Is It Ever Worthwhile to Optimize for Search Engines Other Than Google?

There’s no question that Google dominates the world of search. Its algorithms handle roughly 90% of all search queries worldwide. Its closest rival, Bing, has a market share of a paltry 3.33%; the next runner-up, Yahoo, clocks in at 1.34%. 

With the above in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that the majority of search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on playing nice with Google’s algorithms. It keeps with one of the most basic tenets of doing business—be where your audience is. But could we actually be sabotaging ourselves? 

Could it be better to expand our focus, even in the face of seemingly minuscule returns? 

Why Bother Looking Outside Google? 

We’ve all heard that adage about putting all your eggs in one basket. Google’s algorithms may form the backbone of the Internet as we know it, but it is, at the end of the day, still a business. And if you optimize exclusively with Google in mind, you’re arguably leaving your website at the mercy of that business. 

After all, everyone’s heard at least one story of how a single algorithm update brought an entire company to its knees. 

That isn’t the only reason you might consider shifting your attention away from Google. If you know for a fact that your target audience is incredibly privacy-conscious, then there’s a good chance you might not even find them on Google. They’re far likelier to use a search engine like DuckDuckGo. 

It’s also worth looking at each search engine’s market share not in terms of percentage points, but search volume. Bing, for instance, saw roughly 1.2 billion unique global visitors in May 2022 alone. That may pale in comparison to Google’s 89.3 billion, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at. 

If you could capture even a fraction of those unique visitors as leads, one could argue that your efforts have more than paid off. 

Finally, a lower market share arguably means there’s less competition on the lesser-used search engines. It may potentially be easier to rank on Yahoo or DuckDuckGo than on Google, which could, in turn, lead to more traffic. 

Optimizing for Other Search Engines

Here’s the good news—for the most part, SEO on other search engines isn’t actually that different from Google SEO. In the case of Bing and Yahoo, the process is almost identical. You might need to do a bit of extra keyword research, but optimizing for Google means you’ve effectively already optimized for other search engines. 

That said, there are a few differences that you should keep in mind:

  • There’s evidence to suggest that Bing may treat social shares as a ranking factor, something Google has yet to do. 
  • DuckDuckGo places considerable emphasis on usability, privacy, and high-quality backlinks, even more so than Google. 
  • Because DuckDuckGo doesn’t track user data, you’ll need to adjust how you target your keywords. 
  • Some search engines, like Baidu, require you to submit your URLs to them directly. 

So, to circle back to our original question, is it worthwhile to optimize for search engines other than Google? Most definitely—at least in part because you’ve already done most of the work.

Search Engine Optimization Is Not A Magic Bullet. You Need to Understand Its Limitations

We’ve all met at least one search engine optimization (SEO) snake oil salesman. You know the type. 

Grandiose and sweeping promises. Language bogged down with so much jargon it’s functionally meaningless. An endless barrage of gaslighting and cold opens. 

To hear these people talk, SEO is some sort of mystic art, and mastery means you’re guaranteed to dominate the search engine results page (SERP). 

Anyone who’s spent even a little time studying the craft knows this to be a blatant lie. SEO is valuable, indeed—it’s a powerful lead generation and marketing tool in the right hands. But it’s not some secret weapon, and it won’t allow you to seize control of Google’s algorithms. 

In order to leverage it effectively, you need to accept that—you need to understand the limitations of SEO.

It Can’t Save Low-Quality Content

All of Google’s most recent algorithm updates have been deployed with the goal of making the search engine better at recognizing whether content is valuable to the audience. Rather than operating exclusively on keyword matching, the search engine is increasingly focused on intent. It’s focused on understanding what the searcher wants and providing them with the content that best fulfills what they’re looking for. 

For this reason, if your content is poor quality, it doesn’t matter how much time you put into SEO. It’s not going to generate any meaningful returns. 

Google’s Algorithms Are Mercurial, at Best

Google releasing an algorithm that completely upsets our understanding of SEO and penalizes countless websites is very nearly an annual tradition at this point. It’s easy to forget that, regardless of how much effort we put into optimization, we’re ultimately at Google’s mercy. A single algorithm change could wipe out our progress. 

