Google is the leading search engine in the UK, and has been for some time now, holding over 90% of the search market in the US and the UK – and so, of course, most marketers focus solely on Google optimisation and results. However, with the rise in the number of viable search engines, and the sheer number of items that include a search function as part of the internet-of-things, considering other search environments can be very important. Whilst Google has a high degree of global market share, some locations are primarily served through other companies like Baidu or Yandex – and whilst their numbers are comparatively small, their influence in those locations is comparable to Google, and any business with international leanings should be aware of the local search environment that they aim to be operating in. Here are the top 5 alternative search engines for marketers to consider:
Search engine optimisation alternatives
Bing – Microsoft’s alternative to Google has steadily increased its share of the search market over the years as it has spread across numerous device types, from games consoles to mobile phones and voice search. With its origins in two main products, MSN Search and Windows Live Search, Bing itself was established as late as 2009, but offers a robust search engine with lots of rich results and informative in-SERP answers to queries – as well as that all important ad platform. With its homepage featuring news stories and eye-catching visual elements, Bing also offers an information source which serves relevant and timely content beyond your original search intent – making it an attractive option for users.
With Bing also behind a broad range of Voice Search applications and devices (powering the likes of Amazon’s Alexa & Microsoft’s Cortana, as well as a multitude of smaller devices), Bing’s market share appears set to grow, and gives digital marketers plenty of scope for growth outside of the Google environment. As a global alternative, optimising for Bing should not be neglected.
Baidu – With 1.49% of global search engine market share (1.89% on Mobile) as of February 2020, Baidu appears to be only a small part of the global search market – however, they own over 75% of the Chinese search space (where Google sits at around 2%), and offers a huge amount of subsidiary services and products to support their position. Baidu utilises a powerful AI system to filter information and deliver the most accurate and relevant search results, alongside a more flexible paid advertising system.
Of course, Baidu is less relevant to your marketing efforts if you do not have such an international audience – however, for many businesses, tapping into this platform’s vast potential marketplace can be of huge benefit. By making sure that your digital offering is compliant with local search markets, you can give your international users a better experience – and beat out less focused competitors.
Yahoo! – Founded in 1994, Yahoo is a stalwart of the search engine world. With a complicated business history of success and failure, Yahoo got its start due to a lack of early competition and native integration with early browsers and web providers. Having previously offered a suite of products and services, and pioneered a range of digital services (often adapted and developed more successfully by competitors), Yahoo! now focuses exclusively on search.
Yahoo!’s search engine platform is, as of October 2019, powered by Bing – giving marketers the opportunity to simplify their SEO workload by optimising for both search engines with one set of tasks. Whilst still a tiny part of the search market compared to Google, Yahoo! remains a historic global competitor that still exerts some influence today.
Yandex – Much like Baidu, Yandex is very much dominant in a territory-specific context with Russia’s most popular search engine taking 0.54% of the global market, but over 50% of the Russian market. It remains the largest search engine across Europe and associated territories. Founded in 1997 by Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich, its strength lies in its sub-product diversification including its own Maps, Music and online translation facility – they have even attempted to take on Google’s Drive storage solution with their own Disk product.
The main benefit for Yandex over Google in these territories is the ability to understand and extrapolate inflection used in an array of Russian dialects, ensuring search queries return more accurate results than some of their industry counterparts, and provide an experience much more relevant to their users. In terms of optimisation opportunities, careful consideration of your target markets and how search engine use differs between countries is essential.
Yandex uses the latest technological advances in their search engine, trying to emulate the Google algorithm in the process, ranking sites according to links and content and other similar technical SEO practices, giving credibility to the sites that are the most trusted and authoritative to put them higher up in their SERPs.
DuckDuckGo – With global digital headlines often plagued by privacy and information handling issues, DuckDuckGo’s USP is to take away those concerns. Whilst most other search engines harvest and store data, where the risks of sensitive information falling into the hands of malicious third parties are ever-present, DuckDuckGo represents a more ethical opportunity to protect and improve privacy whilst also reducing the influence of advertisers and marketing on user experience.
The 12 year old search engine a, which has continued to grow steadily in popularity, alleviates those concerns by not storing personal data, not following users around with ads and not tracking users (with cookies, pixels, and so on). It also offers a similarly user-friendly interface to the market leaders, which is very clean largely thanks to the lack of advertisements. One main drawback is that DuckDuckGo does not have its own search index, and relies instead on an amalgamation of results from Bing, Yahoo and community-driven platforms like Wikipedia and co – so, again, optimising for Bing and question-answer formats would be advantageous here.