When we talk about SEO best practices, we tend to refer to Google’s algorithm and ranking signals. After all, Google is the most popular search engine in the world — by a long shot. It holds 88% of the search engine market share in North America.
That’s an impressive number, but what about the other 12%? There are over seven billion monthly searches within the U.S. alone, taking place beyond Google.
How does your website rank on Bing, Yahoo, and other international search engines? And how much does it matter? Should you care about SEO best practices besides Google?
The short answer is yes! Overlooking those other leading search engines and the SEO strategies specific to their algorithms is a missed opportunity. It’s like saying no to free traffic, and that’s crazy talk!
Who doesn’t want more visitors to their website? Check out 5 Reasons Why Organic Traffic Matters (and How to Get It).
Keep reading to to learn exactly why SEO best practices beyond Google matter, or skip ahead to get right to our tips for boosting your search ranking on Bing and Yahoo.
Why Should You Care About SEO Best Practices?
“Doesn’t whatever SEO work was done on my website when it was launched or redesigned still do the trick?”
Search engine optimization is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results”, according to respected search authority Moz. It’s definitely not a one-time effort.
SEO intertwines with your content, social media, and advertising to form a digital strategy. Without SEO to lay a solid foundation of regular traffic, your website stagnates and slips onto those pages in the search results that no one ever checks.
Ongoing SEO is what ensures your website gets crawled and its pages get indexed by search engine spiders and bots. It’s what keeps your site competitive as algorithms and search behaviours change — and they do change, frequently.
From your target keywords to which ranking signals hold more weight, it’s important to stay flexible, and in tune with your industry, your audience, and current SEO best practices.
Here are some extremely convincing stats about Internet use and search that back up the need to stay on top of your SEO strategy:
- More than 3.7 billion humans use the Internet (Forbes), and Internet usage has grown by 82% in the last four years (TNW)
- Websites on the first page of search results receive almost 95% of clicks (Screaming Frog)
- 50% of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones, and will grow to 70% by 2020 (Blue Corona)
- As of January 2018, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month (Alpine.AI)
- 90% of searchers haven’t made their mind up about a brand before starting their search (HubSpot)
- 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase (Google, 2016)
- Over 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product while conducting a search on their phone (Google, 2018)
Why Optimize for Different Search Engines?
As mentioned, Google is the most popular search engine in the world — but it’s not the only one. There are people out there searching for your product or service on other search engines.
Here’s a snapshot from a Forge and Smith client’s website. In this period, during which their site earned 52,116 organic sessions and 28,384 unique visitors via Google, this was their traffic from other search engines:
We can see that besides delivering almost 1500 visitors and over 2700 sessions to the website, Bing’s search traffic had great user engagement — low bounce rate, longer sessions, and more pages per session. In fact, all of these other search engines delivered great quality traffic.
Not every website will have traffic from so many different search engines. It’s important to look at your own website data to decide which search engines are worth adding to your own SEO strategy.
Dig deep into your audience stats with How to Use Google Analytics: 10 Tips to Harness Your Website Data.
Who is using which search engines?
Understanding your audience is always key to a successful digital strategy. Just like choosing social media platforms based on which ones your customers use, consider the factors that influence how and why people use each search engine.
This is a straightforward deciding factor. Google is the most popular search engine in most of the world, but some countries have Google blocked or don’t use it at all.
- Google is blocked in China; there, the most popular search engine is Baidu (66.29% of market share), followed by Shenma (14.36%) and Sogou (8.01%)
- Baidu is also one of the largest companies in the entire world, and has a suite of products similar to Google’s
- The number of people using the Internet in China is more than double the population of the U.S., so knowledge of their search engines and SEO best practices is highly valuable for many industries
- Google has reported that several of its mail and search services are being blocked in Russia; there, the most popular search engine is Yandex (52.87% of market share)
- Yandex is also widely used in many countries surrounding Russia, ex. Kazakhstan (17.94%), Ukraine (7.14%), and Turkey (4.71%)
Other search engines still get a considerable amount of traffic in countries where Google is the dominant resource:
- In the Czech Republic, web portal and search engine Seznam has 15.82% of market share
- In South Korea, web portals that double as search engines are also quite popular, like Naver (22%) and Daum (2.16%)
- Vietnam’s CocCoc, a combo browser and search engine, has 4.5% of market share
Bing and Yahoo are generally the next-most-popular search traffic leaders around the rest of the world. Their dominance differs from country to country.
- Yahoo is second to Google in countries like Japan (22.8%), Hong Kong (12.09%), Taiwan (10.95%), Georgia (3.71%), and Singapore (2.14%)
- Bing is second to Google in the United Kingdom (4.41%), Canada (3.78%), Australia (3.4%), France (3.16%), and South Africa (3.07%)
Industry and occupation can definitely impact which search engines someone chooses.
