meta descriptions play a far greater role in Bing’s assessment of a website than Google’s. These short, summary descriptions of a page’s content play an active role in Bing’s ranking process, whilst they are simply used to describe pages and encourage users to click through in the Google SERPs. Similarly, Bing pays more attention to the presence of target keywords in anchor text, whereas Google doesn’t focus quite as much on this element.

Your approach to SEO should take into account the ranking processes of both Bing and Google – none of the elements discussed here are mutually exclusive and neither of these search engines are likely to penalise sites that are also optimised for the other. With Google’s complex understanding of language, it’s important to write for humans and not over-optimise; at the same time, however, it’s possible to use keywords in your URLS, titles, and metadata without keyword stuffing. As with content in general, the trick is to strike the perfect balance between two.

Bing Prefers Official Domain Types

Bing prefers established content that has either been live for quite some time or has gained a large amount of traffic. This preference is also reflected in the fact that Bing favours more official top-level domains such as .gov or .edu, whereas Google considers commercial or popular websites to be just as valuable in many situations and relies more on PageRank. With this in mind, you could argue that digital PR and link building campaigns are more important for ranking on Google than Bing.

Off-Page SEO

We’ve already noted that Google’s ranking process originated with a PhD project called BackRub, which used backlinks to determine relative site authority. Even now, the search engine still utilises backlink analysis as a primary method for ranking websites: the more links to your site, the better it’s authority (and the better it will stand out in the search results). Although still a deciding factor in ranking, Bing does not place quite as much importance on backlinks.

Despite the fact that backlinks are more important for Google SEO, there are some significant commonalities between the two search engines’ treatment of links. In both cases, it is not just the quantity of backlinks that determines authority but also the quality and relevance. Links from well-established sites that are relevant to the recipient site pass on more link equity than their less authoritative counterparts.

Bing Pays Attention to Social Signals

In 2016, Google’s Gary Illyes was asked if the search engine incorporates social signals (e.g. consumer-brand interaction on Facebook) into its ranking algorithms. His concise answer: “no, we don’t”. Bing, however, is much keener on social media engagement, a preference that is reflected by its use of social signals as a ranking factor. Pages that have earned a greater number of likes, shares, and retweets are more likely to rank highly on Bing (although this is not a major ranking factor). Some form of social media marketing should be integrated into your digital marketing strategy by now, but Bing gives you an added incentive in the form of ranking boosts for strong social media performance.

Multimedia Content

Contrary to popular belief, Google’s crawlers have been able to understand JavaScript sections of your site for a while, and this will only improve over time: in 2015, a post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog stated that “as long as you’re not blocking Googlebot from crawling your JavaScript or CSS files, we are generally able to render and understand your pages like modern browsers.” By contrast, Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines caution that “rich media (Flash, JavaScript, etc.) can lead to Bing not being able to crawl through navigation, or not see content embedded in a webpage.”

Taken together, the responses from Google and Bing provide a few useful takeaways when it comes to rich media and SEO:

  • Firstly, sites should certainly avoid burying any important links on a page within JavaScript, as these may not be read by all search engines. 
  • Secondly, the general advice provided by Bing on this should be suitable for both Google and Bing SEO: “to avoid any potential issues, consider implementing a down-level experience which includes the same content elements and links as your rich version does.” 

Here, the term ‘down-level experience’ refers to the content that would be rendered on the site without all of the rich media (i.e. how some crawlers would see the page). Use the SEO Browser tool to check how your site appears to crawlers and make sure that all of the important content is visible.

Google’s Mobile-First Indexing

Most SEOs will be aware of Google’s mobile-first indexing policy and its implications. In short, Google uses the mobile version of a site for indexing and ranking purposes, making it important for all mobile content and metadata to be optimised fully and match that of the desktop version. (In practice, it’s best to avoid having separate mobile and desktop sites at all by implementing responsive design.) 

