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SEO in 2020: Going Beyond Google

Google is not the only search engine we need to be paying attention to. Find out where else SEOs should be focusing their time.

SEO in 2020: Going Beyond Google

In the majority of countries in the world, there is a huge emphasis on Google-first SEO.

That is, looking to Google for the latest changes in how to optimize websites and achieve better levels of organic search traffic.

This, however, might not always be the best approach.

There are many other search engines that can help our brands be surfaced to our target audience.

Some of them don’t always spring to mind when we talk about SEO.

The same optimization principles will apply, however.

When working in SEO, we hone our skillset. We become great at understanding our audience. We know their content needs and how they search.

These skills can easily translate to other platforms outside of the traditional web search engines.

Google is not the only web search engine being used.

Google might be the largest search engine in your region. It’s probably the most popular with your demographic.

However, it won’t be the only search engine they are using.

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Reasons for Optimizing for Other Search Engines

There are many reasons why we should look beyond Google for our SEO strategies in 2020. For instance:

Google’s Share of the Market Is Slowly Declining

According to Statista, in April 2012 Google was reported as having a 91.7% share of the international search engine market, whereas in October 2019 that fell to 87.96%.

During that time, Bing’s market share rose from 3.5% to 5.26%.

Ignoring Other Search Engines Could Lead Your Site to Rank Poorly in Them

Just because Google is a dominant player in most markets, it’s not the only one.

Focusing purely on optimizing for Google’s algorithms could mean missed opportunities in other search engines.

Google May Not Be Where Our Target Audience Is Most Engaged

With the rise of privacy concerns there are many people who are opting to stop using Google in favor of sites that are more respectful of users’ data.

If your target demographic is aware of the implications of tracking, data harvesting and advert targeting they may opt for search engines that do not engage in user behavior tracking.

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Google is not necessarily the most used search engine for visual searches, or even product searches. Depending on what your audience is looking for might mean they go elsewhere for their searches.

Traditional Search Engines

When talking about search engines, most people can name at least a couple other than Google. Many of those are more traditional, direct competitors to the search giant.

Bing

Microsoft owns Bing. It is not Microsoft’s first attempt at a search engine – Bing’s predecessors included MSN Search and Live Search.

According to Statcounter, Bing held a 2.32% share of the world’s search engine market as of December 2019.

Bing is the default search engine for Microsoft’s Edge browser and Internet Explorer. Because of this, products produced by Microsoft and/or running a Microsoft OS will have Bing as the default search engine.

Although Bing doesn’t have the same market share as Google, there are certain demographics where it is more popular. It has statistically higher usage in some countries than others too.

According to Statcounter Bing holds a 4.14% share of the U.K. search engine market, 4.36% of the Canadian search engine market and a 6.11% share of the U.S. market.

It has considerably less share of the Asian and African search markets.

Like Google, Bing has different search functionality such as Maps, Instant Answers, and flight information.

As of January 2020, brands can set up a brand page in Bing which, according to Bing, “will display a beautiful search results page highlighting the official website, social media pages, and sometimes even the recent social media activities.”

Bing is by no means lagging behind Google in improving its search algorithm. Bing revealed in November 2019 that it had been using BERT in its search results before Google.

Similarities & Differences

Optimizing for Bing is similar to optimizing for Google.

The use of BERT in both algorithms means both search engines are making strides towards better understanding user intent. This means keyword stuffing and poorly written copy is going to do you no favors in Bing.

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Bing’s webmaster guidelines states that:

“Bing seeks content. By providing clear, deep, easy to find content on your website, we are more likely to index and show your content in Bing search results.”

This means writing authoritative, useful and clear content for your site will be of benefit in Bing’s rankings as it is in Google’s.

Links are also specifically called out in Bing’s webmaster guidelines as being a trust signal. As with Google, manipulation of link-building through link schemes can see you “delisted” from Bing’s results.

Something striking about the difference between Google and Bing is Bing’s wording around the part social media has to play in rankings.

“Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are a social influencer, your followers tend to share your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how your site ranks organically in the long run.”

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When asked if Google takes social into account for SEO, Google’s webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes said: “The short version is, no, we don’t”.

This wording of Bing’s statement makes it sound like social shares might be taken into consideration in the rankings.

However, this could easily be in reference to the links that are formed when content is shared. Regardless, having a good social presence and creating share-worthy content is not going to harm your marketing efforts.

Yahoo

Yahoo’s search engine started life as a way to search Yahoo’s directory. Yahoo soon began using other search engines to power its results going from Google to Bing in 2010.

Alongside results from Bing, Yahoo uses its own web crawler “Slurp”. Yahoo’s share of the global search market is 1.59% as of December 2019.

It used to be a more prominent player in the search engine market, however, its popularity has dropped considerably over the years.

Although a small contributor to organic search traffic it should not be ignored.

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Thankfully, due to it being powered in part by Bing’s search results, there isn’t really any additional considerations to make when optimizing for Yahoo.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that was launched in 2008.

It uses information gathered by its own “DuckDuckBot” from over 400 sources including Wikipedia, Bing, and Yahoo.

In February 2019, DuckDuckGo announced that over one billion searches are conducted through its search engine every month.