- Microsoft owns Bing and has partnered with HackerRank; Bing searches can feature snippets of code, making it more appealing to web and app developers
- Bing and Yahoo have previously reported earning almost 80% of all searches related to education, automotive, and telecommunications
Device, Browser & Game Console
From laptops to smartphones, devices play a huge part in which search engine people use.
- One third of searches done on PCs are done via Bing, the search engine for default browser Internet Explorer and voice assistant Cortana (MarketingProfs)
- Xbox gamers would use Bing by default, because it’s a Microsoft device that uses IE, whereas Playstation gamers would default to Google
- Android users doing voice searches would default to Google — they have to say “Ok, Google” to launch — and in 2017 Google replaced Bing as Siri’s search engine of choice
- The Firefox browser defaults to Yahoo, but offers other options
- Safari uses Google, although iOS devices allow you to choose your default search engine from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo
- The desktop vs. mobile search engine market share breakdown is Google-heavy, but split between Yahoo and Bing for second place:
- Desktop searches in North America: 85.43% Google, 8.36 Bing, 4.96 Yahoo
- Desktop searches worldwide: 89.12% Google, 4.25% Bing, 3.15% Yahoo
- Mobile searches in North America: 91.83% Google, 6.23% Yahoo, 1.3% Bing
- Mobile searches worldwide: 94.65% Google, 1.92% Yahoo, 1.04% Baidu
Privacy & Restrictions
With so many reports of data breaches, most people are paying much more attention to their online behaviour. Similarly, many companies lock down users’ ability to alter settings.
- DuckDuckGo has the highest market share of private search engines (0.33% worldwide, 0.65% in North America); it doesn’t track your data, and reports over 20 million searches per day
- StartPage calls itself “the world’s most private search engine” and searches Google on your behalf, while never storing any data about you
- Search engines that don’t track user data have a downside for local businesses: the user’s location data isn’t observed and factored into search results, so your SEO needs to rely on keywords the user might search to indicate their location
- Many companies opt to lock settings on individual machines or remote desktop configurations, to prevent data breaches and viruses; this information is particularly valuable to B2B businesses marketing to those likely to be doing searches on company machines during the work day
There are plenty of other factors that influence which search engine someone uses, like their age and tech savvy when it comes to changing default settings.
This article would be a novella if we described all of the SEO best practices for each search engine mentioned in the section above. You can easily find online resources that delve thoroughly into Baidu, Yandex, Naver, and more.
Because Bing and Yahoo are the runners-up for North American search traffic, we’ll explore them.
How are Bing and Yahoo SEO different from Google SEO?
Optimizing for these two search giants isn’t too different from your Google SEO strategy.
Actually, it’s more like one search giant — Yahoo has been powered by Bing since 2009, and their SEO best practices are quite similar.
Quick facts about Yahoo and Bing:
- Yahoo! Is powered by Bing, and is owned by Verizon
- Bing is owned by Microsoft
- As mentioned in the previous section, different devices and browsers default to each search engine:
- Google is the default for Android, Google, and Apple devices, and of course for the Chrome browser
- iOS devices allow users to switch default search engine within the settings
- Bing is the default search engine for Internet Explorer, the default browser for PC devices
- Siri uses Google for voice searches
- Alexa and Cortana use Bing for voice searches; you can specifically ask Alexa to search Google, which requires extra effort from Amazon device owners, a workaround that isn’t likely well-known or heavily used
- Firefox defaults to Yahoo, but offers other search engines as options
Now let’s look at some of the main differences, which can impact your SEO strategy.
Optimizing for Bing and Yahoo vs. Google
- Google uses latent semantic indexing; Bing’s algorithm is a little older, in that it’s more likely to match exact phrasing in short- and long-tail keywords
- Google places more emphasis on quality signals, and most SEO strategists agree that it puts little weight into title tags and meta descriptions; Bing loves titles, headings, and meta descriptions, which is probably why SEO tools like YOAST still factor these into content scores
- Google favours speedy page loads and text-based content, and can’t index Flash-based websites; Bing likes visual content and media-heavy sites, and can crawl video, audio, images, and Flash sites
- Google’s top results feature businesses with strongly performing websites that indicate a reputable brand; Bing is reported to favour small, local businesses near the searcher
- Both Google and Bing place high of value on backlinks to indicate site authority and trust; Bing is especially influenced by domain age and backlinks from .gov, .edu, and .org sites
- Google claims social media has little impact on ranking, although some sources indicate it uses social profile size and business details; Bing openly cites social signals as a factor in its rankings
You can find more helpful hints for Bing and Yahoo SEO best practices in their webmaster guidelines, although some of Yahoo’s links (ex. their Content Quality Guidelines) are broken:
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of why SEO practices beyond Google are important. Happy optimizing!