When you hear the term “search engine”, I’ll bet the first company you think of is Google. It makes sense if you do – with nearly 6 billion searches every single day and over 2 trillion searches in 2013 alone, Google is pretty much a powerhouse.
So when the term “search engine optimization” is mentioned, it would make sense that most people assume that simply means optimizing one’s site for Google. While SEO is certainly about improving your site’s search results on Google, what about all those other sites like Bing and Yahoo?
They’re search engines too, aren’t they?
Because of the popularity of Google, many SEOs find themselves wondering if they should even bother with optimizing for Bing or Yahoo. I know I certainly have. Is optimizing for alternative search engines a waste of time? Or is optimizing for Bing and Yahoo paramount to a good SEO strategy? The short answer: Yes, you need to optimize for Bing and Yahoo.
Now here’s the long answer…
Why to Optimize for Bing and Yahoo
You might have been hoping that the answer to the above questions was no, it’s not important to optimize for anything but Google. It’s time consuming enough to optimize for just one search engine! But reason number one to optimize for Yahoo and Bing is so that you can save time in the long run.
Let’s say you’ve used all of your SEO efforts to optimize for Google and Google alone. You’re on the first or second page of results, right where you want to be. Now let’s pretend that something goes wrong – maybe Google’s algorithm changes and your site gets penalized and knocked off of page one into search engine oblivion. If you’ve spent all of your time optimizing for Google, say goodbye to any and all search engine traffic to your website!
So let’s step back to the beginning of this hypothetical situation and change things up a little bit. You optimize your site primarily for Google, while spending maybe 30% of your time optimizing for Bing and Yahoo. You’ve done enough good work that you’re on the first page for all three search engines. Now when Google changes their algorithm and knocks you off of their top search results, there’s still a chance that potential customers can find you when they search on Bing or Yahoo, which could be a godsend if most of your traffic comes from search results.
Short and sweet – don’t put all your eggs in one basket, because you never know when or how Google might discount all the hard work you’ve done.
Is Anyone Using Bing or Yahoo?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like the whole world is using Google and nothing else. After all, you never hear anyone ask you to “Bing” or “Yahoo” the answer to a question on the Internet. All that said, there are still a pretty significant number of people out there using alternative search engines. While Google had around 67% of Internet search engine market share in 2013, Yahoo and Bing combined had just shy of 29% market share, and that’s a lot of searches.
Who Is Using Yahoo and Bing?
Knowing the demographics of Yahoo and Bing users is key to developing an SEO strategy for these two search engines. When you know the faces behind the searches on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, you can create an SEO strategy that is tailor-made for your business. According to a great study by WebPageFX, political affiliations and education level may affect your search engine preferences.
If your target market is located in a specific part of the US, it’s important to know which search engines are popular where. Here’s what WebPageFX found as far as search engine trends by location:
Pretty interesting stuff, huh? Knowing what kinds of people are looking for what kinds of information on each search engine can be a great help in determining how to optimize differently for Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Optimizing for Bing/Yahoo vs. Google
If you’ve decided that it’s time to focus a little more attention on optimizing for Yahoo and Bing, here’s a bit of good news – Yahoo search is powered by Bing, meaning you only end up optimizing for one extra search engine rather than two. Another helpful fact is that Bing and Google’s algorithms are similar in many ways.
For example, optimizing URLs and domain names for keywords and having a large number of high-quality, dofollow backlinks are equally important to Bing/Yahoo and Google.
However, that’s pretty much where the similarities between the two search engines end. As far as the differences, here are the main ones to worry about:
While Google focuses on newer, commercial, or popular websites in its results, Bing tends to favor older websites with more official domain names such as .edu or .gov. What does all this mean? It means that Google is quick to offer up socially relevant sites whereas Bing is more likely to provide factually relevant information.
While Google has a hard time figuring out what to do about Flash media, Bing does a great job of indexing it, and offers extra credit for sites that use it.
Local searches on Bing and Google will often have much different results, with Google’s often swaying in favor of larger, more established companies and Bing being more likely to show small businesses. Why? Because when you search for local businesses on Bing, it assumes that you want the most proximal, which isn’t always the big box store in town. Google, however, gives you the most credible, which often is the larger business.
One of the things that sets Bing apart from Google the most is its approach to search by integrating social media. When searching on Bing, if a Facebook friend has recommended or rated the company or product mentioned in the search, the user can see it right away. Google hasn’t quite been able to integrate social media into their searches as well as Bing.
Google is much smarter than Bing when it comes to keywords. While Google is far more intuitive about the context of a page, Bing still relies heavily on keywords in page titles, meta tags, and on the page, which means that straightforward, specific keywords are the way to go for Bing SEO.
The Real Reason to Optimize for Bing and Yahoo
If you work with SEO, you know that the most important thing to optimize for isn’t Google, and it’s not Bing or Yahoo either – it’s the visitor. Ranking on the first page of any site is great, but if your site visitors aren’t interested in your website once you’ve drawn them there, then all your hard work was for nothing.
Once you’ve created a great, user-friendly website, you absolutely must optimize it for Google, Bing, and Yahoo so that your potential customers are given the opportunity to discover what you’ve created.
Originally published Jan 16, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016