Google – the best thing since sliced bread?

By now, it goes without saying that getting your website to the top of multiple relevant Google searches is important. After all, Google is the name that comes to mind when you’re looking for answers – so much so that it’s actually become synonymous with the act of finding out what you want to know. “Just Google it!” If your site is considered relevant by Google, then you can rest easy knowing that it will be to both existing and potential customers as well.

However, it’s important to realize that Google is not the only player when it comes to today’s search engines. Believe it or not, options like Ask Jeeves, AOL, and MSN are still popular enough to consider. Then there are up-and-coming options like Bing to boot… but are these Google alternatives really important enough to be worth worrying about?

Understanding How People Use Search Engines

GoogleOnce upon a time, the Internet and its search engines were simply a handy way to kill time by finding and consuming information for no particular purpose. These days, they’re the go-to method when it comes to information seeking for every purpose. Modern consumers use them the way they used to use the Yellow Pages to find businesses, service providers, and other everyday necessaries.

However, not everyone uses search engines the same way. To begin with, not everyone uses Google. Also, many people use multiple search engines when seeking information. Since Google is still responsible for sending roughly 90% of the web’s current traffic (according to, it’s the most important search engine to consider for sure. However, if you’re not even factoring the alternatives into your SEO strategy, you may miss your chance to reach quite a few would-be customers.

For instance, Yahoo is still responsible for sending approximately 4% of the web’s current traffic. Bing is about even with Yahoo at the moment, but as it gains in popularity, we can expect to see it becoming responsible for more and more web visits. Even lesser used options like Ask Jeeves and Baidu that send less than 1% of the web’s traffic are still important to consider when you remember that billions of people conduct web searches every day.

Ranking With the Search Engines

Many people are already familiar with some of the main ways to build authority with the search engines. Properly optimized images and title tags are still vitally important, as is optimal keyword density for your pages and blog entries. You still need plenty of high quality backlinks to your site and should avoid duplicate content like the plague as well. However, that’s not all that goes into looking good to the best search engines.

Google Ranking Factors

Good grammar and correct spelling isn’t just something that makes you appear smarter and more knowledgeable to other people. It also helps you make your case with Google. The citation of references and other information sources helps to send a high quality signal to the search giant as well.

In addition to this, we’re seeing social media becoming increasingly important to Google – exactly why we’re seeing such a strong focus on Facebook likes, retweets, and the like when it comes to SEO campaigns. Google also loves signals from its own networks – like Blogger and Google+ — so these platforms should be important concerns.

Bing, Yahoo, and Others

The great majority of people who either don’t use Google or occasionally like to use an engine other than Google will typically be using either Bing or Yahoo. Like Google, Bing favors sites with strong social signals, especially Facebook likes. Association with important brand names and TLD extensions (especially .org, .gov, or .edu) is also a plus.

If you’re properly optimized for Bing, you can also consider yourself properly optimized for Yahoo, as they prioritize similar things. However, with Yahoo you will definitely want to focus on local SEO, as well as meta tags and meta descriptions. They’re big on both of those things.

At the end of the day, Google still really ought to be your main focus when it comes to your search engine strategy, but it’s far from the only contender out there. A thorough SEO campaign will also target other search engines and their users.