When it comes to SEO and getting traffic, the majority of people automatically think of Google. No wonder when the official word for “searching something on the Internet” contains its very name.
With more than 50,000 searches per second, Google is definitely the king of search engines. So, from an SEO perspective it makes total sense to set up your site to please them.
However, that doesn’t mean it is the only traffic source worth optimizing for. Believe it or not, there are alternative search engines that can also bring masses of visitors to your site. And I am talking millions.
Hard to imagine? Well, in this article we will shed a light on search engine alternatives to Google and discuss how you can improve your ranking on them.
Why Optimize For Alternative Search Engines?
The obvious answer: Less competition.
You are probably aware that you’re not the only person trying to score pole positions on Google.
That means the probability that others out there are aiming for the same keywords is pretty high. Consequently, more time and effort is needed in order to beat them.
With alternative search engines, the situation can be dramatically different. With less competition, it gets much easier to achieve top rankings.
Plus, diversification of your traffic sources is a good idea in general.
Imagine losing all your incoming traffic from one day to the next because of an algorithm change or because you got penalized by Google. Like the thought? Because it’s happened before.
By not putting all your eggs in one basket, you make sure losing Google as your primary traffic source doesn’t result in a complete disaster.
Plus, more and more people are becoming conscious of their online privacy. As a consequence, fringe search engines that offer private search are seeing a huge influx in monthly visitors.
Convinced? Then let’s see what the alternatives are.
So, Who Else Is Out There?
Alternative search engines for different purposes exist in droves. Some of them handle billions of search queries. In the following I will introduce a few of the biggest and how to rank well on there.
Conceptualized as Microsoft’s alternative to Google, Bing boasts about 20% of the US search market. Don’t be fooled by the low number. That still means more than 3.5 billion searches per month!
Bing also powers Yahoo’s search which is another 2.2 billion monthly search requests. Both services together control about a third of the US search market.
In addition to that, Bing recently struck a deal to be the default Firefox search engine in the US which should give it an additional boost.
Twitter is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of search engines. Yet, many of its nearly 300 million users scour it for information on trending topics and other areas of interest.
As a result, the platform deals with 2.1 billion search engine queries per day.
Facebook is the biggest social media site by far and gets 1 billion daily hits from search engines.
Its internal search is also constantly used for finding reviews, deals, and opening hours of local businesses. Therefore, if you are one of them, there is no way around optimizing your presence for this search tool.
LinkedIn as a professional network is a great place to market yourself as a freelancer or service provider. Many of its almost 400 million users actively look for companies to work with and people to hire.
If it is your goal to bring in clients and customers, you’d do well to optimize your discoverability here.
G+ is Google’s own social network and answer to Facebook. Though it has nowhere near the kind of numbers its competitor commands, 300 million monthly active users is nothing to scoff at.
Plus, with Google behind it, the network comes with a sophisticated search function that many people use to find stuff that is relevant to them, so why shouldn’t they find you?
With three billion search queries per month, YouTube is sometimes called the second largest search engine in the world.
It has more than one billion users. That’s as if one third of all Internet users were signed up to this one platform. Plus, with 76 different language versions, YouTube covers 95% of the Internet population.
Most importantly, though, not only can you generate traffic from inside YouTube itself, with Google owning the service, videos from here (unsurprisingly) tend to do well in the SERPs.
Although you might not have heard the name before, DuckDuckGo is one of the fastest growing alternative search engines on the web. In Sept. 2015 alone, the service dealt with almost 600 million searches — that’s a whooping 20 million per day!
Its success is mainly due to strict privacy guidelines. In contrast to other search platforms, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track or save data on its users.
The service also recently made waves as it was included in iOS 8 as one of the standard search options and Firefox followed suit. Way to go DDG!
Ranking Strategies For Google’s Competitors
Alright, now let’s get to the important part: How to rank well on these services. Strategies differ from platform to platform but don’t worry, we will go over each in detail.
Microsoft’s search engine appears to value age domain. So if you are just starting out and want to score well on Bing, you might want to look into buying an established one.
Aside from that, the search service also favors official domain endings like .gov or .edu.
Just like in Google, you can submit your site to Bing to ensure proper indexing. However, their index is not updated as often so you might still have to wait a while.
Don’t forget to sign up to Bing Webmaster Tools and submit a sitemap. Shoutmeloud has a good guide for that. You can also achieve the same via Yoast SEO.
If you still don’t show up in the index, the help section has some tips on identifying problems — from fetching your site as Bingbot, to checking robots.txt and meta tags for noindex settings.
Aside from that, it’s important to get your site to load fast which shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you need pointers, I have written an article on that topic earlier.
Next up are title tags. These are more important to optimize for Bing than Google since the former will change title tags according to search queries. You heard that right, so pay attention.
When it comes to keywords, Bing doesn’t care too much about broad-match.
It’s more important that you use verbatim keywords and place them in your H1, H2 and title tags, meta description, and intro paragraph. As usual, avoid keyword stuffing!
Bing has a keyword tool integrated in its Webmaster Tools.
Your content should be “clear, deep and easy to find” as well as unique. No overabundance of keywords either. Nothing new here.
Among the most relevant signals for Microsoft’s service are backlinks. The motto here is quality before quantity. Paying attention to the anchor text, on the other hand, is not as much of a big deal as in Google.
However, Bing cares about social signals more strongly and directly than its big brother.
For example, if one of your Facebook friends recommends an article in the search results, you will see it. So beat the social drum!
You can find more differences between Google and Bing here.
