Learn About the Search Engines

It hasn’t been very long since the top ranking search engines in the United States were founded. Yahoo, one of the first and most popular search engines, was founded in 1994. It paved the way for other search engines to create a better way to crawl the web and index the hundreds of websites quickly created and gaining popularity. Google followed, as it was founded in 1998, and it has yet to stop growing, evolving and leading the way in search engine advancements. Another top search engine is Bing, founded a bit later than the others in 2009, has gained a steady hold on the search engine market share in the United States, and it continues to be a contender for better search results.

In Gainesville, we at Online Potential believe that in order to better serve our clients, a better understanding of the search engines is needed. It’s important to know how search engines work, what their purposes really are, and how business owners can optimize online content to rank well on the search engines. We’ve compiled everything you need to learn about the search engines so you can take the next step in Internet marketing.

Learn About the Search Engines

What’s in a search engine? Some people believe that all search engines are made the same, and that it doesn’t matter which one you use to browse or for which one you optimize content. We don’t think that’s true as there are obvious differences in each search engine, and we want to show you how you can create a strategy based around a search engine that will improve your Internet marketing.

Learn About Bing

Compared to its competition, Bing isn’t very old. But since its inception in 2009, the search engine has grown and created its own method for crawling, indexing and ranking websites. In fact, Microsoft considers Bing not a search engine but a “decision engine” as it is designed to return more relevant search results and minimize the junk users see.

There are four main areas that Bing focuses on to better serve users: travel, health, shopping and local. With a goal to simplify searching, Bing places an importance on usability and easier navigation. Some of this easy usability can be experienced through Autosuggest, Best Match, Explore Pane, Instant Answers and Deep Links features. So if Bing is so easy to use, why isn’t it ranked No. 1? The answer probably lies with Microsoft. Because the company is so diverse, it does not place importance on only one area, like a search engine. In contrast, Google started as a search engine, and although the company has expanded, its primary focus has remained on the search engine service.

Aside from aesthetics and features, Bing differs from other search engines in functionality. Bing crawls the millions of websites out there, much like any other search engine, but it looks for specific items in order to recommend a page on a search engine result page (SERP). Bing favors older, more established websites and ones with more official endings such as .gov and .edu. This could lead to more relevant and credible websites being returned on SERPs. Bing also indexes Flash media, something Google has yet to incorporate. And Bing places a focus on local businesses rather than larger, commercial companies. So if you’re a small business, you may want to rethink your optimization to include Bing.

SEO is also different for Bing. Its system is not as advanced as Google, so direct keywords and keyphrases are more important when optimizing for Bing. This includes meta titles, meta descriptions and on-page content.

The returned results can also differ based on user behavior. For example, a user who is riding in a car and searching for a gas station will get results for local gas stations along the route being traveled. Bing’s Trajectory feature is based not on location but movement to improve usability.

So, the big question is: Should I optimize for Bing? Our answer is: yes! Optimizing for more than one search engine can provide several benefits. The first is that having a backup to Google optimization can prove worthwhile should a Google algorithm update knock you from your top position. In that instance, it will take time to re-optimize your site for the changes, and that can equate to a loss of business if you aren’t optimize for another search engine.

Demographics play a key role in optimization. Which search engine is used the most by your consumers and potential consumers? If more of your customers use Bing, then it makes sense to optimize for Bing so that your website’s visibility is improved.

Learn About Yahoo

Although Yahoo began as an incredibly popular search engine, its success has fallen significantly, and it is now powered by Bing. But that hasn’t stopped the search engine from holding 10 percent of the U.S. desktop search engine market share, a noble feat for Yahoo.

While Yahoo is powered by Bing, it doesn’t mean the same people use the search engines interchangeably. So when you optimize your website’s SEO, you’ll want to discover whether your target audience primarily uses Yahoo in order to make reaching them a little easier.

Learn About Google

Google is the top-rated search engine in the United States for desktop and mobile searches. It is even the most-used search engine in the world. So it’s important to optimize for Google, even if your target audience uses Bing primarily. By ranking well on Google SERPs, you can improve the visibility of your business and even reach potential consumers who are outside of your demographic data.

Optimizing for Google isn’t an easy feat. You need to provide quality content worth linking, have an appropriate content-to-ad ratio, use keywords and keyphrases without overusing them, improve the structure of your website for easier navigation, make it easier for your website to be crawled, and follow Google’s webmaster guidelines to ensure you aren’t engaging in forbidden acts or schemes.

Google does provide a guideline for SEO so that businesses can better prepare their websites for success, but without an Internet marketing firm, business can miss out on a lot of features, help and data. Certified Google Partners can provide the highest level of SEO strategies for businesses because they have the knowledge and experience required to do so.

Google places a high importance on informative content that is original and unique. That means you can’t copy content from a competitor or include the same information on several pages in hopes of boosting your rankings. And because Google updates its algorithms hundreds of times every year, you might find that staying on top of the SERPs is a bigger challenge than you’d expect.

How to Adapt to Search Engine Changes

When determining which search engine to optimize for, it’s important to take a look at the hard data. Where do you consumers come from? Which search engine are they using the most? And what are the browsing and buying behaviors of your consumers?

After you consider the key demographics for optimizing to a specific search engine, you should take a close look at your target audience. Optimizing for a search engine to improve your visibility is great, but don’t forget to optimize for your audience which is comprised of people who are going to buy your products, use your services, and recommend you to their friends. Optimizing for the user includes providing content worthy of reading and sharing, improving navigation so users can find specific items or pages easily, and an overall better user experience, whether that be through content, navigation, design or interaction features.

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