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Yes, a SEO strategy beyond Google really matters

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Episode Overview

When it comes to search, we all know that Google is the Goliath. In this second podcast in Searchmetrics’ series for Non-Google Search Month, SEO strategist Jordan Koene and Ben Shapiro examine the importance of dividing and conquering the remaining search engines and why this can profoundly impact your business:

You’ll learn:

  • What is the inside story of Bing, Verizon, and Yahoo and how Bing connects Explorer and other Microsoft products with their search experience?
  • Why Google and Bing webmaster tools are table stakes, offering the data you need for free?
  • What is the biggest differentiator between Google and Bing and their crawling capabilities?
  • Does Google really know when you’ve been good or bad?
  • What is DuckDuckGo and their approach to privacy?
  • What is the personalization of search and how does that impact the results?

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Episode Transcript

 

Ben:                 Welcome to Non-Google Search month on the Voices of Search Podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, 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.

Ben:               In this week, we’re kicking off Non-Google Search month by publishing an episode everyday by discussing the history, status, and optimization strategies for Google’s biggest competitors.

Ben:                 Joining us for non-Google search week is Jordan Koene, who is a world renowned SEO strategist, and the CEO here at Searchmetrics. So far this week, we’ve discussed the history of search outside of Google, and today we’re going to discuss how to prioritize traditional web-based search for English-speaking, non-Google search engines.

Ben:                But before we hear from Jordan, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We’re an SEO and content-marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions.

Ben:                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.

Ben:                 Okay, on with the show, here is my conversation with Jordan Koene, the lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc.

Ben:                Jordan, welcome back to non-Google search week on the Voices of Search Podcast.

Jordan:             Hey man, looking forward to dive in here, and get into some of the overall strategies of the secondary market of search.

Ben:                 So we’re going totalk about that, a little bit about strategy, and prioritization. There’s a couple different ways that we can take this conversation, right? Non-Google search can be a very broad topic. Today, we’re going to focus specifically on Google’s most direct competitors and how you should prioritize them.

Ben:                We’re going to talk a little bit about Yahoo, a little bit about Bing, about some of the English-based search engines. So, give the landscape as it exists today, when you’re thinking about traditional web-based search, who are the biggest competitors and how big are they?

Jordan:             Obviously, we have the Goliath here, which is Google. They still own the majority of the market share, but when we go beyond that, we’ve got Bing, DuckDuckGo, and then from there, it’s kind of a collection of folks. Still prevalent is Yahoo, obviously, but that’s kind of where it starts to trail off. There’s a ton of other small, little search engines there, but the market shares zero essentially, so there’s really nothing that we can provide outside of those three major players in the English markets in particular to the US.

Ben:                 So give me some estimated numbers, I know you might not have them right in front of you, but  if Google is 85 to 95 percent of the market, how do you divide up the remaining somewhere between five and fifteen percent? Is Bing 75% of that, what’s the breakdown between Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo?

Jordan:             Yeah, so things start to really get pretty small outside of Google, but you’re looking at anywhere between a single digit or under single digit when you look at DuckDuckGos of the world and then Bing, largely due to their enablement efforts, because they connect Explorer and other Microsoft products with their search experience, they control somewhere between five percent up to ten percent of the market share of search.

Ben:                Where does Yahoo play into this? I know that Yahoo and Bing have a partnership, do we break those out as separate search engines? Are they really the same thing?

Jordan:            Yeah, so Yahoo plays into this picture in a unique way because they have this partnership with Bing. This partnership with Bing, now that they’re part of the bigger umbrella company of Verizon, is one where recently Verizon signed an agreement to extend the partnership to all Verizon properties and assets. So Bing, in essence, powers the Yahoo searches, and then a lot of the other AOL and other properties that the Verizon Media Conglomerate owns.

