Beyond Google: Performing on Bing and Yahoo

SEO_SearchEnginesA major event happened this past December that should have caught the attention of those tasked with handling SEO, whether for themselves or for clients, because it signals a potential shift in overall search share. Firefox, one of the most popular web browsers, signed a five-year deal with Yahoo to be the browser’s default search engine in the United States, replacing Google.

Google is far and away the most often used search engine online, with nearly 70% of all searches performed using Google. Second and third on the list are Bing, in the neighborhood of 20% of all searches, and Yahoo at about 7.5%.   Yahoo search, it is worth noting, is powered by Bing.

It’s going to be interesting to see how strongly this change in Firefox’s default search affects these numbers. The determining factor may be how many Firefox users go through the trouble of resetting their default search to Google versus those willing to just use the default.

What Does This Mean for SEO?

Google has traditionally been the standard search engine most folks use, so much so that its name has become the term used for searching for something online. “Let me Google that” has become a common phrase, and did I actually overhear a conversation recently where someone said they Googled something on Bing? Because of that overpowering presence, the vast majority of SEO work is done with the goal of having a site rank highly on Google and performance on other search engines is either expected to see lift as a side-effect or, honestly, ignored.

In truth, while there are many factors in Google’s search algorithms that are also factors for its competition, Bing (and Yahoo, by virtue of its association with Bing) has some search factors which differentiate it from Google. If you don’t already dedicate some of your SEO efforts to optimizing for Bing, you are potentially missing out on a growing segment of search traffic who may not find you as easily as the Google crowd does.

What’s Different?

A major point of difference between Google and Bing is apparent when it comes to local search. Bing is much more likely to favor results for smaller, independently-owned businesses, as its search is based on true proximity. Google, on the other hand, tends to favor bigger companies as online credibility is a factor – and mom-and-pop businesses often don’t have the resources available to devote to website copy updates and other important SEO tactics.

On the overall search front, surprisingly, Bing is the more conservative of the two, tending to deliver results based on factual relevance and source reliability, whereas Google puts more emphasis on content age. Sites with regularly updated content, engaged visits and active social media presence are more likely to appear in Google search.

How Do I Optimize for Bing?

Since Bing favors reliability and factual relevance, factors such as age of the website, copy that is direct and easy to find and referral links from other sites will result in higher positioning. Bing also trusts your friends: sites that have been rated or reviewed by those you are connected with on social media will be shown to you first, so maintaining an active “social life” is very important to Bing’s search algorithms. Make sure your title tags are simple, straightforward and directly relevant. Title tags are more important to Bing, so use your page’s main keyword in that tag.

Pay attention to your analytics, specifically which search engines are delivering traffic to your doorstep. If you notice that Bing and/or Yahoo is delivering a significant amount of traffic, you’ll definitely want to begin optimizing for them.

Where to Find Help

While it’s clear that smart marketers should seriously consider Bing and Yahoo in their overall search strategy, managing SEO tactics for multiple search engines require a serious commitment of time – both in ongoing education, implementation and analysis.

If you want more website traffic, mastering Google, Bing and Yahoo is necessary. For a FREE SEO Audit and recommendations that will help you improve your brand’s visibility in search results, start a conversation with Synapse today.

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