Best SEO Practices for Alternative Search Engines
You are more than your Google search rank position. Is it strange hearing that from an SEO agency? Possibly, but a holistic approach to optimization beats tunnel vision every time. Yes, Google is still the search behemoth that gets the most attention. After all, the platform commands a whopping 63.9% share of all searches performed in the US. That’s a whole lot of traffic, but it’s down from a 67% share in November 2014.
As for Google’s competitors, they’d love to become your next search engine of choice. A few years ago that notion would seem farfetched, but today? This idea doesn’t take much stretch of the imagination. The mobile revolution has fundamentally shifted the way people search on the Internet. Google is doing everything it can to stay at the forefront of a growing mobile world, but changes in consumer behavior open new opportunities for other search engines and social media companies. So how do you take advantage of an increasingly diverse field of search platforms?
Optimizing for Bing/Yahoo
Challengers like Bing and Yahoo are gaining ground, albeit very slowly. Together they make up about one third of traditional search traffic. In just over a year, Microsoft’s share grew by 1.5% and Yahoo gained 2.2%. Interestingly, certain demographics are more likely to use Bing or Yahoo than others. Google still has a lead in every state, but parts of the Midwest and South are more likely to use alternative search engines than other regions. What’s more, Bing positively correlates with Republicans and Yahoo users are more likely to attend church. If your business has customers in Red States, you may want to take these platforms more seriously.
Since Bing now powers Yahoo Search, optimizing for one automatically helps the other. Many of Google’s best practices apply to SEO for Bing, but there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Bing emphasizes the age of a website’s domain.
- You must index a site with Bing to be listed in search results.
- Bing Webmaster tools allow owners to create a sitemap for better indexing.
- txt controls where Bingbots can and cannot go on your site. Make sure it’s not blocked.
- Bing prefers permanent 301 redirects.
- Title tags are more important with Bing than Google. Avoid generic titles such as “Home” or “Contact”.
- Exact keywords are more important with Bing. Broad-matching keywords don’t perform as well.
- Keywords should be in title tags, meta descriptions and the H1 and H2.
- Backlinks from legitimate sites are very important in Bing rankings.
- Local search can be enhanced by entering information on the Bing business portal.
Optimizing for Facebook
In the past, Facebook’s search bar was primarily a friend-finder. While that was useful for networking, Facebook had larger ambitions for the search tool. A little over a year ago, the company began indexing posts, which means users can now search for topics and see what friends and brands were saying about those topics. Facebook later expanded on that functionality by making the entirety of its two trillion public posts searchable.
Users can now find business pages AND their individual posts through search. Interested in cats? A Facebook query for felines provides cat-related pages, conversations and posts from around the world. Even better, the results have continuous scrolling, effectively creating an endless first page. There are 1.5 billion daily searches on the platform, so Facebook page optimization is worth your attention. Start with the fundamentals:
- Match the page URL to the brand name.
- Choose appropriate categories and subcategories.
- Up-to-date and accurate contact information is essential.
- Ensure that the “About” section provides relevant information about the company. 60-80% of all Facebook searches pull content from this section.
- Post engaging content that is likely to be liked and shared. Interact with your audience to keep people interested and increase brand authority.
- Stay up-to-date with the news and post timely articles that relate to your brand.
- Facebook apps that help customers do things like book appointments or provide feedback improve your search results.
- Place keywords in the URL, page title and “About” section.
- Always include a description when posting pictures.
- Use Facebook’s CTA button feature to increase engagement.
Optimizing for Twitter
Now may be the time to get serious about beefing up your brand’s Twitter page. In February of last year, Twitter partnered with Google to allow tweets to appear on Google’s search engine results page. Any content that you share on the social platform now has a much larger audience. Of course, Twitter also has its own search functionality. While Google’s tweet results mainly focus on time-sensitive content, Twitter’s own results provide both live updates and older tweets.
Depending on your brand category, you may have an audience you never even considered. Improving your visibility with Twitter SEO can drive more traffic to your website and create new brand ambassadors. The goal is to get your tweets and company page in front of the right people at the right time. Optimizing your account and content is an easy way to do that.
- Mix keywords with timely and relevant hashtags in tweets.
- Expand your keyword list to include events your company is participating in.
- Ensure that your handle and username are consistent with your brand name. They don’t have to be identical to each other, but it’s best to keep them related.
- Your bio section should describe what you usually tweet about and why users would want to follow you. Twitter frequently indexes this section.
- Include hashtags for events the company is involved with in the bio.
- Be sure that your profile photo is 200×200 pixels for fast load times
- Include keywords, separated by dashes, in the profile photo file name.
- Shorten your link with a branded link shortener.
- Twitter analytics can help you identify which tweets are getting results.
- Include rich media that you think people would be interested in searching for.
- Ask people to retweet and provide a clear call-to-action
Optimizing for YouTube
The world’s second largest search engine is a largely underutilized source for traffic. YouTube gets 30 million+ visitors every day, and you can optimize for searches on the site. Not only can individual videos take advantage of SEO, entire channels can show up in YouTube search engine results. This is an opportunity to introduce your brand to new people and gain subscribers. A few changes to your channel can make a big difference:
- Use video keywords such as “How to”, “review” or “tutorial” in titles to show up in Google results and higher in YouTube searches.
- Engagement is the most important YouTube ranking signal. If you’re creating videos, put some time into production value. People won’t pay attention to fuzzy videos with poor sound quality.
- YouTube measures video retention, so you want your content to keep people interested as long as possible.
- Ask people to like or comment as these actions can improve your ranking. Replying to comments encourages others to interact.
- Give people a reason to subscribe. If you regularly provide valuable content, you build a subscriber base and relevance in search.
- Shares, favorites and thumbs up all factor into YouTube’s search algorithm.
- Videos longer than five minutes tend to rank better
- Video and channel descriptions help YouTube understand your content. Put a link to your website in the first sentence. Include a keyword in the first 25 words.
- Keep your channel keywords up-to-date
- Use relevant tags that include keywords.
- Get more views (which adds relevance) by mentioning your video on Q&A sites like Quora and your own blog posts.
Time to Broaden Your Horizons
It might seem like a lot of work to optimize for alternative search platforms – and it is – but you’re better off in the long run for doing it. While Google seems like it will take over the world someday, there are plenty of search engine alternatives that offer similar functionality and sometimes even advantages. It’s impossible to know exactly what the future holds in the search landscape. The only certainty is that a single basket is never enough to old all of your SEO eggs.