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While Google has the search market cornered with over 90% market share, Microsoft’s Bing has about 2.5% of search engine market share (the second largest globally, followed by Yahoo).
What does 2.5% market share mean? It means a little over 1 billion unique monthly visitors worldwide. It means 14.6 billion PC searches every month.
But Bing can be more than just traffic — it can be a powerful tool. Through the use of advanced search operators, you can find SEO (search engine optimization) opportunities that you might not find otherwise.
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What are Bing search operators?
Bing search operators are characters, words, symbols, or a combination of the three that you add to a search query to get specific search results from the search engine that is different or narrower/broader than the average result.
These are also known as Bing advanced search options and should be understood by every webmaster who wants to make the most of Bing. This type of search is also known as a syntax search.
(Note that Bing search operators and Google search operators do not all overlap, so you’ll need to check Google’s list of search operators if you want to apply these tactics to Google.)
For example, one search command is a set of quotation marks: “”
When you place quotation marks around a word or phrase in the search box, Bing and Google will only return results that use the exact word or phrase within the quotation marks.
So, if you search “bing search operators” in Bing, you will only get results that have that exact phrase in them:
You can see in the image that the exact phrase is bolded for each result.
Boolean search operators
One subset of search operators includes what are known as Boolean operators, which require the use of a specific language to work. Boolean operators include the words “and,” “or,” and “not.” In Bing, AND, OR, and NOT must be capitalized to work.
AND will return results that include both words on either side of the operator, like so:
metal AND roofing
However, the operator AND is usually already operative in most search engines, so you don’t need to use it for simple searches like the one above.
OR will return results that include either word.
metal OR roofing
NOT will exclude results.
metal NOT roofing
Search engines also use Boolean Modifiers, including quotation marks “”, asterisks *, and parenthesis ().
Asterisks are called “wildcards” and allow you to search for a word and include all the different iterations of that word beyond the wildcard.
For example, if you search for roof*, you will get a result that includes roof, roofs, and roofing.
Quotation marks, as explained earlier, return an exact phrase or word.
“metal roofing contractors”
Parenthesis allow you to create more advanced searches by grouping operators together:
(metal* OR roofing) AND “copper wire”
This would return a search that includes either a word with the stem metal (metal, metals, metallic, etc.) or the word roofing along with the phrase “copper wire.”
Because this search found nothing with the word roofing and copper wire, it only returned results with copper wire and metal*
Advanced Bing search operators
Beyond Boolean Operators and Modifiers, there are several search operators specific to Bing that you can use to design advanced searches of your website or other websites.
You can use the Bing search operator cheat sheet here, or you can keep reading for the full list and examples of how each search operator works.
This operator allows you to search for websites that have links to a specific file type.
For example, you might search “pushup contains.docx,” which finds web pages that link to a document on how to do a pushup:
This search operator returns results that only have the file extension you specify.
For example, you might want to find a list of whitepapers on roofing that are PDF files.
Metal roofing whitepapers ext: pdf
Filetype is a little different than contains: and ext: in that it only returns results that are the actual filetype.
music filetype: pdf will return results that are all PDFs:
inanchor:, inbody:, intitle:
These are extremely useful search operators as they allow you to search for a keyword or keyword phrase that appears in specific places in a web page’s metadata.
As the names suggest, inanchor: lets you search for a keyword in the anchor text of a web page. Similarly, inbody: lets you search for a keyword in the body text of a web page, and intitle: lets you search for a keyword phrase in the website’s title.
If you want to use these, you can only use one keyword per operator, like so:
This search operator lets you find websites hosted by a specific IP address.
language: lets you find websites in a specific language by using language codes.
“metal roofing” language: en would return metal roofing sites in English.
loc: or location:
loc: or location: gives you results from a specific country.
“metal roofing” loc:ru will give you metal roofing websites from Russia.
prefer: helps you narrow your search by focusing the search on a specific keyword.
football prefer: saints will give you results about the NFL Saints team
site: lets you search for a keyword phrase on a specific website. You can also use this to search subdomains.
site:https://granwehr.com backlinks will give you all web pages that contain the word “backlinks.”
This is extremely useful in SEO as it lets you search not only your own website for specific content that you might not know the URL for off the top of your head, but it also lets you search competitor’s websites for content that you might want to compete with.
For example, if you want to create content about backlink generation, you can use the site: to search for articles on their website about backlinks. You can then examine their articles and strategize on how you might create better articles to outrank them.
feed: lets you find RSS or Atom feeds that are about a search term.
feed:seo will return RSS feeds about SEO:
hasfeed: is slightly different in that it lets you search for an RSS feed on a specific term on a specific website, rather than a list of websites with RSS feeds.
site:https://ahrefs.com hasfeed:seo gives the SEO RSS feed for ahrefs.com.
url: is especially useful in SEO because it allows you to verify whether or not a specific web page (or an entire website) is in the Bing index.
url:https://granwehr.com/blog/black-hat-seo will check to see if this specific URL is in the Bing index. If it is, then you will get a single result — a link to that URL:
Unfortunately, one of the more useful (and similar) search operators, inurl:, only works in Google search.