It Doesn’t Provide Immediate Returns

Unlike other paid promotion strategies, SEO is more of a slow burn. It rarely generates fast traffic or an instant return on investment. Instead, it’s more about gradually cultivating your website, building up a reputation and a rapport with high-quality content, and ensuring that content is seen by targeting the right keywords. 

It takes patience, in other words—and some people lack that patience. 

It Might Not Be A Secret Weapon, But SEO Is Still Valuable

We’d like to conclude with a bit of a disclaimer. We spent a lot of time today talking about the limitations and drawbacks of SEO. We are by no means trying to say that SEO isn’t worthwhile. 

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Even though it’s relatively slow and heavily relies on Google’s algorithms and inbound marketing content, an effective SEO strategy is ultimately a cornerstone of every successful business. It’s not a magic bullet or some holy grail of marketing. But it’s still more than worth exploring. 

Go Beyond Traditional User Intent With Micro-Intents

We’re going to assume you’re already familiar with the four major search intents—transactional, informational, navigational, and brand.  What you may not know is that as search engine optimization has continued to evolve, those intents have slowly started to lose relevance. To put it another way, a general idea of what a searcher wants is no longer sufficient. 

You need specifics. What precise content does someone with informational search intent want to find? At what stage of the buyer’s journey is a user with transactional/commercial intent? 

That’s where micro-intents come in. As noted by Search Engine Land, these subcategories of traditional search and user intents offer a better understanding of audience expectations. And that, in turn, can be used to create more targeted, higher-value content.

We’ve listed the different micro-intents below for posterity.  

Informational Micro-Intents

  • Entertainment. Entertainment-focused content is all about passing the time. It can take many different forms but is typically easily digestible. 
  • Definition. If you want an example of definition-focused content, you’re reading it. You came here because you wanted to know what micro-intents are. 
  • Expansional. This type of content is similar to definition-focused but takes a much deeper, more comprehensive dive. 
  • Enablement. Typically, enablement content takes the form of how-to articles and videos. 
  • Overview/Aggregation. Similar to definition/expansional, overview content takes a high-level look at a topic. Examples include infographics and listicles.  

Transactional/Commercial Micro-Intents

  • Comparison. The user is looking to buy but wants to determine which product/brand is the best before they do so. 
  • Category. The user has a general idea of the product or service they want but is still trying to decide on a specific solution. 
  • Product. The user is at the bottom of the funnel and is about to make a purchase—they’re looking to find out a bit more about a product or service before they finalize their decision.  

Brand Micro-Intents

There are actually no specific brand micro-intents to speak of. Generally, branded searches can be positioned under one of the other three categories. With that said, branded searches are typically looking for reviews, testimonials, or other information—anything that one would typically use to build trust. 

Navigational Micro-Intents

  • Support. The user is currently a customer and is looking for help with their product or service. This could take the form of instructional articles, a product-related knowledge base, or contact information for a support professional.
  • Website. Self-explanatory. The user wants to find a specific page, blog post, or social channel. 
  • Location. Similar to the previous intent, except that they’re looking for a location in the real world rather than online. 

How Do You Determine Micro-Intents? 

The good news is that micro-intents are no more challenging to determine than high-level intents. Simply pay attention to specific phrases or keywords, and use your best judgment. From there, it’s simply a matter of creating content that’s more directly targeted. Couple this with the information we provided on identifying keyword targets, and you’re sure to find success in your SEO efforts.

Three Things You Need to Understand About TikTok SEO

With over one billion monthly active users, TikTok is among the most popular social networks in the world, eclipsed only by Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. It’s also rapidly becoming the social app of choice for millennials and generation Z, who together make up roughly 75% of its global base. Suffice it to say, if your brand is looking to target either of those audiences, it’s in your best interest to gain a foothold. 

That’s actually not as difficult to do as you might expect—or at least, it’s no more or less challenging than any other social network. As is usually the case, success starts with a solid marketing strategy and a decent understanding of search engine optimization.  With that in mind, here are the three most important things you must understand about TikTok SEO.  

