Google is the guiding star in online business. There are few websites that do not follow the webmaster guidelines of the search engine. Because if you want to be found, you want to be found first and foremost on Google. Exceptions confirm the rule here as well. However, if you don’t run an agency for optimisation on niche search engines, you rely on the market leader.
Nevertheless, it never hurts to deal with the competition. Not least because Google’s dominance does not have to last forever. And also because the cards are distributed quite differently internationally. In China, for example, Baidu dominates, followed by Shenma. And in Russia, there is no way around Yandex. For companies that want to be found in these countries, it is advisable to deal with the differences to Google and, if in doubt, to fall back on local agencies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Brief history of search engines
- Search Engine Portrait
- How do I optimize for other search engines?
- Other search engines
- Nothing comes after Google
Brief history of search engines
No, we’re not going to start at the beginning, and we’ll spare ourselves the excursus on Information Retrival. But a brief outline of the development of the search engine is interesting if only because it proves that Google has not always existed. And it shows how quickly things can change.
- The history of search engines begins in 1990 at McGill University. This is where “Archie” comes into being. It was only able to find folders and files in FTP directories and was thus still a long way from the systems we know today. Nevertheless, “Archie” is considered the first of its kind.
- At the University of Minnesota, a similar system was created a year later with “Veronica“, which makes all directories and also the university intranet searchable.
- The Wanderer” took its first step into the World Wide Web in 1993. The search engine grew with the rapidly developing Internet and received more and more crawlers and bots to catalogue pages. The search engine was developed at MIT by Mathew Gray, expanded by Michael L. Maudlin.
- In 1994, Lycos and Yahoo! were launched, two search engines whose names are probably still familiar to most people today.
- Infoseek (bought out by Walt Disney, discontinued in 2001), Architext (still available as Excite), and Alta Vista (owned by Yahoo!, discontinued in 2013) were the first companies to attempt to make money from search on the web in 1995.
- Google started in 1998. The search engine has already been in development for three years and not only convinces users with a significantly higher speed than the competition. In particular, the relevance of the results is noticeably better.
- Microsoft also tried it already in 1998 with a search engine. MSN Search was able to gain a relatively large market share, especially due to its distribution via Internet Explorer.
- But Google continued to grow steadily. Image search, Google My Business, the analysis options and the Ads network were expanded further and further. That, and a much better reputation than the Windows company, solidified its position in the early 2000s as the defining search engine and thus also as one of the driving forces behind the development of the web.
- But Microsoft did not give in. With Windows Live Search (2006) and Bing (from 2009), it continued to develop its search engine. Finally, it even merged with its former competitor Yahoo! in order to be able to counter Google. But so far, the competition from Mountain View is simply too strong. In Europe, Australia, Africa, North and South America, over 90 percent of search queries go through Google.
Search Engine Portrait
Bing: Probably Google’s biggest competitor comes from Microsoft. The search engine is relatively successful, especially due to its direct implementation in Internet Explorer or Edge. The numerous cooperations, for example with Baidu and Yahoo! also ensure a strong position on the market. The quality of the results and the scope of complementary services have become more and more similar to those of Google over the last few years. However, Bing is still far from being able to match the market leader. (www.bing.com)
DuckDuckGo: To deliver the best possible search results, the search engine combines the results of about 400 other sites and its own crawlers. In addition, DuckDuckGo promises to query and store only a minimum of user data. This is a direct response to the frequent criticism of Google by data protectionists and gives the search engine a steadily growing market share. In 2021, it could reach the 100 million queries per day mark. (duckduckgo.com)
Ecosia: The German search engine tries to score points especially with ecology. Part of the revenue flows directly into various environmental projects. However, the search results come entirely from Bing. A successful strategy so far. The turnover in 2020 was over 20 million euros – and rising. (www.ecosia.org)
Yahoo!: Besides Bing, Yahoo! is the only real competitor for Google. The merger with Microsoft from 2012 was the logical consequence in order to be able to counter the market leader. The Internet company provides numerous other services that are in direct competition with other products of the big rival. (yahoo.com)
Baidu: What Google is in the West, Baidu is in China. With a market share of well over 70 percent, the company is the market leader in the communist country. Because of extensive implementation of state censorship, there is always criticism of the search engine. Queries in English are taken over by Bing. (www.baidu.com)
Yandex: Not only China, but also Russia relies on a search engine other than Google. In the largest country in the world and the successor states of the USSR, it is Yandex (Яндекс) that is used for more than 50 percent of search queries. The system is particularly notable for its specialization in the Cyrillic script and its interpretation of the different levels of meaning and dialects within the Slavic language families. (yandex.com)
Shenma: Shenma is a Chinese search engine that ranks a distant second behind Baidu. It specializes in mobile-first results and is part of the Alibaba Group. (sm.cn)
Haosu: number three in China. Not relevant for foreign entrepreneurs.
