It often feels like the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is really just the world of Google. As the world’s largest search engine ecosystem with platforms such as Google Chrome’s browser and Android’s operating system, Google is the unquestioned leader in global search. Google captures as much as, and so it’s not surprising that they also take the lion’s share of SEO attention as well.
Marketing agencies and advertisers often tailor their client’s entire SEO strategy around Google’s algorithms, and even the slightest changes in its algorithms can cause waves in the world of SEO. But at the same time, just because Google is the main option in search, doesn’t make it the only option.
Nearly one of out every ten searches made on an alternative search engine. And while some may consider alternative search engines to be somewhat of a gimmick or niche market, the reality is that hundreds of millions of searches are made on these platforms every day. While the bulk of your SEO efforts should always be catered towards Google’s algorithms, understanding the background of alternative search can also benefit your business.
The World of Alternate Search Engines
First, it’s helpful to understand which alternative search market is best for your interests. The popularity of alternative search engines is generally boiled down to distinct communities, privacy-first users, and legacy search users.
For legacy search users who came out of the digital age before Google’s rapid rise in search, older platforms such as Yahoo or Microsoft’s Bing may still be preferred. While the two search engines have a low market share, that number can be deceptive. Microsoft’s Bing powers both Bing and Yahoo, meaning that optimizing for one can bring you results on both.
While Bing’s search algorithm is similar to Google’s, it is different in its reliance on machine learning to determine results. Whereas Google takes great effort to first understand the search query intent, Bing is more likely to have search engine crawling bots make assumptions about what the user is looking for.
Some other differences emerge on mobile friendliness, keyword phrasing, and social media. Google has a unique mobile-first indexing system, uses synonyms and context for keywords, and does not place emphasis on a site’s social media presence. Bing, on the other hand, does not rank mobile content first, uses exact keywords for its search queries, and places an emphasis on social media popularity and sharing when ranking content.
The Growth of Privacy-First Alternative Search Engine
Another recent trend in search is the growth of privacy-first search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Qwant. These platforms pride themselves on taking a strict view on user privacy and do not store user search histories and details and do not create profiles for each user. Because of this, their results cannot be as personalized as a result of Google. But their audience doesn’t seem to mind. Every year the market for privacy-first search engines continues to grow.
Because privacy-driven search engines do not record data from their users such as demographics or locations, SEO marketers need to optimize their content for specific locational keywords or cues to attract these users. Geo-qualifiers such as names of cities and locations for your business will help assist search engines with understanding the context of your content.
It’s also worth mentioning that DuckDuckGo, one of the largest privacy-first alternative search engines, pulls their results from Bing, meaning that optimizing for Bing could bring you additional search traffic. While the market for privacy-first platforms is still relatively low, it’s good to keep an eye on this emerging audience.
The Dynanmic Future of SEO
While it’s true that Google’s dominance of global search ensures that all SEO will cater to it first, future disruptions could necessitate a multi-platform approach to SEO. User concerns over privacy have grown in the last several years, and many digital users today will prefer to use alternative platforms to stay out of Google’s ecosystem. There is also the potential for governmental regulation that could affect Google’s ability to dominant search and the larger SEO environment.
Google is the king of search today, but that might not always be the case. After all, Google at one point was the young, upstart alternative search engine when it first arrived on the scene. As SEO grows more holistic over time, it will be valuable for marketers to reassess their future SEO strategy to factor in multiple platforms and alternatives.