Optimize For the Other 1/3

By David Veldt - 04/18/2013

We're going to play a little word association game. I'm going to give you a list of words and you are going to shout the first thing that comes into your head. If you're in a public place or crowded office, I encourage you to set up a camera and record the reactions around you for my entertainment.

Okay, here we go:

[bra_list style='arrow-list']

  • Peanut Butter
  • Peas
  • Horse
  • Search Engine

[/bra_list]

What were your answers? If you're wondering where I got the first three words from, I just typed "goes together like " into Google...

Google - Goes together like

Seriously? Peanut butter and...ladies? Uh, moving on...

So, what did you answer in response to "Search Engine?" Chances are, you thought "Google" (unless you're an industry nerd like me who thinks "Optimization"). Recent comScore numbers certainly reiterate this association, reporting Google's 67.5% search share in February.

Google Bing Organic Search Share Chart

In other words, approximately 1/3 of internet searches come from other search engines. Yet, when we talk about search engine optimization or searchers themselves, we usually say "I want to be #1 in Google" or "People searching Google..."

There's nothing necessarily wrong with this. We're still talking about the strong majority of searchers and typically, implementing best practices and strategies for Google will help your performance in other engines as well. However, are you paying attention to what's happening in these other engines? How well are they indexing your site? How do your high priority keywords rank outside of Google?

We all pay close attention to Google Webmaster Tools, but have you verified your site in Bing's Webmaster Center? Are you aware of the amazing tools they've rolled out within the past 6 months? According to the above chart, "Microsoft Sites" hold a 16.7% search share, while "Yahoo! Sites" take up 11.6%. However, were you aware that Bing powers Yahoo's search results, so getting your ducks in a row in Bing have a "Two birds, one stone" impact?

The fact of the matter is that spending time analyzing other search engine performance---the other 1/3, that is---can do much more for your traffic than many of the SEO activities you were planning. In other words, you've already done (hopefully) significant SEO work, so sometimes the best use of your time is making sure you're getting credit for it across all search engines.

Spend Money on the other 1/3

But wait, there's more. If you are engaged in a pay per click advertising strategy, are you looking at the opportunities that exist outside of Google? There's plenty of clicks waiting for you in Bing and oftentimes you can get these clicks for a fraction of the cost. In my personal experience, I've seen Bing campaigns drive far more traffic---and sometimes, more qualified traffic---on the same budget as Google AdWords.

Things won't always be that way, however, as more advertisers are catching on. As reported by today's State of Paid Search report, Bing's share of advertiser spend grew to 21% in Q1 2013, up 3% from the previous year.

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It's not an accident that Google has grown synonymous with "search engine" and has even become a verb (no, I still will not "Bing it"). It's also not bad that when reviewing our sites we tend to think like Googlebot, because let's face it, they are at the forefront of the industry and much of the competition is based off of what they've done.

However, we should not assume that just because we're performing well in Google that the same thing is occurring across all search engines. In fact, at the time of this writing, one of our sites has over 2,000 pages indexed in Google and less than 70 in Bing. Organic traffic growth has been phenomenal, but I can only imagine what will happen once we get Bing to index the rest (long story, stay tuned for a more in-depth post on that subject).

How are your sites being indexed and ranked  by other engines? Have you noticed any differences and if so, how is that reflected on your traffic reports?

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