According to a previous announcement, mobile-first indexing was set to be applied to all websites by the end of 2020, however this was since pushed back to a deadline of March 2021. Any sites that still use a mobile version must optimise it appropriately and improve the mobile user experience (UX) where possible – read our guide on mobile-first indexing for more information on this.

Bing has a very different policy from Google when it comes to indexing content. Bing’s Christi Olson has confirmed that Bing has no plans to implement any equivalent mobile-first indexing policy, and is sticking to a device-agnostic approach, stating that “we maintain a single index that is optimised for both mobile and desktop to ensure our users continue to receive the most relevant, fresh, and consistent results no matter where they are.” Despite this, you should still allow Google’s mobile-first indexing policy to guide your SEO and UX efforts (as outlined in our mobile-first indexing guide) because doing so will not hurt your performance with Bing.

Bing vs Google: Beyond Ranking Factors

We’ve covered a range of areas in which Bing’s ranking process varies from Google’s. However, there are plenty of other differences between the two search engines aside from the algorithms they use. In particular, Bing and Google differ in terms of SERP features, local search, maps, voice search, and paid advertising.

The main contrasts between Bing and Google are summarised in this comparison table, and then considered in more depth in the sections below.

Point of ComparisonBingGoogle
SERP featuresFewer different types20+ many of which are unique
Visual immersionImage-heavy infographics shown for certain informational queriesGenerally less focused on visual media, but with image and video packs
Local search resultsLocalised results using a range of SERP features to display information Hyper-localised results from the immediate vicinity with fewer features
Map functionalitiesBing Maps displays slightly different routes and journey time estimatesGoogle Maps displays slightly different routes and journey time estimates
Image searchMore advanced image search, released prior to Google’s offeringLess advanced functionality, but Google is rapidly closing the gap with MUM
Voice searchCortana offers superior speech recognition overallGoogle Assistant offers enhanced understanding of context
Books and Scholarly ArticlesNot available in Bing at the time of writingHave been available in Google for well over a decade
FlightsRecently added to Bing, along with other travel functionalitiesGoogle was the first search engine to offer this feature
FinanceNot available in Bing at the time of writingGoogle Finance is unique in offering trends and share price information

Google Has Additional SERP Features

Bing has kept pace with Google throughout many SERP feature updates over the last few years. Whilst many of following SERP features were first created by Google (excluding the Twitter SERP feature), both search engines now use them:

  • Knowledge cards/panels/carousels
  • Maps (local packs)
  • News (top stories)
  • Images
  • Video
  • Sitelinks
  • Mini-sitelinks
  • Twitter
  • In-depth articles
  • Featured snippets (text/list/table)
  • Recipes
  • Apps
  • Reviews
  • Related searches
  • Jobs
  • Flights
  • Shopping

That said, there are some examples where Bing has decided not to follow the path taken by its main competitor in this area. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) SERP features that Google serves to mobile users are a conspicuous absence in the Bing search results. Depending on your point of view, the increased implementation of SERP features across both search engines could be considered a blessing or a curse.

Some SEOs rail against the proliferation of featured snippets and people also ask (PAA) boxes in Google’s SERPs, citing studies that suggest they lower click-through rates (CTRs) for all sites on the first page. Indeed, since Google removed pages that have featured snippets from the organic listings below them, this view has become more and more popular – particularly within ecommerce, some sites are opting out of featured snippets in favour of a listing using the max-snippet or no-snippet meta tags.

Others within the digital marketing community are only too happy to vie for SERP real estate by striving to obtain featured snippets and the like. It’s true that featured snippets can reduce CTRs in situations where a satisfactory answer is supplied within the snippet itself (why would you click through to a page if your question has already been answered in the SERPS?) However, in many instances users will choose to click through for more information – and obtaining featured snippets for long-tail keywords can enable sites to target users with niche questions and drive increases in relevant traffic.