How do I optimize for other search engines?
The good news: In their basic features, all systems are based on the big role model and work very similarly. Optimizations that make your website look better on Google will also work on all other platforms. If you still want to focus on other search engines, your time (and money) is best spent focusing on Bing. That’s because most services work with Microsoft in one way or another and take over parts or even the entire search engine results pages (SERPs) from the Windows company.
Only for the Russian market and Yandex should entrepreneurs look for an SEO agency that has relevant language skills to place them successfully. The same applies, of course, for a deeper engagement in China. As soon as the local language is used, it is advisable to work with native speakers or at least well-versed foreign language professionals to achieve good results.
Still, if you’d like to do better on Bing, Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo, or see it as a way to open up a second distribution channel, there are one or two factors you should consider.
Search engines work with the keywording of content. But where Google now uses algorithms that can create semantic references and logical links to be able to develop a subject area in its entirety, others are nowhere near as far. Therefore, an optimization on a main keyword at Bing and Co. is the decisive step for a successful ranking. Especially in headlines it should occur and also the keyword density in the text should be at least 1/70. In addition, in some cases, the meta keyword specifications, which have long been obsolete at Google, still seem to have an influence on the result.
Where Google values a complex, natural link profile, a relevant source page is far more important to the competition. A Wikipedia entry, for example, will almost inevitably catapult a page into the top 10 on Bing and Co. Contributions on trustworthy news sites or specialist portals also ensure a good positioning and carry much more weight than on Google.
According to Google, signals from social media are ignored. This is different with Bing and Co. Visitors coming from Facebook, Instagram and similar platforms are considered a positive sign and can have a high influence on the ranking.
Other search engines
There are a number of other companies that answer search queries on the web. Apple, Facebook and Amazon are among the frontrunners here. The search algorithms are specifically designed to meet the needs of the platforms for which they were developed and therefore follow slightly different approaches.
Amazon: Again, keywords are at the top of the priority list, followed immediately by “more keywords”. Add all relevant terms, the most important first. Orientate yourself on competitors and other market participants for useful inspiration. In addition, a detailed and informative product description including meaningful images helps to be found by as many potential customers as possible.
Facebook: Whether the search function of the largest social network really counts as a search engine is debatable. Nevertheless, company profiles and posts can be optimized to achieve higher visibility. Facebook relies on titles and keywords to catalogue content. Placing these prominently and clearly is therefore crucial to ranking well. However, interaction with a post is most relevant. The more likes and shares, the greater the reach.
Apple: It’s still pie in the sky, but Apple is working on its own alternative to Google. The algorithms that Siri uses form the basic framework on which the company wants to build. Thanks to the complex ecosystem that Apple has built around its devices, such a move, if it produces a search engine that is comparable to Google in terms of quality of results, could become a real competitor and completely restructure the online marketing market. Apple has not yet announced when this will happen.
Nothing comes after Google
The common guiding principle of all SEO measures is that it is completely sufficient to only care about Google. In most cases, this is correct. Because with a market coverage of sometimes significantly more than 90 percent, special optimizations are actually not worthwhile. Nevertheless, it is advisable to take a look at the second tier at least from time to time. Because here you can often get more out with just a few resources. And another channel, through which you can get customers almost for free, certainly does not hurt. No matter how small it is.