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Remember when you first started your business and it just felt so small? Your family, friends, and a few supportive co-workers were your first clients and maybe your first — and only, for a while — investors. Now, remember that feeling when you realized that your business could reach and benefit a far wider audience? It changed the way you did business for the better. We’ve got good news for you: You’re going to have a feeling like that today.
Using Google has been great for your brand’s visibility, and you’ve so far felt comfortable with an SEO strategy centered primarily on only that search engine. But what business went far only doing what made it comfortable? Just like expanding your audience at the beginning of your business changed everything, expanding your SEO strategy to incorporate search engines other than Google will take your marketing to the next level. Here’s how SEO differs across search engines.
Google often seems like it has a monopoly when it comes to search engines. Google sure has its strengths, but it’s not infallible, and believe it or not, it may not even be the best search engine to focus your SEO around. Remember what your mom said: Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean that you should.
Time to meet the competition. Bing and Yahoo — we’re grouping them together because Bing owns Yahoo and both engines produce the same results — have somehow garnered quite the handful of negative stereotypes, which is probably what has landed Google its spot at the top of the totem pole. Forget everything you’ve heard about Bing and Yahoo because 30 percent of the market doesn’t care about those stereotypes. That’s right. Thirty percent of searchers focus the majority of their information hunts on Bing and Yahoo.
That may not initially sound like a huge chunk, but it becomes significant when you focus your efforts where so many others refuse to do the same. While everyone’s focusing their SEO strategy solely on Google, optimizing your SEO for Bing and Yahoo as well will easily put you ahead of the competition.
Many of the SEO strategies between Google, Bing, and Yahoo are similar, but it’s the differences that make adding these search engines to your repertoire worthwhile. Before getting into these strategies, it’s also worthwhile to note that this isn’t about which search engine is better; it’s about which will work best for your brand.
First, let’s take a look at the search engine algorithms themselves. Google algorithms are constantly evolving and adjusting to changing demands and shifting search habits. While this may keep Google up-to-date, it also forces SEO strategists to constantly adapt to the updated algorithms. Bing and Yahoo, on the other hand, won’t always force you to adapt. That’s not to say that Bing doesn’t keep itself updated, it just won’t shift things too often.
SEO strategy is all about learning how to play the game. You may have grown up being taught not to please everyone, but that’s exactly what you try to do with SEO strategy. If you want your site to rank high on a search engine, you need to tailor your content and website to what the engine gives priority. For example, while Google gives a higher rank to sites that are more socially relevant, Bing cares more about the facts and will give priority to factually relevant sites over more popular ones.
That being said, Bing also puts more emphasis on social media signals by displaying if Facebook friends or Twitter followers have recommended or rated the company or product searchers are looking for. And while Google tends to give rating priority to more established businesses, Bing actually tends to give favor to smaller businesses. So if your company is still on the rise and you feel like you can’t compete with the more established companies on Google, Bing is well worth your consideration.
While Google seems to have a hard time interpreting websites that use Flash, Bing actually rewards websites that have more pictures, videos, and audio, and it can more adequately interpret Flash. If you’ve tailored your websites to Google and avoided Flash, adding that digital media and using Bing will help you get the SEO rank you deserve.
Keywords are one of the key factors of SEO. It used to be that all search engines gave rank to sites that used precise, word-for-word keywords. Today, however, Google recognizes synonyms of keywords and takes the context into account while Bing still relies on exact keywords. In cases of double-meaning search queries, Google gives the higher rank to the more popular website while Bing gives the rank to local results, which could again benefit those smaller businesses.
Image via Flickr by Bram.Koster
You can use the ways that Google and Bing differ in their ranking of websites to your advantage. It’s not as much about which engine is best for you as it is about how you can integrate both into a strategy that will help your website get on the map. Google may be tried and true, but if your business is still budding, Bing will be friendlier to you. That doesn’t mean you should embrace one engine and neglect the other.
The challenge lies in how you’re going to make both search engines work for you. Evidently, since different search engines give priority to different factors, you may need to adjust content for it to have priority on both engines. For example, use a combination of word-for-word keywords as well as synonyms and context. Use plenty of digital media, but try to make it work without Flash, so both engines can give it a high rank. Draw in those 30 percent of searchers using Bing, but keep working to raise your rank on Google.
SEO strategy is a puzzle. You can make search engines and content fit snugly together when you tailor content to be relevant to search engine algorithms.