The prevalence of the search engine mammoth Google is so huge that it accounts for over 90% of the search engine usage here in Germany. It continues its monstrous domination of the industry throughout most other European countries and is especially common throughout North America.
Google is so powerful and prominent on the global scale that this household name has literally become a verb. To “google” something is now synonymous with running a search – it also has a catchy ring to it.
Have you ever heard someone say “I’m going to go Yahoo! that”. No, you haven’t. Nobody has.
Google Chrome is one of the most dominant web browsers and with its acquisition of YouTube in 2006, Google is pretty much running the Internet these days.
The king of search engines boasts an Alexa rank of 1, followed by YouTube – which is owned by Google – and then Facebook. Google’s international sites still rank impressively at number 7 in India, 10 in Japan, number 21 in Germany and 25 in France.
Just to put this into perspective – there are over 1.12 billion (that’s billion with a B) websites, with tens of thousands being created every single day.
This company has become so powerful that they’re no longer just an Internet company.
Google has presented the world with the Lunar XPRIZE, a 30 million dollar purse to the first team of engineers to land a spacecraft on the Moon, travel 500 meters and transmit data back to Earth.
Yes, a search engine is now breaking into space travel, devastating the world of professional Go with its ultra-advanced AI, pushing the limits of virtual reality devices and giving Apple a run for its money with its mobile technology.
Pretty cool, huh?
But as powerful as “The Goog” has become, it still isn’t the only major player on the field.
Particularly in East Asian countries and Russia, search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Naver and Yandex still give Google a run for its money – out performing it by a considerable rate in places such as China and South Korea.
The variations among these other search engines require that SEO experts adapt their content strategies to fit the quirks and complications that arise with the SERPs and evolution of these content discovery tools.
Yandex – Russia’s search engine superpower
If you’ve never heard of Yandex, you’re not alone. It’s not very well known outside of its native Russia, but its presence there cannot be understated and if the world’s largest country is your next business target, you need to listen up.
Yandex is the world’s 4th largest search provider and controls over 61% of searches in Russia and other prominent Russian speaking countries such as Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine as of the end of 2016.
Yandex’s primary calling card – as stated by the company itself – is to understand Russian inflection and grammar in order to provide a more accurate, user specific search experience.
This Russian search giant provides an array of services to rival those of Google including but not at all limited to its own map services, translator, mail system similar to gmail, electronic payment platform, public DNS, cloud storage and website analytics.
Its support for Russian language (and by extension Cyrillic) SEO exceeds that of Google.ru – which controls only about 28% of the Russian market – making Yandex optimization a must for SEO writers looking to target Russia.
One of the primary differences that writers need to be aware of is that Yandex does not offer a meta description in the same way that Google does. Instead, it presents a random passage from the text – an element that changes regularly and is a bit unpredictable by nature.
This will require those aspiring to optimize their sites to prepare all content with a suitable keyword density and maintain a high degree of relevance throughout.
Needless to say – Yandex is not to be messed with.
Baidu – China’s heavyweight
Much like Yandex, China’s premier search engine – Baidu – can claim the majority of the market share in China as well as the 4th place Alexa ranking worldwide after Facebook and ahead of Yahoo.com.
With a truly impressive array of services and products, Baidu resembles Google in many ways, sporting its own social media, wiki, music service, and a document sharing system comparable to Google Drive.
Unfortunately for many SEO personnel looking to break into the Chinese markets, playing the Baidu game is a little bit touchier than with other engines. While functionally very similar to Google, Baidu is riddled with state censorship that closely monitors and blocks an enormous portion of international sites and promotes certain state-run media in its place.
Inconvenient, but out of our hands.
When optimizing content for Baidu, it is advisable to ensure that your content adheres to the rules and regulations of the Chinese state.
Baidu is considerably behind Google in terms of AI capacity. With Google now focusing heavily on user experience and article quality, Baidu is still based primarily around pure link building, with less regard for quality or relevance. It has encountered controversy regarding its sales practices that some have said place money ahead of user experience.