The Basics of Topic Ideation Remain the Same

Plenty of brands treat social media as some sort of arcane, unknowable entity, as if they’re convinced they’ll need to reinvent the wheel in order to succeed. The reality, however, is that the foundation of TikTok SEO, topic ideation, is the same as on any other site. To summarize: 

  • Understand your audience—who they are, what they’re looking for, and why they might be interested in your brand. 
  • Leverage sites like Quora and tools such as Answer the Public to research the questions your audience is asking and the topics that interest them.  
  • Pay attention to how any topics you identify relate to your brand’s niche. 
  • Identify the specific keywords in those questions and topics, then leverage them in your TikTok videos, captions especially. 
  • Be respectful of your audience’s time. There’s rarely a reason for a TikTok video to be longer than a minute. 

Trends and Hashtags Are Crucial for Discoverability

Especially with Google’s eventual plan to index TikTok video content, choosing the right hashtags and trends goes a long way toward increasing your brand’s reach and visibility. Successfully leveraging more popular trends can generate a torrent of views and engagement, potentially even causing your page to go viral. Provided you’ve targeted the right users and linked your TikTok channel back to your website, that also has the potential to lead to a high volume of conversions. 

Quality and Consistency Always Win

The phrase ‘content is king’ may be overused, but that doesn’t make it any less true. High-quality, relevant content is the most important factor in your success on TikTok—or really, on any channel. That means crystal-clear audio and video and a well-written script geared towards your audience. 

Without those characteristics, it doesn’t really matter how well you optimize your TikTok videos from a search perspective. Reach is all well and good, but only if it’s attached to content that people actually want to watch. Always keep that in mind.

And above all, remember to always create content with purpose. 

What Are the Four Pillars of SEO, and Why Are They Important?

To hear some people talk, search engine optimization (SEO) is some sort of arcane, incomprehensible craft. Those are the snake oil salespeople of the SEO sector—we’ve warned you about them in the past. The truth is that SEO isn’t actually as complicated as you might think.

Though with that said, it can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re new to the discipline. With that in mind, we’re going to break things down to be a bit more digestible. At a high level, SEO can be separated into four distinct pillars.

They are, as defined by Search Engine Land, your main areas of focus—and the primary determinants of your success. 

On-Page SEO: What’s On Your Website

This is what most people immediately think about when you mention SEO. It includes keyword research, website metadata, URLs, internal links, and page titles. There’s also a great deal of overlap between on-page SEO and technical SEO, as both are concerned with user experience. 

Technical SEO differs from on-page in a few key ways, however. 

Technical SEO: What’s Under the Hood

Technical SEO is, in many ways, the most complicated of the four pillars. It’s focused on your website’s backend—the factors that influence page speed, security, responsiveness, and overall performance. Technical SEO is also concerned with the way search engines crawl your site, as defined by your XML sitemap, robots.txt file, and meta directives. 

Generally, mucking about with technical SEO is something that’s best left to the experts—failing that, most decent SEO tools provide you with the necessary functionality to tweak the technical side of things. 

iphone with google open

Content: Your Bread and Butter

Content, as they say, is king. In addition to being a crucial component of any inbound marketing strategy, effective site content is a pillar of SEO. Good content is not only high quality, but also highly relevant to your audience. Your goal with content is to provide visitors with exactly what they’re searching for, whether that’s a food recipe or guidance on how to build a deck. 

In most cases, you’re going to want to strike a solid balance between content that’s sales-focused and content that’s audience-focused. 

Off-Page SEO: Promoting Awareness

Last but certainly not least, off-page SEO is sort of an umbrella term for everything that doesn’t fit under any of the other three pillars. It’s all about how people find, perceive, and talk about your website and brand. Unsurprisingly, there’s a great deal of overlap between off-page SEO and social media marketing. 

Off-page SEO is also a cornerstone of local SEO, as that requires that your business maintain a Google My Business Page and monitor factors such as reviews. Inbound links are another element of off-page SEO, alongside your business’s outreach strategy and any mailing lists you maintain. 