The current featured snippet for ‘seo services for local businesses’

Bing Is More Visually Immersive

In March 2021, Microsoft Bing released a number of updates to their search features with the aim of moving towards “search results that seamlessly combine information with visually rich imagery in a single beautiful view”, as described by Bing. This will be particularly welcomed by users who do not want to read large amounts of text to find the information they are looking for – meaning, as with Google, users may no longer need to leave the SERPs to have their query answered. 

An infographic displayed in Bing for the keyword ‘tiger’

In the example shown here, an informational search for ‘tiger’ brings up an infographic style search feature. The information is visually pleasing and displays clear, factual information which can be digested quickly. It’s worth noting that each fact within the infographic is taken from and links to a specific source website, offering a new feature for SEOs to optimise for. Unlike Google, the websites included within the infographic search feature are still listed as normal within the SERP. 

Other additional search features reduce the need for a user to click off the results page, such as expanded carousel search and intuitive information highlighting. Expanded carousel search allows users to hover over an image placed within a carousel, where it will expand to offer bite-sized information. With intuitive information highlighting, complete recipes and ‘how to’ information can be intuitively pulled from a website and placed within a side panel directly into the results page.

The overall effect is that the user has no need to visit a website and sift through large amounts of text, but can instead gather important information directly from Microsoft Bing through engaging design. In that sense, Bing is much more visually immersive than Google. 

Local Search and User Proximity

Bing differs from Google in its approach to handling local search queries such as ‘restaurants near me’, displaying an entirely different set of results for the same localised keywords.

Both search engines display a map of the local area with pins indicating the locations of businesses and places that are relevant to the search. However, Google typically focuses on the user’s immediate vicinity by default, whereas Bing provides a larger view of the wider area.

Compare and contrast the two SERPs below for ‘restaurants near me’, the first of which is from Bing and the second from Google:

Bing results for “restaurants near me” with a wide-focus map
Google results for “restaurants near me” with a more zoomed-in map

This hyper-local vs local pattern also applies in terms of the top pages that Bing and Google will provide for local searches: Google tends to serve top listings that are very close to the user, whilst Bing will provide the most relevant listing from a wider radius. In the example above, the top restaurant for Google is closer to the user’s actual location than the one provided by Bing. In 2019, Google updated its local search ranking process to prioritise user proximity, so this is unsurprising.

Bing announced an update in March 2021 to their local search results in order to display aggregated information from a variety of sources. In other words, instead of just a piece of text or image carousel for a local search, Bing now shows Bing Maps, images, reviews, and other features to give as much detail on the location as possible. First launched in the US, this move was a sign of Bing’s continued efforts to provide design-focused informational searches and offer a more comprehensive overview than Google currently achieves.

Bing and Google Maps Side by Side

Bing Maps and Google Maps are both integral components of their respective search engines – these map functionalities have become widely used and are now central to Bing and Google’s offerings. We’ve briefly touched upon the differences between them in the context of local search, but it’s worth digging a little deeper into this.

At first glance, there aren’t too many visual differences between the user interfaces (UIs) of Bing Maps and Google Maps, as you can see from these screenshots of the two:

Results for “Nottingham” in Bing Maps
Results for “Nottingham” in Google Maps

Both maps functions provide the user with a knowledge panel containing information about the area or business, in addition to direction, sharing, and saving functionalities. The main section of both UIs is taken up by the map itself – in both cases, the map allows the user to zoom in and move about.

The most significant differences between Bing Maps and Google Maps come down to the directions they provide and the data that goes with this. The estimated journey times and accompanying route information differs between the two web mapping services.

Google appears to give slightly longer estimates: when searching for directions between Impression’s Fothergill House office in Nottingham and St Pancras Station in London by car, Bing estimates a 2 hour 39 minute journey and Google suggests 2 hours 45 minutes. Other journeys produce a similar disparity, with Google tending to add around 3-5% of the estimated journey time that was suggested by Bing in each case.

Although not important in SEO, it’s interesting that Google Maps provides the user with additional information regarding the fastest route between the destinations. When searching for Impression-St Pancras directions, for example, Google Maps highlights the fact that the chosen route avoids the closure of a major bridge along the way, whereas Bing Maps makes no reference to this potentially significant closure.

