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Key SEO strategies for building your site traffic outside of Google search

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Episode Overview

Ten percent of the world’s search engines don’t begin with the letter G, and their search traffic can greatly impact your business. In this third podcast in Searchmetrics’ Non-Google Search Month series, SEO strategist Jordan Koene and Ben Shapiro delve into the meat and potatoes of non-Google search, focusing on Bing and others with strategies for prioritization and optimizing from the ground floor up:

Jordan and Ben cover:

  • How do you create a strategy that meets your business’s traffic requirements?
  • What are the fundamentals of working with Bing, including best practices for markups?
  • Why is it important to know which pages Bing is crawling and indexing, and why do certain URLs rank better than others?
  • What are the different strategies for engines that lack personalization and don’t use personal data like IP addresses such as DuckDuckGo?
  • How to revisit your localization strategy and develop content for DuckDuckGo?

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Episode Transcript

Ben:                            Welcome back to Non-Google Search Month on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this month we’re turning the spotlight onto how you can optimize your SEO efforts for some of the most important search engines that don’t start with the letter G. This week we’re kicking off Non-Google Search Month by publishing an episode every day discussing the history, status and optimization strategies of Google’s biggest competitors. Joining us for this week is Jordan Koene, who is a world renown SEO strategist and the CEO here at Searchmetrics. So far this week we’ve discussed the history of search outside of Google and how to prioritize English-based web search for non-Google search engines. Today Jordan and I are going to talk about how you can optimize your traditional web-based search for English speaking search engines.

Ben:                            Before we hear from Jordan, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a complimentary digital diagnostic, where a member of our digital strategies group will provide you with a consultation that reviews how your website content and SEO strategies can all be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to searchmetrics.com/diagnostic. Okay, on with the show. Here’s my conversation with Jordan Koene, the lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics, Inc. Jordan, welcome back to Non-Google Search week on the Voices of Search podcast.

Jordan:                       All right, this is going to be a fun, quick episode. We’re going to figure out exactly what to do with these non-Google sites.

Ben:                            Yeah. Let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road. We’ve talked about how Google became so prominent, a little bit about how big the other search engines are, and if Google owns 90% of the market in English speaking countries and the Bings of the world basically represent the next 10%, what do you do? How do you actually get your non-Google search to perform just as well as your Google search?

Jordan:                       Yeah, so always, again, we always have to start with the basics, getting webmaster tools set up in Bing, absolutely number one priority. Getting your site submitted through a site map is really the second critical component. I’d like to spend some time talking about that piece because that’s really where the meat and potatoes are, especially for these secondary search engines where they simply don’t have the bandwidth to crawl every single page on every single website, especially the big ones.

Ben:                            Okay. Go on. Tell me about the site maps. How are you submitting those for non-Google search engines?

Jordan:                       Yeah, so the first thing is really rethinking how you look at prioritization of your content. Creating a prioritization strategy that fits your business’s expectations of traffic from a search engine like Bing is absolutely critical. The first realization is going into your historical logs and seeing how often Bing is hitting your site. What’s the frequency? What’s the volume there? You can often create a lift in the amount of crawl that takes place, but that is largely predetermined by the quality and the usefulness of the content that you’re submitting based on user engagement. It’s really critical for you to think about, hey, what do you already know about your content? What is the content that works really, really well? Then get that into your site map so that Bing is constantly crawling those pages and you’re showcasing high quality user engagement so that Bing will then crawl more of your site.

Ben:                            How is that process any different than what’s happening on Google or is it basically just a direct copy of what you’re doing with Google?

Jordan:                       That’s the interesting piece. I actually think that in many ways Bing can help dictate a strong discipline behind sitemap creation and evolution over time, because you’re dealing within a much more constrained environment with Bing. I’ve never heard of a website, with the exception of the ones that are blocking themselves from Google, let’s just take that off the table, that has come to us here at Searchmetrics and said, “Hey, Bing is crawling my website more than Google.” That’s never happened. In the five years I’ve worked at Searchmetrics, in the 15 years that I’ve been in the search industry, that’s just never happened.