DuckDuckGo positions itself as a search engine that does not track its users. This is a big contrast to Google and Bing that both provide user data to advertisers.

Due to the lack of tracking, DuckDuckGo does not personalize its search results based on search history. However, this does not stop DuckDuckGo from providing localized searches.

DuckDuckGo offers searching shortcuts called “bangs!” which enable users to search other websites.

For instance, searching “w! search engine optimization” would take you straight through to Wikipedia’s page on search engine optimization.

There is little information from DuckDuckGo itself about what we need to do to rank well in its search results. Mostly, working on the same principles as would be needed to rank well in Google will help.

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For a more detailed guide on ranking in DuckDuckGo, see Mindy Weinstein’s excellent article from May 2018.

DuckDuckGo might seem like a small player in relation to Google, however, it is growing.

According to its own statistics, in 2016 DuckDuckGo had 4,086,262,667 queries conducted on its site. In 2019, that number rose to 15,081,213,361.

Ecosia

Ecosia currently claims to have over 15 million users. The search engine differentiates itself from the rest by donating over 80% of its profits to non-profit organizations focused on the environment and planting trees.

Like DuckDuckGo Ecosia also claims to not share searchers’ data.

Bing’s data, other third-party data, and its own algorithms are what powers Ecosia’s search results. As the results are so heavily influenced by Bing, optimizing for that engine should assist with ranking in Ecosia.

Ecosia is popping up in traffic source reports more and more. With the social conscious becoming more aware of human impact on the environment, it would stand to reason that its popularity will increase.

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Baidu

With 67% of the search engine market in China as of December 2019, Baidu is the country’s largest search engine. It holds over 80% of the market share of mobile searches.

In some ways optimizing content to rank in Baidu is similar to ranking in Google. However, there are some stark differences.

Baidu uses meta descriptions as a ranking factor and will also strongly favor its own properties in search results. Having a Chinese registered website is also hugely advisable if trying to rank in Baidu.

Content designed to rank in Baidu must be written in Simplified Chinese. Baidu has its own trends platform called “Baidu Feng Yun Bang”. This is a helpful source of new, relevant content ideas.

Yandex

Second only to Google in terms of the search engine market share in Russia is Yandex. Between the two search engines, they hold almost 100% of the market.

Yandex puts emphasis on elements such as keywords in URLs that Google does not. Conversely, Yandex is not as concerned with internal linking structures.

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Yandex is slower than Google at finding new content. To get around this issue website owners can use Yandex.Webmaster in a similar way to utilizing Google Search Console.

For a really comprehensive guide on how to rank in Yandex, see Dan Taylor’s 2018 article.

Other Types of Search Engines

Going beyond Google also means looking past traditional search engines as part of our SEO activity. There are a host of other search engines that are used by millions of users each year.

Amazon

SimiarWeb estimates Amazon’s traffic in December 2019 to have reached 2.73 billion. Although primarily considered a portal for shopping, it is essentially a search engine.

Searching on Amazon will bring back a plethora of product listings. Some of these listings are sponsored, others are organically ranked.

Amazon’s searches are keyword based. Therefore, similar keyword research and optimization can be carried out as with the other more traditional search engines.

Amazon’s algorithm will rank products based on relevance and also whether they are likely to sell. The use of keywords in a listing will help with the relevancy. Selling products will help increase their rank.

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Amazon will promote products that sell well. This means considering traditional conversion factors like reviews and engaging descriptions to help generate those first sales.

For more detail on how to rank organically in Amazon see Robyn Johnson’s article from August 2019.

YouTube

According to YouTube, it has over two billion users. There is currently less than 7.8 billion people in the world. YouTube is used by over one-quarter of the world’s population. It also claims that one billion hours of video are watched every day through its platform.

YouTube is essentially a keyword-driven search engine. One that dominates the search landscape.

Tags, titles and descriptions can all be set, and optimized, by the video uploader. These will help add relevancy to your videos for the search terms you want them to be found for.

Engagement signals will also affect rankings. Subscriber numbers and likes can impact how well a video will rank in the YouTube search results.

Ranking well on YouTube can help drive brand awareness but also direct visits to your website. For more information on YouTube optimization see Sam Hollingsworth’s helpful tips.

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Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to get your brand discovered. Searches are carried out both through keywords and Pinterest’s “Lens”.

Optimizing your pins for keywords will enable Pinterest to serve them to relevant audiences.

The Lens is an interesting development in visual search. By pointing your phone camera at an object when using Pinterest it can serve you related pins.

Visual search is harder to optimize for than text-based searches. It will all come down to how similar the look of your pin is to the object being searched.

For more guidance on Pinterest optimization, see Clark Boyd’s article.

Conclusion

Google is not the only search engine.

Your target demographic might not even be using it.

Although optimizing for the main search engines follows a largely similar pattern, this can deviate significantly in the less traditional engines like Amazon and YouTube.

It’s important to understand where your audience is engaging with content like yours and ensuring you are ranking in those discovery engines.

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Helen Pollitt

Managing Director at Arrows Up

Helen is the Managing Director at Arrows Up. She is an SEO consultant and trainer with a passion for equipping ... [Read full bio]

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