Your company website isn't the only place potential customers will go to interact with your brand online. Social media platforms as well as local search and business accreditation websites can also serve as resources for people who may want to do business with you. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Bizrate serve as powerful reputation management tools and are essential to most Internet marketing campaigns.

Search engines, however, are the final (and arguably most important) piece of the Internet marketing puzzle. And while Google is king in this arena (commanding nearly 67% of the market) Bing is steadily gaining ground. The Microsoft search engine is currently in second place with a 17.4% market share -- up 13% since May 2012.

13 percent!

Microsoft's aggressive marketing campaign combined with its exclusive Facebook- and Twitter-integrated approach to search, has yielded a rather impressive growth spurt for Bing. The integration strategy, which at first seemed gimmicky, has actually proven to be as influential as it is innovative.

The progression doesn't stop there: Apple has recently announced that Bing will be the "default search engine" for Siri. And, according to, consumers age 45 - 65 (you know, the ones with the money) use Bing more than Google. Coincidently (or not), this is the fastest growing demographic on Facebook, as well.

What's the takeaway from all this? I think it's obvious: incorporate Bing into your Internet marketing campaign.

Business owners who depend on search engines for leads have a real opportunity here -- especially if many of your customers are 45 and older.

Not quite convinced? Let's break it down some more:

Bing looks sexy.

Microsoft's "Bing It On" campaign features a side-by-side Search Engine Results Page (SERP) challenge. The commercials show participants choosing Bing's SERP page because it has the most visual content.

Their point is that people are drawn to vibrant, beautiful images -- not just information. This concept is what led to Facebook's visual revamp after trends showed that nearly half of all News Feed content consisted of pictures and videos. By making visual content on the site bigger, brighter and generally more appealing, Facebook increased user engagement.

The same strategy now works for Bing.

Bing loves local businesses.

Look. Google+ Local is nothing to kick dirt at. But just because Google developed a great tool doesn't mean Bing is irrelevant. In fact, in addition to incorporating local/maps into its search results, Bing Places for Business goes a step beyond Google: giving business owners the ability to display images, custom URLs and even their company logo within maps.

Make sure you capitalize on these innovations by verifying your company's location and optimizing your listing on Bing.

Twitter & Facebook love Bing.

Being active and reputable on Twitter and Facebook will not only promote your company's brand, it will win you valuable eye-catching real estate on Bing.

When a brand search is executed on Bing, the far right rail of the SERP will display your company's Twitter account info as well as any recent tweets you may have posted. It can even show your Klout score.

If you're logged into Facebook and you've granted Bing access to your account info, you'll be able to see the companies your friends "Like" directly in the results. It's a refreshing way to experience a search engine -- personalizing the experience for searchers while instantly creating interest and credibility around your brand.

Bing is gaining on Google.

Although Google's algorithm is more advanced than Bing's (e.g. it's more accurate and efficient), the gap between the two search giants is steadily closing.

Currently, Bing's algorithm works (more or less) the way Google's worked about two years ago. Naturally, because they're completely separate entities, the updates Google has made since then don't affect Bing at all.

The steps you take to improve your organic results on Bing, however, won't hurt your Google efforts. So go forth, optimize, and experience the boundless rewards of the path less traveled.

Keep it simple: produce quality links with keyword-rich anchor text. The title tags on your websites should include relevant keywords, as well. Again, these techniques will improve your rankings on both Bing and Google, so it's a win-win.

In conclusion…

Bing is here to stay. Recognizing and accepting this fact will make branding your company, managing your online reputation, and acquiring hoards of quality leads a simpler, more streamlined process.

What have your experiences been like with Bing? Do you prefer it to Google?

Leave your comments and questions below!

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