What Role Does Page Speed Play in Search Engine Optimization?

Faster is better. 

That’s been common knowledge for a while now. Unless there’s a noticeable gap in quality,  a faster website will almost always outperform slower sites in the same niche. We aren’t solely talking about search engine optimization (SEO), either. 

More than half of mobile users abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Bounce rates increase exponentially for each additional second it takes a page to load, topping out at 123% for 10 seconds. On top of this, for every second above the average a page takes to load, customer satisfaction plummets further. 

All this is to say that if your website is slow, you’re getting hit from multiple angles—by Google’s algorithms as well as a dissatisfied audience. 

How to Optimize Your Website for Speed

So, we’ve established the importance of page speed. Let’s wrap things up with a brief overview of what you can do to optimize yours. We advise the following while also using Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check on your progress as you do: 

  • Minimize HTTP requests wherever possible. 
  • Implement a content delivery network positioned geographically close to your primary audience. 
  • Leverage browser caching. 
  • Use adaptive web design, including both images and layout. 
  • Compress your website’s content. 
  • Minify your code, and only use scripts where absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid using rich media where possible.
  • If you must use JavaScript or rich media, asynchronous loading is your friend.  
  • As an addendum to the above, defer resource-heavy files so that they only load after the most crucial elements on your site. 
  • Work with your host to improve your backend and minimize time to first byte.  Note that this may require you to choose a new web host if your current one does not meet your needs. 
  • Consider running a compression audit with a tool like GIDNetwork
  • If you’re using a content management system such as WordPress, assess your plugins and uninstall any that you don’t absolutely need. Factors to look for include: 
    • Overlapping functionality.
    • Tasks that can be easily accomplished manually.
    • Poor performance optimization. 
    • Lack of consistent updates.
    • Security flaws.
  • Cut down on redirects. 
  • Optimize for mobile first, desktop second. 

We realize that’s a bit of a comprehensive list. But we also promise it’s worth the effort to incorporate every piece of advice. Not only will Google’s algorithms like your website a lot more, your audience will thank you for your efforts. If you want to see other ways you can increase the SEO performance of your site, check out our post on the role of Backlinks in SEO.

Remember that you also don’t need to incorporate all of our advice overnight. SEO has always been a gradual, ongoing process. This is really no different—ironically, if you try to rush your page speed optimization, you might end up shooting yourself in the foot before you even manage to get off the ground. 

How to Successfully Target Keywords in your Blog Posts in 2022

Content is king. SEO is dead. Relevance, relevance, relevance. 

You’ve heard it all before, the buzzwords, sweeping assertions, and half-truths. We’d wager you’re just as tired of it as we are. 

See, although content is important, it’s only part of the equation. You still need a strategy—something to inform what you write and to whom you address it. The best way to achieve that, believe it or not, is still with keywords. 

So with that in mind, let’s discuss what it takes to successfully target keywords in your blog posts in 2022.

Initial Research

What are people searching for? 

That’s the first question you need to answer. Look at Google Trends, examine your own analytics data, and assess competing websites via a keyword analysis tool. The goal here is to identify keyword opportunities that fit into your brand and niche. 

Generally, though, you’re not going to directly use any of the keywords you discover during this research. Most of them are going to be too broad in scope, too competitive, or both. Your next step will be to narrow things down. 

Topic Ideation

Once you’ve established a few broad keyword opportunities, it’s time to narrow things down to come up with topics that are a bit more focused. Consider what you know about your audience. Not just the search terms they’re using, but the intent behind those terms and why they chose to visit your site specifically. 

Drawing on this knowledge, your goal is to generate a list of topics that align simultaneously with your brand, their interests, and their intent. 

Topic Keyword Research

Next, for each of the topics you came up with in the previous step, you’re going to drill down a little further. The goal here is to come up with subtopics and related keywords for each. In particular, pay attention to the questions people are asking on search—these are all questions you will likely want to answer in your content. 

Optionally, you can check out Q&A communities such as Quora for both inspiration and information. 