Jordan:                       I don’t anticipate that it ever will because that’s just not where Bing’s mindset is at. They’re not in that race to crawl the entirety of the internet. The reality is that knowing that you then have to become very judicious because the one thing that I can tell our listeners is that if you can prioritize high engagement content and secured it in the crawl, you can expect good traffic from Bing. I’ve seen a lot of success stories of sites who work on that cleanup effort and ensure that they’ve got the right pages prioritized, submit those to Bing, and suddenly they’re seeing really positive results.

Ben:                            Step number one is because Bing is not going to be crawling the entire web, they are likely not going to be crawling your entire site. What you feed to them is going to be important. If you’re showing them and you’re putting your best foot forward and feeding them pages that are likely to be performant, they’re going to invest more time into crawling the rest of your site.

Jordan:                       Exactly. That’s precisely tactic number one is ensure and reiterate and improve your sitemaps as this is a primary tool for prioritization within Bing.

Ben:                            Okay. What do you do once you have your sitemap submitted and you’re feeding your site to Bing, and hopefully they are crawling not only the pages that you’re submitting, but the entire site? Where do you go from there? Are there any optimization strategies to get Bing to rank higher that might be different than Google?

Jordan:                       We’re not going to dive into all the different tactics that we’ve shared in the past around user engagement, back links, because we’ve already done those. We have episodes that drive into those, but specifically for Bing here, one of the things that you should really be thoughtful of is how you’re leveraging markup. Markup becomes your second-best friend once you’re getting traffic from Bing as this allows you to secure more site links within Bing. It allows Bing to become more creative in their featuring of your content within, say, their elements like Answer Box and others. There is a true connection between how you leverage different markup and then the proliferation or growth of your footprint within the syrup with Bing. Again, I don’t want to beat this down too many times, but you have to have all the other KPIs working for you first. It’s not like, hey, if I just do this, suddenly it’ll work. If people aren’t visiting your website and getting any value out of it, it doesn’t matter how much markup you put on it. It doesn’t matter how big or small your site map is. It’s not going to do anything.

Ben:                            What I’m hearing is that markup is, relatively speaking, more important on Bing than it is on Google.

Jordan:                       I wouldn’t go that far. I think that they’re equally valuable. It’s just that often times you can learn a lot of optimization tactics within Bing that you may be overlooking because of your markup investments with Google. There are just differences in nuance, I guess, is maybe one way of looking at it, or as I like to tell my wife, we have stylistic differences. Those stylistic differences come into play when it comes to things like markup because it is a very specific data point that then needs to be consumed and used by Google or by Bing and then served to users in their own experience. Google’s or Bing’s own experience is going to serve that.

Ben:                            I can’t leave this one alone. Is the stylistic difference that you didn’t take out the trash?

Jordan:                       Yep, or that I purchased the wrong brand of a product.

Ben:                            Understood, understood. Okay. Getting back to the topic at hand, you have to get your sitemaps submitted. You’re going to use some markup to make sure that the Bings of the world understand how your site is structured. Any other optimization techniques that you recommend to get your site to perform on Bing and other search engines?

Jordan:                       Yeah, so speaking of DuckDuckGo, because I know that this is a popular topic when we’re looking at search engines outside of Google, one of the things that you have to be really mindful of here and most folks don’t realize, is the lack of personalization and utilization of personal data like IP addresses in serving content within DuckDuckGo. Think Google, Google is going to look at your IP address. They’re going to realize that you’re not in San Francisco and you’re in Dallas, Texas, and they’re going to show you different search results when you’re traveling to Dallas, Texas. That doesn’t happen on DuckDuckGo. It’s really important that you revisit your localization strategy and how you produce or structure content in a local fashion for DuckDuckGo. If you’re going to make a strategic investment in that search engine, this is something you just have to do because both require users to be very detailed in their search query. Then ultimately, you’re going to have to have content that services that very specific location-based query.

Ben:                            Why is the location important for DuckDuckGo as opposed to other search engines?

