on June 7, 2021 (last modified on January 28, 2022) • 12 minute read
Remember Ask Jeeves, Dogpile, and Yahoo? These were just a handful of the OG search engines that everyone relied on back in the 1990s and early 2000s before Google became, “well Google.”
While all of these search engines are still around today (incredibly!), they don’t draw the same search volume as in their heyday. A lot has changed in the world of SEO, web design best practices, and well how people discover information online since the Web 1.0 days.
For some context on just how different the Internet was, this is a screenshot of Dogpile’s homepage in 2001 courtesy of Wayback Machine. 😉
While Google is the dominant search engine these days with a market share of 86.6%, and 92 billion visits in march 2021 alone, it’s still far from the only search engine.
Bing is the 2nd largest search engine with around 6% market share. While that’s tiny compared to Google, this still amounts to more than 12 billion global monthly searches.
While it would be silly to spend time optimizing your website for searches on Dogpile in 2021, you should absolutely consider optimizing your website for discoverability on other search engines, like Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo.
In this post, we’re taking a closer look at the most popular alternative search engines today.
Let’s dive in.
The short answer is yes.
In fact, 91.43% of the respondents we surveyed stated that they optimize for more search engines than just Google.
The more nuanced answer is that optimizing for more search engines created a more holistic approach to how you get traffic online.
“We don’t center our strategy around SEO,” says Alex Birkett of Blissfully. “Instead, we ideate based on customer pain points and create Product Led Content. If you think about the long term incentives of any search engine, it’s to deliver the best content. So we just focus on creating that content.
Anyway, Bing gets way more traffic than most people think, so we also factor in Bing search traffic and keywords when building out our content roadmap. It’s a marginal activity, but by factoring it in, we introduce very little extra work but potentially much more traffic.”
Many of the factors that influence search rankings are universal across all search engines, not just Google.
While Google makes up the lion share of organic search traffic, optimizing for other search engines not only diversifies your traffic sources but may also improve your rankings on Google.
The biggest reason for search traffic diversification is to hedge against future risks – like privacy concerns.
For example, 94.28% of respondents think that privacy privacy protection will impact the overall choice of search engines in the coming years. Of those, 33% think the impact will be great and 48.5% think it will be moderately impacted.
So, what other search engines should you be paying attention to these days? The largest alternative search engines are Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yandex, Yahoo, Baidu, and Startpage.
Let’s take a closer look.
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As the second largest search engine, it is no surprise that 71.43% of our respondents said that they optimize for Bing.
“Although Google is a more popular choice when it comes to search engines, it’s important for your site to be relevant among other options too,” says Sarah McFadden of Grin. “Bing is a very popular search engine choice, where we also focus on our rankings/metrics. Not everyone uses Google, and positive publicity in any form tends to be beneficial for a company.
Additionally, it tends to be less expensive to advertise on Bing versus Google, so that can also be a benefit of focusing some time toward Bing. Plus, Bing has a great social media integration in their search engine results!”
Crystal Ortiz of Socialhart LLC adds, “In addition to Google, I optimize websites for Bing since it’s the second most popular web search engine in the U.S and is popular in markets like the U.K… Since so many use the platform – and because what works for Google may not necessarily work for Bing – I at least submit, optimize, and monitor sites on Bing.
A good reason for tracking the search engine is if you’re also running Bing Ads. I’ve seen a site get penalized in Bing Ads because a page had multiple H1 tags. That sounds far-fetched, but it did happen, oddly. Bing can also tell you any errors, similar to Google Search Console, making it convenient to communicate with stakeholders about why you might want to make changes and recommendations.”
An added benefit of optimizing for Bing traffic too is that some SEO professionals say it is easier to rank well on Bing than Google.
Melissa Kelly of virtualteambuilding.com says, “Bing is easier to rank on than Google, perhaps because there are fewer signals or less competition. Often it is enough to do basic keyword optimization and get a few links to reach the front page, or even the coveted top three results.
Most importantly, the traffic on Bing is also quite meaningful. In general, keywords that we monitor have 10 – 20% of the volume that Google does, which still adds up to hundreds of thousands of searches that we can connect with.
Also, Bing has a great SEO platform called Bing Webmaster Tools that is more full-featured than Google Search Console. By optimizing for Bing with this tool, we’ve also improved our rankings on Google.”
An often overlooked reason to pay attention to Bing is because it is the default browser for a lot of Windows users. “As much as some SEOs hate to admit it, it’s super important to optimize for Bing,” says Michael Ferrari of Pen Cap Online Marketing. “While most users are savvy enough to select the browser of their choice, a lot of Windows users still default to Edge or Internet Explorer, both of which default to Bing.