Recent studies have found that 62% of Gen Z and Millennials want visual search capabilities. With the advancement of AI and machine learning, the demand for image search is continuously growing – but who is currently ahead of the game between Google vs Bing? 

While Google offers users a wider selection of images and an Advanced Search function for helpful filtering, Bing offers higher-quality images with more detailed information than Google. 

Bing also offers visual search capabilities straight from the search engine, giving users the ability to complete a wide range of immersive functions (called specialised skills), such as shopping for furniture or clothing, identifying celebrities, exploring landmarks and finding similar images. The search engine is particularly good at displaying information alongside the images, such as pricing.

Another advantage of Bing Visual Search is that it allows developers to tell Bing what actions should be offered to a user directly from the image, such as leading users to a sale on a product page. Considering this together with higher quality images and more detailed information, Bing may currently have the upper hand on Google over image search capabilities.

However, Google is hot on the tails of its main rival with an ever-improving image search offering powered by its Multitask Unified Model (MUM).

Voice Search – Bing and Google Comparison

According to data from an Adobe survey, 48% of consumers use voice search for “general web searches” and 39% used virtual personal assistants (VPAs) via their smart speaker devices. Clearly, voice search represents a huge opportunity for SEOs and digital marketers more generally, but what are the key differences between the functionalities provided by Bing and Google?

Previous commentators have suggested that the two search engines offer different benefits to users of voice search. Writing for Search Engine Watch, Clark Boyd has argued that Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, has superior speech recognition but less accurate understanding of context than the Google Assistant. The point regarding the understanding of context makes sense when we consider recent Google developments such as MUM and its predecessor BERT.

As mentioned above, many voice searches take place via a physical smart speaker device such as an Amazon Echo. Given that these devices are one of the primary means by which voice searches are made, we might want to know which of the two major search engines’ results are used to answer queries most often as a further point of contrast.

An Amazon smart speaker on a wooden coffee table

There are no published statistics regarding the number of smart speaker VPA queries that are answered by Bing in comparison to Google. However, three of the four VPAs – Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa – use Bing for this purpose, with only the Google Assistant providing answers from Google. As such, we can assume that the majority of smart speaker users are receiving answers to their questions from Bing rather than Google.

Whatever the source of the results provided to users, the process of optimising your website for voice search remains the same. Fortunately for SEOs, this means that the same optimisation techniques will help to ensure that your content is used for voice search results powered by both Bing and Google.  Read our dedicated guide for more information on optimising your site for voice search.

Bing Offers No Equivalent to Google Books and Scholarly Articles

University students and book-lovers alike will tend to be drawn to Google over Bing due to the search engine’s useful features for carrying out research, including Google Books and Scholarly Articles. Similar to Google Images, these are displayed as separate tabs within the UI that users can switch over to if they are looking for books or academic papers on a given topic.

There are plenty of useful applications for these functionalities. Students looking to find that one key reference to support their thesis can use Scholarly Articles to help narrow down the search without having to pore over endless tomes in a physical library. And if you like the sound of a new novel from your favourite author but want to try before you buy, Google Books can help you do just that, with previews available for many titles.

The Google Books results for ‘search engine optimisation’.

Google Got Ahead of the Game With Flights and Finance

Flights and Finance are two other handy features pioneered by Google. Similar to sites like Skyscanner, Google Flights does exactly what it says on the tin: users can search and book flights via third-party operators all from one page, with the added benefit that you can filter flights by their environmental impact in terms of carbon emissions. Although Bing has created its own version of Flights, Google Finance remains unique. This interface allows you to view market trends and current share prices alongside a collection of relevant news stories, all without leaving Google.