Jordan:                       Well, you know the …again, this is a highly debated topic. I mean, this is both debated from the use case of the user, which is all of us, and it’s also debated from the use case of the efficacy from a legal and …

Ben:                            Privacy perspective.

Jordan:                       … regulatory and privacy perspective, yep, but ultimately like this is just a strategic position that DuckDuckGo has taken as a company. The reality is that this is kind of like an ease of use, quote unquote. I want to be very careful how I use that. I do have air quotes going on right now. Ease of use that has been adopted by other search engines, Google, Bing notably, where, hey, you know what, I’m just going to see where you are. I’m going to see what your phone is telling me or your computer’s telling me about your IP and make a decision to serve you content based on that consumed knowledge about you as a user. That’s the way that they approach solving that problem and DuckDuckGo doesn’t. I think it’s a unique conversation around privacy that’s separate from the tactics of SEO for DuckDuckGo, but if you’re going to make DuckDuckGo a strategic partner in your search efforts, you just have to be mindful that they’re playing without those private data points about the user.

Ben:                            As you think about other optimization strategies and tactics, one thing that occurs to me is that you can get some valuable data from these other search engines that can impact how you think about optimizing for Google. What’s a way that you could use the other search engines to make sure that you’re making the most out of the 90% market share that Google has?

Jordan:                       I think one of the most underrated tasks as SEOs is looking at what is working in Bing. What pages is Bing crawling frequently? What pages are being indexing frequently? Why are certain URLs ranking better in Bing than others? Mapping that data to your Google data is just such an underappreciated task and should be utilized more frequently to lift your exposure in both search engines and in all of search and in all of user experience. That’s one of the things that I think is super valuable. I mean there’s a lot of mythology, let’s just call it, in the search world, where there are correlations between what happens in Bing and then how Google behaves. There’s all these different KPIs and metrics between the two search engines, but I mean at the end of the day, if there’s something that’s having a lot of success in Bing and you’re not seeing that replicate in Google and vice versa, why aren’t you asking yourself questions of why?

Jordan:                       I think that that’s just an important task that if anyone can take that away and use that in a variety of ways to improve your user experience, the exposure to your sites, the way you interlink and connect your content, I hope that that becomes a more sought after practice because although these search engines are different, they’re ultimately trying to solve the same question which is, how do we create value for digital users? Those digital users demand content. They want to access your content. What is the expectation that those users are setting through these search engines? How can you learn and grasp those elements to improve not only your overall presence and performance but the value that you create to those users?

Ben:                            I think just to summarize, the biggest thing to think about when you’re optimizing for adding on non-Google search engines to your strategy is first and foremost make sure that the smaller search engines are crawling the highest priority pages that you have. Since the Bings of the worlds and the DuckDuckGos and even smaller search engines don’t have the budgets for crawl that Google does, they’re not going to get through your entire site most likely unless you show them that it’s going to be a worthwhile investment in budget. Prioritizing your site map to make sure that they understand the value of your highest priority content is going to be step one.

Ben:                            The second step is going to be using your markup language to make sure that the non-Google search engines are able to understand the format of your website so they’re able to pluck out the best content and use it in their other experiences, like your Answer Box and the other things that are more at the top of the page, so you can take on more real estate. The last thing is as you’re thinking about taking the data from other search engines, you can start to use that to evaluate how you’re performing in Google. If you’re seeing something that performs very well in Bing, a certain segment of your site, a certain high priority page, and it’s not being prioritized or not performing as well in Google, it might be worth looking into that page to understand what’s the reason why you’re not seeing that value across all of the sites. Jordan, any last words on optimizing your non-Google search strategy?

Jordan:                       No, I think really the last piece is that test and experimentation element and learning how to leverage data across search engines to better serve users.

Ben:                            Okay, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, the lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics, Inc. We’d love to continue this conversation with you. If you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes or you can send him a tweet where his Twitter handle is JTKoene. If you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to talk about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet at BenjShap. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic, online visibility or to gain competitive insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/diagnostic for your complimentary advisory session with our digital strategies team.

Ben:                            If you liked this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss how to make an impact with geographic specific search engines. Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Okay. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.