Ben:                 So essentially, we’re looking at,  if we say that Google owns 90% of the market, we understand that, depending on who you ask, there’s a five percent fluctuation there, Bing owns roughly 9% of the remaining share and DuckDuckGo and the other smaller competitors are 1%. So as you’re thinking about prioritizing non-Google search optimizations. When you’re advising Searchmetrics as clients, when do you get to the point where you start to think about non-Google search, are you working on that from the beginning and just taking advantage of duplicating your strategy from Google? Or is it actually a separate strategy that you’re working on?

Jordan:            Yeah, that’s a great question. So first thing is, out the gate, no matter how big, or how small you are, it really doesn’t matter, you should always, always, always have both the Google Webmaster tools set up in installation as well as a Bing Webmaster tools set up in installation. So, the capabilities to have the reporting, the diagnostics, and the details that you get out of these free tools is essential for any type of website, I don’t care how big or small you are, it’s just kind of like table stakes, you have to do it, and you just have to have the data available to you that these search engines provide to you for free.

Ben:                 Right. It’s essentially, think of it this way, it’s a 10% boost in performance just by setting up Webmaster tools on both Bing and on Google.

Jordan:             Yeah, it’s a generous number, but I think it’s also, it’s kind of great for folks to just know and understand what’s going on and that the worst thing that you can have is sitting in a meeting, or sitting in a conversation going, “Oh, I don’t know that number, I don’t know that data point.” And these tools will at least give you a basic level of knowledge around how much is your website being crawled, how many pages are being indexed, what’s happening with your website, are there errors or issues, so it just gives you that kind of basic knowledge you need to then go to the next level.

Ben:                Understanding that Bing is the major competitor in search to Google, what is the difference between the two platforms from a technical and setup perspective?

Jordan:             Yeah, the biggest differentiator that we recognize is the ability to crawl, so, how much and how pervasive can Google versus Bing crawl? Largely, we’re talking about the bigger sites now, right? We’re talking the sites that have tens of millions and even up to the billions of pages, what is the capability of Bing to maintain and collect and crawl, and identify what pages are most important. So, ultimately, that’s kind of the big differentiator that we see between Google and Bing, and the reality is that, in many cases, Google can just be benevolent, they just don’t care, and they’ll just keep crawling for the sake of knowing what’s happening on a particular page, where Bing just doesn’t have that luxury.

Ben:                This sounds like there’s a cost component, where Google, because search is so core to their business, can make the investment to crawl, essentially the whole web, and because Microsoft’s business is not primarily dependent on search, they’re basically taking a subset of what’s happening and not crawling as much. I’m assuming this is just purely a cost issue.

Jordan:            Exactly. It absolutely is a cost issue, and you’ll hear a lot of the Microsoft, Bing representatives, when they speak publicly, they’re always bringing up the cost component. “Hey, this is something that takes up a lot of money,” so there’s no doubt that the engineers that are working on this are very cost sensitive to the crawl, and what they have as a company available to the to execute those crawls.

Ben:                 Do you find when you’re looking at the difference between Bing and Google data that Google is much more accurate? Is there value out of crawling those extra pages or doing those extra crawls? Or is it just that Google is wanting more real-time understanding of what’s happening across the whole web?

Jordan:             That’s a tricky one, right? Strategically speaking, yes, there’s some value there. Now the value, I believe lies in the ability for Google to make decisions on their algorithm. I think that’s the big benefit right? So if you can confidently say that I’ve crawled a website and I know emphatically that they have,  maybe, over twenty or thirty percent of their pages without inventory, or without content or with this error issue, you can make a very decisive decision on how you evaluate the positioning and the value of that website. It’d be very hard for Bing to do that for some of the big, big websites out there.

Ben:                Essentially, Google is like Santa Claus, they know when you’ve been good or bad.

Jordan:            Exactly, and they definitely have a naughty list.

Ben:                Okay. So I understand that when you’re starting to build a search strategy, you want to set up, obviously, Google Webmaster tools, and you’re going to set up Bing as well, because they’re roughly ten-ish percent of the market to high single figures to low double figures. At what point do you need a website where you’re starting to think about other search engines? When do you start thinking about DuckDuckGo? Is it something you should prioritize?