This microblogging platform is mainly used for two things:
- Finding trending topics
- Following hashtags
Twitter is one of the best ways to find topics that are blowing up online as evidenced by its sidebar which is strictly reserved for trending hashtags.
Since Twitter orders its search results by recency, you can get your tweets in front of a lot of people regardless of your own follower number by jumping on the bandwagon.
If you mention a trending topic or hashtag in your tweet, you can get noticed by those who follow that topic. Some of them will start following you, making it easier to get them onto your site later.
However, be cautious to make it relevant to you niche or industry and that you understand the background, otherwise you might create a social media fail instead.
Hashtags in general are a good way to get more eyeballs on your tweets. Many people use them to find information on topics they are interested in.
Use hashtagify.me to find tags related to your niche. Attach about 1-3 relevant ones per tweet.
However, since the average lifespan of a tweet isn’t very long — especially for popular topics and hashtags — it’s important to publish regularly.
Social media scheduling tools like Buffer can help you with that.
Ranking a page on Facebook depends on three main factors: Reviews, likes, and location. While the first two are important for conversion (for human visitors), Facebook itself puts the most importance on the latter.
Therefore, you should include not only you keyword/business inside your page name but also your location — for example, “Musashi Sushi House New York.”
You can include long-tail keywords as well like, “-The Best Vegan Sushi in Town” and include keywords in your mission statement and description. That should give your rankings a bump.
Non-local businesses can take advantage of Facebook groups with two different strategies:
- Join an existing, high-ranking group, actively participate, and occasionally drop links.
- Create your own group and get it to rank well.
For the latter, you can start a group or page around your niche or interest, post interesting content to build an audience and link to your own website every now and again.
Make sure to include keywords in everything you publish to make your group more relevant for Facebook’s search. Focus on long-tail and less broad keywords, since the platform’s algorithm is not as sophisticated.
Also, don’t forget to put a link to your website and keywords in the group description!
It will take a while to get members (Facebook cares more about numbers than quality of engagement), but once you have them, you can lean back and reap the results.
When trying to be found on LinkedIn, it is important to optimize your profile for congruency. There is no need to list your time working in a movie theater in college when trying to get marketing clients.
Apart from that, make sure you fill all available information to optimize your page for conversion. Tips for an optimized profile can be found here.
When it comes to findability, LinkedIn is all about keywords. This is evidenced by the fact that when you search the platform, your search queries are bolded on other people’s profiles.
For that reason you should make sure the keywords (i.e. job position or service) you want to be found for show up in all the important places:
- Job description
- Current job title
- Past job titles
Another ranking factor are connections. The more closely you are connected to the person searching, the higher you will show up in the results.
For that reason it’s crucial to actively build your network and establish new relationships.
One of the most economical ways to do so is to go for influencers who have lots of connections. This increases your chances of being found.
Alternatively or in addition, you can also target people who would be interested in hiring you directly. Think about the job description of someone with an interest in working with you and make an effort to connect with them.
When searching Google+, the results will be given in the form of people, pages, and recent posts.
Your main focus should be posts. Therefore, it is important that you mention your keyword in the description of things you publish.
When posting links, the title and description will also be displayed and it’s a good idea to include keywords here as well.
Like Twitter, Google+ operates with hashtags. Add some that are relevant to your industry to your content.
The platform makes them really easy to find. Just click on a hashtag and Google+ will show you everything it can find for it and also suggest more that are related.
While time is important for ranking, G+ also factors in popularity in the form of plus ones (the Google “like”) or re-shares. Unfortunately, you have to grow your network first to earn engagement.
Tapping into YouTube as a traffic source requires the right keywords. Not only do you need to factor in what works on the platform itself but also how Google picks the videos that appear on top of the search results.
Good video keywords are:
- How-to keywords
- Anything fitness or sports related
- Funny videos
While technology has come a long way, computers still have a hard time understanding what is going on in a video. For that reason, you need to include your keyword in the title and the description, so search engines know what it is about.
How well you are doing on YouTube itself is depended on the quality and appeal of your video. The streaming platform ranks videos by how far people will watch, subscriber numbers, views, likes and other popularity factors.
Comments under your videos are a good way to find out how they could be further improved. Also, don’t forget to include a link to your site so that you get actual traffic from here.
For a detailed guide on how to optimize videos for YouTube search, check out the Backlinko article.
The algorithm of this new kid on the block is not as sophisticated as Google and its 200 ranking factors. Plus, since it only recently started taking off, nobody has put too much time into testing yet.
However, it appears that many of the established best practices apply.
Getting high-quality links is an important thing as is focusing on top-notch content (the two go hand in hand anyway). Also, DDG uses contextual search and tries to figure out user intent, therefore semantic keywords are important.
DuckDuckGo also does local search. However, since it only roughly determines your location, you are well advised to include geo-targeted keywords so it’s easier for users to hit you with a search query.
Plus, keep in mind that this search engine is part of iOS 8 and there’s, therefore, a good chance it will bring you mobile traffic. For that reason, a good mobile experience is mandatory to keep your bounce rate low.
Conclusion: There Is More To Traffic Than Google
As you can see from the above, lots of search traffic exists outside of Google. Alternative search engines and social networks have the potential to bring in visitors, subscribers, and leads in the billions.
Diversifying your traffic sources will keep you safe from algorithm changes and limit your dependence on a single service or company. It also lets you tap into unused traffic sources and position yourself in underrepresented niches.
However, you don’t have to be present on all of them, don’t worry. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Not all of the above services will fit your business or strategy, only some of them will.
Concentrate on what makes sense, try out some stuff, track your results and see what works. You won’t regret it.
What strategies have worked for you to bring in traffic outside of Google? Please share in the comments.
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