Zach Michonski

Over the last month, the rivalry between Google and Bing has reached new levels of intensity. Mainstream pop culture icons, such as Stephen Colbert, have stepped in and reported on the growing feud. Google may be the search giant, but based on comScore’s recent search engine ranking reports, Bing has no intention of throwing in the towel – and marketers should start thinking of how they can best optimize their sites for Microsoft’s search portal.

Google has dominated the search engine market over the last decade, but since the arrival of Bing in 2009, the search giant has met its truest competitor. As Brafton reported, Hitwise’s February 2011 search report shows that Google’s search market share has dropped 2 percent, while Bing-powered search has gained 4 percent. Plus, we’ve covered stats indicating Bing now accounts for 27 percent of the overall search market.

Microsoft’s rapidly successful Bing campaign has not only grabbed the attention of Google, but has also rightfully captured the interest of internet marketers. Brafton has reported that the Bing/Yahoo alliance is paying off for search marketers, and we’ve also covered reports indicating failure to optimize for Bing is a costly mistake for brands.

For years, tools such as Google Analytics and Google AdWords have helped place Google at the forefront of search engine marketing. But it’s time for marketers to start thinking about how to boost their Bing rankings.

Here are three tips to enhance Bing SEO.

1. Make friends with the Microsoft adCenter.
Microsoft has presented itself as an online advertising must, but the adCenter can help with SEO, too. Similar to the Google Keyword Tool, the adCenter can be used to find competitive keywords for a site. Even though the keyword analytics is aimed at creating PPC ads, this insight can also help with organic search optimization.

Plus, using Microsoft’s adCenter lets marketer coordinate and execute SEO and PPC campaigns in tandem, just as they would in Google. With the rapid growth of Bing, this online advertising resource will become significant to small and big business looking to proactively remain a step ahead.

2. Boost Like-able content

Facebook has become the new best friend of Bing. Together, Bing and Facebook have created new search features that will help expand both parties, with Bing users seeing socially enhanced results. (For more, see Brafton’s blog on social search with Bing.)

Essentially, if you log into Facebook and search for products, places or services that friends have commented on, Bing will show you when Facebook friends “Like” results. In fact, Brafton reported that Microsoft recently announced it is further integrating Like data into search engine results, which means recommended content may be more likely to catch clicks from Bing searchers and boost overall rankings.

This relationship arguably gives Bing a major edge over Google, and marketers who prepare social content that catches “Likes” may put their brands ahead of the competition on Bing.

3. Invest in quality content

Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Harry Shum, recently attacked Google for not being cautious enough of spam and cheapening the results of its search engine. In doing this, Shum has tried positioning Bing as the pure spam fighting search engine of the future. (Of course, Brafton has since reported that Google is making major algorithmic updates to reward quality content sites.)

In reality, neither Bing nor Google has mastered the war on spam, but Shum made clear that Bing is taking up the mantle of rewarding quality site content. So marketers trying to optimize their sites for Bing should take a high-quality content approach (which will really help promote rankings across search engines).

Throughout 2011, we can anticipate an ongoing rivalry between Bing and Google, but there are other questions on our minds beyond Google versus Bing. How soon will Bing surpass Yahoo in the search market (even if both are fueled by Microsoft’s search engine)? How will Bing and Facebook continue to incorporate social media data into search results?

Still, the big question will be how much of the market Google and Bing each hold at the end of 2011. No matter how the search landscape develops this year, at the moment, marketers should take advantage of these three tips to boost their Bing SEO.