Content Creation & Optimization

Finally, it’s time to start creating. By now, you have both your topic and a general outline in place. All that remains is creation.  To that end, there are a few best practices you’ll want to follow: 

  • Make sure to identify whether you want to create Horizontal or Vertical content before you put the pen to the paper. This is the true measure of whether you understand the searchers intent.
  • Make sure your URL and meta title both contain your core keyword. It’s recommended that your meta description does as well, but that won’t directly influence how you rank.
  • Add internal links to any other relevant blog posts or pages on your website. Ideally, you’ll want to anchor those links to relevant keywords. 
  • Once you’ve finished creating and your post goes live, promote it. Share it to every social network on which you’re active. 

What Role do Backlinks Play in Search Engine Optimization in 2022?

Remember back in the earliest days of search engine optimization? Back when the Internet was akin to the Wild West, and tactics like keyword stuffing and link farms were still relevant? We’ve come a long way since then, haven’t we? 

Especially lately. It seems like every single one of Google’s more recent algorithm updates have been released with a single goal in mind—to gradually depreciate the importance of technical SEO in favor of content quality and relevance. As far as we’ve seen, they’ve done a pretty good job thus far. 

That isn’t to say the technical side isn’t still important. It most definitely is. It just plays a slightly different role these days. 

Backlinks are included under that umbrella—and recently, we’ve seen plenty of people wondering what their purpose, role, and relevance are to SEO in 2022. 

Scrabble tiles spell out SEO

Not Quite Irrelevant

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front. Backlinks are still incredibly important and should be a centerpiece of any successful SEO strategy. With that said, it’s important to understand that not all backlinks are created equal. 

For instance, backlinks from a site that’s considered authoritative in the consumer electronics space isn’t going to do you much good if your niche is industrial machinery. As the first step in your backlink strategy, you’re going to want to do a bit of research and figure out: 

  • Which websites related to your niche have the highest E-A-T score.
  • Who the top thought leaders and influencers are for your sector.
  • If there are any websites you should avoid or brands that are considered toxic. 

Once you’ve put together a shortlist of sites that are worthwhile from a backlink perspective, you’ll next want to check if any of them have guest editorial guidelines. Now, it’s certainly possible to reach out and get a piece placed on a site that doesn’t have a clear program in place. However, it’s also a great deal more difficult to even get a response, particularly if you try to reach out via a cold email. 

Beyond exchanging guest posts, the best advice we can give is to simply take a collaborative approach to content creation. What we mean here is that you should look to establish yourself not just on social media, but also in any communities that are relevant to your niche.  Focus on building partnerships and cultivating relationships first and foremost. 

With any luck, you’ll find some valuable backlink opportunities as you do so. Also, check out our post on vertical and horizontal content to get a better understanding of how you should structure your informational pieces. The way your content is written and the audiences it appeals to should be considered when you’re trying to build backlinks.

Even in Backlinks, Content Remains King

Ultimately, the best way to get yourself out there and start generating backlinks is through the creation of high-quality content. If you can establish your brand as a thought leader,  then people will naturally start linking back to you.  From there, you’ve nowhere to go but up. 

What is Virtual Environment Optimization (VEO)?

People are obsessed over how virtual reality and augmented reality will disrupt the marketing sector. Unsurprisingly, with hype comes buzzwords. And the latest phrase that seems to be on everyone’s lips? 

Virtual Environment Optimization (VEO). It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Just as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves tweaking your website’s performance and content to appeal to search algorithms, VEO represents all the proposed tactics, strategies, and technical adjustments required to market to users in virtual reality. 

But is this actually a trend we should all prepare for, or is it like the metaverse—an overdone buzzword referencing technologies that have already existed for decades? 

questions marks spread across black surface

Honestly, at this point, the jury is still out. While it’s true that all the talk of a completely immersive, completely interconnected virtual world is largely bunk, it’s also true that we’ve already seen some very exciting applications of VR and its less advanced cousin, augmented reality. For evidence of this, we need look no further than online apparel and home goods retailers. 