That’s not to say that you should just stuff your content full of keywords and build absurd numbers of links to your content – it still looks shady and “black hat” SEO can still apply negatively. Whether the search engine sees this or not, your audience surely will.
It’s still important to keep in mind that many of Google’s “no-nos” aren’t as big a deal in China.
Likewise, meta keywords that Google may no longer always recognize are still a big deal with Baidu.
Much like Yandex, Baidu can boast much more comprehensive support for Chinese characters and grammar, optimizing such content much more effectively than Google. While this would naturally require an extensive reworking of projects such as Adwords or its Chinese advertising counterparts, it is well worth the effort.
Despite any of its cons, anyone looking to expand their online content or business into the Chinese market would do well to try to optimize for Baidu as much as possible. Just remember to keep it classy. Whether the search engine identifies your content’s quality or not – you’ve probably only got one chance to make a good impression on your visitors.
And that’s what matters anyway, right?
Bing – An underdog story
Bing doesn’t receive as much credit as it deserves.
Microsoft’s attempt at combatting Google’s dominance of the search engine playing field is admirable, if somewhat less successful than originally hoped.
Bing still manages to hold on to an extremely respectable 21% market share in the US, making it by far the 2nd most popular search engine in the States, ahead of Yahoo, Baidu and Yandex – combined.
There’s more – Yahoo!’s search engine is actually powered by Bing, further expanding its reach and capabilities – which means that if you optimize SEO, you’re optimizing for both! That places Bing at around one third of the American market share.
You may still notice slight discrepencies with SERPs when comparing Bing and Yahoo!, but that’s due to other factors such as Yahoo!’s own features like video or news platforms.
This underdog of a search engine should definitely not go without its due credit and luckily, optimizing content for Bing isn’t especially difficult.
When it comes to SEO, Bing is arguably the easiest system to optimize content for.
Bing is actually totally open about its search algorithms – unlike Google, which famously maintains its mysterious search secrets, forcing SEOs everywhere to scramble and constantly experiment with limited direction.
They actively encourage SEO and give advice on how best to build external links and optimize anchors.
Unlike Google, Bing isn’t messing around with semantics as much. Keywords are still king and tracking your rank is much easier with built in features such as Bing webmaster tools and other keyword research and SEO systems.
Remember meta keywords? Still good too.
According to this infographic from Moz, Bing doesn’t factor page load time into its SERPs – a significant difference from Google, which is all about promoting user experience and is known to penalize rankings due to slow load times – especially following its new mobile first indexing update.
So that’s kind of a big deal.
Furthermore – Siri has come to the 2016 macOS update – “Sierra” – and now runs searches via Bing.
Keep in mind: Bing is the search engine used by Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge (the successor to IE) so anyone who accesses the Internet through these browsers (hint: that’s a lot of people) is going to be using Bing. This also means that it’s going to increase as more and more people upgrade to Windows 10 and are saddled with Edge.
The funny part is that many of these IE and Edge users use Bing search to get to Google without even really realizing what they’re using. One of Bing’s most commonly searched keywords? Yep:
Still, anyone who doesn’t optimize for Bing is missing out an an earthshaking number of potential visitors and leads. It’s easy to forget about Microsoft’s deceptively powerful search engine, lurking there in Overlord Google’s shadow, but it’s there.
Don’t overlook it.
Google remains, for the immediate future, the reigning champion among search engines world wide – but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only thing that matters, or that it will stay that way forever.
There are still hundreds upon hundreds of millions of search queries that run through other search engines such as Baidu, Bing or Yandex and ignoring these markets would be a huge mistake for anyone optimizing a website for searches.
And they’re on the rise.
Emerging giants such as Bing are poised to take their place as true competitors to Google and the ramifications of this paradigm shift for SEO could be monumental.
I’m not saying that this will definitely happen – after all, Bing doesn’t have a space program or anything – yet – but it definitely doesn’t hurt to position yourself and your content in such a place as to reap the not inconsiderable benefits of these engines, and prepare for a possible future in which one or more of them reign above the rest.
What do you think will happen? Do you use or prefer any of Google’s competitors? Leave a comment with your thoughts!