Jordan:             So it depends on the nature of your business, so what industry you’re in, but typically you have to  be somewhere around, I’d say 25,000 to 100,000 in search visitors per month before you really start investing heavily in critical optimization strategies for Bing, and other search engines.

Jordan:            The reason that I set that traffic threshold, is that you’re just not going to see the material traffic lift that you want out of a Bing or a Yahoo through the efforts that you put forth. What I’m saying there is basically, “Hey, you have to have enough critical mass of content, that has good value, that has good user experience, that has good links,” that’s why I’m using that threshold of 25,000 to 100,000 visitors per month in order for you to then create the lift and momentum you want out of the secondary tier search engines like DuckDuckGo and Bing.

Ben:                When you’re thinking about the difference between all of the search engines and my understanding of DuckDuckGo is that it is a privacy centric search engine. My feeling about Bing is that the properties which they’re using to distribute their search products are legacy products, you know the AOLs, the Yahoos of the world, which tend to have a little bit of an older demographic. Do you think about customer segmentation as you’re putting together your search strategy on non-Google search sites?

Jordan:             You do, and I guess, if you want to kind of unpack this kind of legacy mentality that Bing and Yahoo might have, it’s predominantly focused on this concept that most of the search engines today try to do some form of personalization. Right? They try to see what are your behaviors, what are your patterns, and then thus try to serve you better results based off of that. And I think this is where we get into the very uniqueness of DuckDuckGo and where I believe their value ad is in the marketplace is that they don’t really use that personalization mentality, they just try to focus really on relevant results, and instant results that they believe have the best sort order aside from personalization. And so, if I’m a media company that has heavy traffic and I really want to get something recognized without having personalization being an influence, DuckDuckGo might be a good testing ground for me to see how that content performs organically based on the user link and other ranking factors that drive DuckDuckGo as opposed to say Bing or Google where biases of personalization are simply going to take place. And yes, your users are using those platforms, so you can’t just naively ignore them, but the reality is that you can learn a little bit about how your, say unique content, or maybe even your off-brand content might relate in a search world experience like DuckDuckGo.

Ben:                So it’s an interesting thing to think about when you’re looking at DuckDuckGo as a potential engine that you could be optimizing for, you’re saying that you could look at unpersonalized user experience to use it as a testing ground to see what changes you can make to your more personalized experience. Right? You can take your learnings from DuckDuckGo and apply them to the Bings and the Googles of the world.

Jordan:             That’s right. That’s right.

Ben:                Is there anything else that you think of when you’re putting together a search strategy or you’re thinking about when to start focusing on non-Google search?

Jordan:             It’s never too early to set foundation and have access to those Webmaster tools for all these platforms. Then secondarily, be judicious in where you invest your time in thinking of strategies for secondary tier search engines because ultimately it really does come down to the various efforts that we talk about in our podcast around user engagement, speed and performance, links and awareness. Those are drivers that will help you in any search engine, Google included. So if you’re doing those well, when you’re ready to start investing those strategies, and creating a strategy for secondary search engines, you’ll be well-positioned to find success.

Ben:                Yeah, my big takeaway here is that when you’re doing your initial search setup, if you’re putting together new sites, not a lot of effort to get your Webmaster tools for Bing, for DuckDuckGo set up, and collecting that data early on is going to give you more insights, which can be not only useful for optimizing those specific search engines, something we’re going to be talking about in our next episode, but also,  you could use the data from the non-Google search engines to figure out how you should be optimizing your most important search channel, which is going to be Google. So that wraps up this episode of The Voice is a Search Podcast, thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, the lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics.

Ben:                We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile on our shownotes, or you can contact him on Twitter where his handle is @jtkoene. If you have general marketing questions, or you want to talk about this podcast with me, you can find my contact information on our show notes, or you can send me a tweet @benjshap.

Ben:                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:                And if you like this podcast, you want a regular stream of SEO, and content marketing insights in podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss how you can optimize your traditional, English-based search efforts for non-Google search engines.

Ben:                 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.

Ben:                Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.