How to use Bing search operators for SEO
Search operators can be especially useful for SEO in that you can use them to glean information about your website or about competitor’s websites through the search engine itself (rather than by accessing the website directly).
Guest post opportunities
Guest posts are a great way to get backlinks, but finding opportunities to write them can be frustrating and difficult.
Using some of these search operators, you can look for opportunities to write guest blog posts in your industry.
It requires you to try several different search terms, but it’s based on the operator intitle:. You can also use inanchor: though this might be less successful.
Essentially, you’re trying various keywords that have to do with guest blogging to see if you can find a website in your industry that accepts guest blog posts.
First, you enter your industry. Then, you use intitle: and one of the following keywords (or any other that you can think up):
- guest blogging
- guest blog posts
- guest posts
- guest posting
- write for us
- write for me
- write for
- editorial policy
An example would look like this:
roofing intitle: “guest blogging”
You can combine this with some other search operators to do multiple searches at once.
roofing (intitle: “guest blogging” OR intitle: “write for us” OR intitle: “contribute”)
Check for indexation errors
The url: operator is a great tool for checking pages on your website to ensure that Bing has indexed them.
This is slightly different from the site: operator because it only works on a single URL rather than the entire website.
Of course, this requires you to have a reason to believe that a URL isn’t indexed in the first place.
If you notice a problem with a web page, especially a sudden drop in traffic, you need to find out right away if there’s an indexing problem so that you can take whatever action is required to get it reindexed. That might even include responding to a penalty, which you can do through Bing Webmaster Tools.
If a URL shows a sudden drop in traffic from Bing, you might want to check it using this method:
The URL shows up, so we know that Bing has indexed it.
You can use this same method to ensure a URL has not been indexed.
For example, if you have content behind a paywall that leads the user to the URL for a PDF, you likely don’t want that PDF to get indexed, which would allow searchers to get that content without going through the paywall.
You would use the same operator to ensure the PDF’s URL had not been indexed. If it has been indexed, you may want to use the Removals Tool to block that URL temporarily, or you can use robots.txt to block it permanently.
Get help with your SEO strategy
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Find social media profiles
When trying to do outreach for guest blogging opportunities or other backlink opportunities, you might struggle to find contact information.
However, it’s often the case that you can use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram to get in contact with the right people.
This technique requires you to have the person’s name you want to contact, but you can usually find the name on their website, even when the contact information isn’t available.
For example, if you’re trying to contact a blogger, but they don’t have a contact page (not all do), then you can use their name to search for them on social media:
You can also search multiple social media sites at once:
Search for duplicate content
Duplicate content is to be avoided in some cases, but it’s not always clear, especially on large ecommerce websites, if there’s duplicate content on the site.
Thankfully, you can use some of Bing’s search operators to look for duplicate content so that you can change the content or canonicalize it.
Using the site: operator, you’ll search your website for words, phrases, or blocks of text that you think might be duplicated across your website.
site:granwehr.com “Want to see how you’re doing with SEO? Get an instant SEO audit below”
You’ll be able to see instantly how many pages have this same piece of content so that you can decide what you’d like to do about it:
You can use the same tactic to see if your content has been stolen by other websites.
You simply take the title from a web page that you think might have been stolen from, then you put it into the search box like so:
intitle: “Faceted Navigation SEO: Best Practices and Common Errors”
If your website is the only result, then your content hasn’t been stolen. Keep in mind that your content may have been syndicated, so check each result to make sure it’s actually stolen before taking action.
Find opportunities for internal links
Internal links are a powerful tool in any SEO’s toolbox, but they’re often underutilized. Internal links help Bing and other search engines to understand how your pages are related to each other when crawling your website.
Internal links also help crawlers find new content on your website more quickly to rank faster.
Further, internal links are good for the user experience. When someone lands on a web page, you want to keep them on the site by offering value. Internal links give visitors more content to consume that’s related to the content they’re currently consuming.
The way this works is to search your own website using the site: operator for keywords.
For example, if you want to link to “internal links” on your website, you would type something like this:
site:granwehr.com internal links:
Not only will this give you web pages that are about internal links (pages you would like to link to), but it will also give you pages where the term “internal links” shows up so that you can link from those pages.
Get a complimentary SEO audit
Because Bing can be a serious traffic source, it’s worth your time to learn how it works. Using Bing search operators will help you to use Bing as a powerful SEO tool to build backlinks, build better internal linking structures, and find guest blogging opportunities, among others.
Want to see how you’re doing with SEO? Get an instant SEO audit below. Or, schedule a free consultation to see how intent SEO can boost search traffic revenue by 700%.