It’s functionally impossible to talk about search engine optimization (SEO) without mentioning Google in almost the same breath. This is unsurprising. Although the search giant’s parent company, Alphabet, may not have invented search, it has over the past several decades both cornered and refined the market.
Per Global Statcounter, Google now accounts for approximately 92 percent of all global search engine traffic.
Today, SEO experts constantly monitor and analyze algorithm updates in order to determine how they might impact search traffic. Google’s advertising arm is an outright titan. AdWords remains one of the best keyword research tools on the market.
With all this in mind, it may seem like a no-brainer that SEO has to target Google in order to succeed.
As is so often the case, the truth is a bit more nuanced. For one, the days when SEO required a website to target the algorithms and idiosyncrasies of each search engine in order to place are far behind us. Google is still the standard in terms of keyword and content optimization, but most search engines follow the same broad rules and concepts.
That is to say, they want to provide users with what they’re looking for as seamlessly and painlessly as possible. High-quality, properly-targeted content, therefore, tends to thrive across the board. At the same time, people who try to game the system and push thin or spun content to the front of the search engine results page inevitably meet with failure.
Some may hold that the exception to this rule is social search. And while your brand should target social networks with its marketing efforts, social search and traditional search are two very different beasts. Each has a unique purpose, and it’s advisable that your brand leverage both.
Social is a tool for outreach and user engagement, and social search exists to augment that. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter provide customers with a means of reaching out and interacting with businesses, driving purchases through recommendations and viral content. Traditional search engines are a bit more passive and conversion-driven, intended to drive traffic to a website and convert that traffic into qualified leads.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that viable alternatives to Google do exist. As users become more and more concerned about the modern data-driven economy, we’re seeing them seek privacy-focused alternatives to the search giant. At the moment, the numbers are barely noticeable.
But that may change.
StartPage is arguably the most fascinating of these alternatives, and one of those which may drive a larger shift in the market. A Netherlands-based startup, the company actually pulls its results directly from Google via a longstanding partnership. Where it differs is that it focuses simply on providing the results.
It doesn’t personalize the SERP. It doesn’t lean heavily into advertising. And it doesn’t collect any user data.
“We feel everyone has the right to enjoy…the best search results in the world, and at the same time not be profiled and have information [stored about them],” StartPage CEO Robert Beens explained in an interview with business publication Fast Company. “As far as we know, [Google is] happy with the partnership, and they feel that we really offer something special to our audience, to people who are looking for a privacy-focused search engine.”
Google may have become synonymous with search, but the idea that you must target it with your SEO efforts is inaccurate. Whether StartPage, DuckduckGo, or some other search engine altogether, the rules are ultimately the same. Create exceptional content, and you’ll do just fine.
- Is It Worthwhile to Target Search Engines Other Than Google? - June 5, 2020