For some users, it doesn’t even occur to them that they’re using Bing instead of Google. And even users who do know the difference are sometimes forced to use Bing. For instance, some offices’ IT setup prevents employees from downloading their browser of choice, meaning they have to use a default Windows browser that defaults to Bing. I’ve seen this both in my own past work experience and with clients. For that reason, you can’t rule out Bing, especially in the B2B space.”
This is particularly true for older Internet users (think the 60+ crowd).
“Bing is important to optimize for as it’s great for local search, and the older demographic is still very much on Bing,” explains Elizabeth Weatherby of Northern IL Vein Clinic. “Bing Places is similar to Google My Business, where you can create a listing profile for your business and optimize with details and keywords. This is super helpful for you to ensure your online presence & business information is strong and uniform across the board.”
For example, Steve Steinman of Ballistiglass says, “Optimizing for Bing is important to us because of the nature of our target market. While in the US Bing only has under 6% of market share, it tends to be used by those in the older age brackets, who often happen to be the key decision-makers that constitute our audience.”
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise than that some websites get more search traffic from Bing than Google. In fact, this is the case for 85.7% of the respondents in our survey.
“I focus a bit on Bing, as often the quality of website users coming from Bing is better than Google,” says Filip Silobod of Honest Marketing Zagreb. “It’s difficult to optimise for another search engine as you want to be optimised for Google first. Bing relies more on “exact match” keywords. I noticed that sometimes websites are not indexed in Bing, but are on Google. That is when I reach out to Bing support and explain the issue. I found their support excellent at this, better than Google. After a couple of weeks, they successfully resolved the issue and the site is indexed again. I check the Bing webmaster tools for crawling, indexing, sitemaps and submit urls.”
David Lynch of UpPhone adds, “While 90% of our traffic is acquired organically, only 75% of that organic traffic comes from Google. We feel that it’s important to spend some time optimizing our content for other search engines to secure and increase our organic traffic from non-Google sources.
We believe it’s important to keep up with best practices for other popular search engines. The increased focus on personal privacy over the past few years may drive users away from tech giants, and there have been increasing calls for lawmakers to break up large tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Keeping up with best practices for other search engines and diversifying your traffic sources will help your company stay lean and flexible in the event that there’s a big change search landscape.
Will there be a big change in the near future? It seems unlikely, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared in the event that it does happen.”
While Bing’s demographic is predominantly older Windows users, DuckDuckGo’s audience skews towards tech-savvy, privacy-conscious individuals.
In our survey, it was ranked as the second most important alternative search engine that they optimize for.
“DuckDuckGo is important because it can easily provide full anonymity when it comes to searching on their engine,” says William Chin of YourDigitalAid. “No cohort data analysis or IP targeting. There’s no social engineering techniques and everyone gets the same search results regardless of their profile.”
Brian Stewart of ProsperoWeb, LLC adds, “It’s no wonder that as consumers have become more internet savvy in recent years, they’ve become more worried about cybersecurity. As a result, we see a need to optimize for DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine. DuckDuckGo is widely regarded as one of the best search engines for private browsing. It does not collect any data or keyword history related to your searches or your personal information, which is one of the key reasons for its increase in popularity.”
Yahoo was one of the first big search engines in the Web 1.0 days. While it is not nearly as popular today as it once was, there are many people, who still rely on it.
“Google might be the king but Yahoo is still a thing,” says Jerome Williams of JWorks Studios. “They may be obsessed with sensationalizing dumb articles, but you can still get lots of traffic from them. It is also an indicator of how well your site is truly optimized. If it’s not picking up what you want it to, then maybe your site is actually tailored and not optimized.
All search engines should be able to crawl and read your site the same, even if they catalog it differently. Many people only focus on Google (guilty, to an extent), but if your goal is to drive traffic, then use the other lanes on the road, too!”
Similar to DuckDuckGo, Startpage is another search engine that caters to the privacy-conscious crowd.
“Startpage is a privacy-friendly Google search alternative,” says Miklos Zoltan of PrivacyAffairs. “We’ve noticed on our site that it’s now starting to be used more and more, so we decided to optimize for this search engine as well. With Startpage, your search results will reflect the state of the internet and won’t be tampered with for personalization. Another nice thing about Startpage is that if you click on the little “mask” icon to the left of each result, you can view the page through Startpage’s proxy server for extra anonymity.”
If your target audience lives in Russia or many countries, like Georgia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine that were formerly in the Soviet Union, then you should pay attention to Yandex.
Yoann Bierling of International Consulting explains,“The Yandex.ru search engine is widely used by hundreds of millions of web visitors, mostly from CIS countries, and has a lot of very interesting, free, and easy to implement functionalities, such as Turbo Pages: a technology similar to AMP, that stores light versions of web pages and is supposed to give them a boost in ranking and visibility.”
In sum, if you are only focusing on Google, there is a good chance that you are missing out driving more traffic back to your website. While the alternative search engines you focus on will depend on your site’s ideal audience, you should prioritize at least a few.
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