Seeking a means of replicating in-person retail during lockdown, many of these eCommerce brands turned to augmented reality. Users could visualize how a particular type of furniture would look in their space or how a ring would look on their finger using their smartphone. They could compare the sizes of different types of products, browse dynamically-generated lifestyle photography, and generally enjoy a shopping experience that was the next best thing to actually being there.   

Of course, that alone doesn’t mean we’re on the verge of a deep dive into full immersion. There are still far too many roadblocks for the technology to reach its full potential. If you recall the shape of the smartphone market prior to the early 2000s, it’s a very familiar picture:

  • Current VR headsets are far too expensive for the general public and are held back further by issues with availability. 
  • VR technology is either too bulky or too uncomfortable to be worn for an extended period of time. 
  • Immersion-breaking technical and performance glitches are still far too common. 

It’s important to note here that we’re not saying VR will never be a reality, nor are we denying the notion that someday, VEO will be every bit as important as SEO. But the simple fact is that we’re just not there yet. For now, marketing through virtual reality is a niche pursuit at best, and at worst little more than a pipe dream. 

Learn about it if you so choose. But don’t expect to see practical applications for that knowledge for at least a few years. And for the love of everything sacred about SEO, please stop talking about the metaverse—it’s not going to happen.

Not in the way people who promote the concept believe it will happen, anyway. Interested in more SEO content? Check out our monthly blog, and posts on topics such as Three Potential Reasons You’re Not Ranking on Google!

Is it Possible to Predict the Outcome of an Algorithm Update?

Google’s algorithm remains one of the most enduring mysteries in search engine optimization. Although we know the general rules, no one is entirely clear about how they’re enforced. Similarly, there’s rarely a clear consensus on the nature of upcoming releases—every expert tends to have their own take on what’s coming.

Given how arcane Google’s algorithm is and will likely remain, it should follow that it’s impossible to predict algorithm changes and their impact with any degree of accuracy, right? 

Not exactly. While figuring out what Google intends to do next is largely a guessing game—only their engineers know for certain—it is possible to determine how an update will impact your position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). As with so many other things, the answer lies with artificial intelligence. 

Scrabble tiles spell out SEO

As noted by Search Engine Journal, through a combination of machine learning, real-time data, and historical data, AI-driven solutions can

  • Test how website changes will impact your PageRank. 
  • Display how an algorithm update will impact your website. 
  • Identify weaknesses and bottlenecks that may be lowering your PageRank. 
  • Understand why competitors outrank you.
  • Anticipate how your SEO efforts will impact your site’s long-term growth. 

Granted, these tools don’t offer a direct window to the inner workings of Google’s algorithms. No tool can truly claim to accomplish that—not without drawing the ire of the search giant, anyway. What they do provide is the next best thing, getting you as close to fully accurate predictions as possible. 

One might say it’s something of a moot point, anyway. Thanks to pending regulations in the European Union, we might have that insight within the next few years. Should this legislation pass, both Meta and Google would be required by law to: 

  • Reveal to the public how their content algorithms work
  • Establish a clear process for users to contest content moderation decisions
  • Define mechanisms to be adopted during public security or public health emergencies. 
  • Pledge to stop allowing targeted ads based on sexuality, religion, or ethnicity.
  • Pledge to stop allowing targeted ads directed at minors. 

If the EU is successful in this, the implications would be enormous. SEO and marketing professionals would finally get what we’ve wanted for decades—a genuine peek behind the curtain. As for the AI-driven SEO solutions currently gaining popularity? 

With a thorough understanding of Google’s backend, they’ll only become more effective, efficient, and formidable. 

But we’re getting off track. Our initial question was whether or not it’s possible to predict the results of an algorithm update. As you’ve seen, the answer is yes, albeit with a few notable caveats. 

At the end of the day, all this pontification is ultimately a moot point, anyway. The one common thread in all of Google’s recent algorithm updates is an effort to promote better, more relevant, and more valuable content. What that means is that if you focus exclusively on your audience, and on providing them with what they’re searching for, the rest will eventually fall into place. 

For more info about all the latest developments in SEO, check out our blog!