The Google Flights UI

AI in Search: Google Gemini vs Bing Chat

In February 2023, Bing took a leap with OpenAI’s GPT-4, debuting Bing Chat (since rebranded to Copilot), a new feature allowing users to engage in conversations with its AI chatbot instead of traditional search queries. Responding swiftly in March 2023, Google introduced its AI chatbot, Gemini, powered by Google’s PaLM 2 language model. Differing from ChatGPT, Gemini leverages a distinct approach by directly extracting information from the web. 

Comparing the two, Gemini presents three response drafts for selection, while Copilot allows for response refinement upon request. Furthermore, Copilot can create AI-generated images, whereas Gemini can only retrieve images from the internet.

Overall, Copilot’s versatility and accessibility outshine Google Gemini. However, Google has stepped up its game with the custom Gemini-powered search feature, AI Overviews, which is reshaping the way we research and plan online. Watch this space!

Bing vs Google: Paid Advertising

We’ve now discussed the vast majority of differences between the two search engine giants when comparing them from an organic search perspective. All that remains in this Bing and Google comparison is to explore how the two search engines vary in terms of their paid advertising services: Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads). Here at Impression, we believe in the value of both platforms, offering Microsoft Advertising Management and Google Ads Management.

A Brief History of Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising

Microsoft Advertising is a much younger paid ad offering than Google Ads, beginning life as MSN adCenter in 2006. Prior to this, all of the PPC advertising on MSN Search was supplied by Overture and then Yahoo. Microsoft was definitely late to the party by comparison to the other major search engine providers, but soon realised that there was a burgeoning market to tap into.

By the time MSN adCenter was launched, Google Adwords was in its prime and had been running for 6 years, putting the new challenger on the backfoot from the outset. To begin with, its business model was distinct from the present offering: utilising a subscription-based model, Google would set up and manage campaigns on behalf of businesses. All of this changed in 2005 with the release of the Adwords self-service portal, the basis for the contemporary Google Ads service.

Differences Between Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising

When starting out with PPC advertising, the first thing that many businesses want to know is which platform has the greatest reach. Given Google’s dominance in the search market from an early stage, it’s unsurprising that Google Ads enables sites to reach a far larger volume of users than Microsoft Advertising. 

That said, Microsoft has made several strategic moves over the years in an effort to eat into Google’s share of the paid search market:

  • Following the launch of advertising on Facebook in 2006, Microsoft teamed up with the social network and adverts from its adCenter were published across the site (although Facebook replaced this by launching its own ad service the year after). 
  • With the launch of Bing in 2010, Microsoft partnered with Yahoo. The partnership enabled Bing ads to be syndicated on the Yahoo network.
  • At present, Microsoft Advertising in the single source of advertising across the Yahoo and AOL networks.
Bing Multimedia Ads (credit: Microsoft)

In 2021, Bing announced a new responsive ad format called Multimedia Ads following their focus on visually immersive search, which uses machine learning to combine images, headlines and descriptions. Importantly, only one Multimedia Ad will be displayed on a page, giving it prominence in the SERP. Google Ads does not currently offer a similar ad format with such exclusivity.

Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, Google Ads remains the dominant force in PPC. But with this position comes great competition between businesses for Google’s SERP space, which can be off-putting for smaller firms and new entrants to the paid search market. Achieving the top paid positions on Google is far more difficult than on Bing, requiring high-quality scores and significant levels of investment.

This brings us on to another key difference between Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising: the cost. The cost per click (CPC) on individual keywords tends to be lower with Microsoft Advertising than with its paid search rival, with aggregate effects on the cost of campaigns as a whole. (Keep in mind, however, that this is not the case in some verticals.) Whilst costs are generally lower with Microsoft, there’s a trade-off between price and audience volume – costs may be higher on Google Ads, but you’ll reach a much larger audience.

The composition of Bing’s audience likewise differs from Google’s. The challenger search engine is typically frequented by older users with higher levels of education than Google’s average user, so working with the UK’s second-favourite search engine can really benefit businesses that target this demographic specifically. Even for brands that have adopted a mass-market targeting strategy, spreading your paid search advertising across both channels can help to ensure even coverage.

In relation to this, there’s also variation between the targeting options offered by the two paid ad services. Both platforms enable sites to target specific user segments based on characteristics such as demographics, increasing the efficiency of ad spend. Google Ads offers a wide range of targeting options, from remarketing to dynamic search ads; Microsoft Advertising provides several targeting options, but is generally considered to be less advanced than its main competitor in this respect. In 2021, Bing announced the expansion of the Microsoft Audience Network and also the release of Similar Audiences targeting, although this has only currently rolled out to the US market.

However, a recent update to the targeting in Microsoft Advertising does allow you to use data from users’ LinkedIn profiles to create target segments. This information can be really useful for certain types of business that want to target users who work in specific industries (recruitment firms, for example, would benefit from this). Working at a more granular level, it can also be used as a tool to target employees of particular companies with ads. The LinkedIn targeting function is exclusive to Microsoft Advertising and LinkedIn Ads.

For businesses trying to decide which PPC platform to choose, we would recommend using both of them as part of an integrated digital marketing strategy. As we’ve seen, each search engine has its own unique flaws, merits, and audiences, so sites often see the best performance overall when combining the two and serving their ads to both groups of users.

Bing vs Google: Rounding Up

In short, both search engines offer unique value. While Google still dominates the market, providing additional search features and taking a mobile-first approach to indexing, Microsoft Bing has vastly improved its offering to differentiate itself from competitors, heading towards a more visually immersive search experience.

Starting with the history of the two firms and their competitive rivalry, we went on to consider the main differences in their organic ranking processes. This section put forward a number of actionable recommendations around how to optimise sites for both Bing and Google, including:

  1. Never use a 302 redirect when a permanent redirect is required.
  2. Optimise your URLs and metadata – but make sure your content appeals to humans, too!
  3. Focus your off-page efforts on gaining high quality links from relevant, authoritative sites.
  4. Encourage users to engage with your brand via social media (Bing takes social media metrics into account in its organic ranking process).
  5. For pages that contain lots of multimedia content, ensure that crawlers can read all of the important information. To do this, create a down-level experience with the same elements as the rich version, expressing important details through HTML (you can check how crawlers see your page using the SEO Browser tool).
  6. If your site still has separate desktop and mobile versions, ensure that they are both optimised in the same way and that the mobile UX is seamless.

This blog has also provided a comparison of Bing and Google beyond ranking factors, looking at SERP features, local search, maps functionalities, and voice search. There are a number of important takeaways from this section:

  • Google offers additional SERP features such as the AMP elements and Google Scholar. 
  • Bing’s local search scours a wider radius by default, whereas Google tends to focus on listings that are in closer proximity to the user.
  • Google Maps estimates longer journey times than Bing Maps, but also provides more important information regarding the route you have selected.
  • Bing is moving towards a more visually immersive search experience, offering unique search features not currently used by Google
  • Google offers a wider selection of images, however Bing’s images are higher-quality and offers more detailed information.
  • In relation to voice search, the Google Assistant has a greater understanding of linguistic context but less accurate speech recognition than Microsoft’s Cortana (for tips on optimising for voice search through both search engines, see our blog on this issue).
  • Only Google smart speakers and Google Assistant-enabled devices use Google results for VPA responses, whereas Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa all use Bing results.

The third section of this guide compared the two search engines’ paid advertising services (Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising). It’s worth remembering from this section that Google’s offering predates Bings by six years, having been launched as Google AdWords in 2000. Another key point to take away is that Microsoft has made several attempts to obtain a share of the PPC market over the years but Google remains the dominant force in this area.

Finally, we evaluated the pros and cons of Google Ads by comparison to Microsoft Advertising: the former service is more expensive, has a larger reach, and offers more advanced targeting options, but we would advise businesses to adopt an integrated PPC strategy that combines both services. In doing so, your campaigns will benefit from the unique features of both platforms and reach a much wider audience in total.

If you think you might need Impression’s help with SEO or PPC for Bing or Google, don’t hesitate to get in touch.