Yahoo and BingSEO experts talk incessantly about achieving sky-high rankings on Google, but what about the “other” search engines? Do Bing and Yahoo matter, or are you better served to have a narrow focus and make all efforts target Google?

Let’s look at the numbers. Recent statistics state that Google has about 62% of the search engine market share, worldwide. Bing, the second place search destination, has 9% and climbing. Yahoo holds roughly 5%, and for the most part, continues to lose steam. Sheer numbers would indicate you’d be best served by staying Google-centric, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye with search results.

Why You Shouldn’t Dismiss the Little Guys

Bing and Yahoo might not have the market share, but don’t count them out just yet. In some countries like the UK, Google’s market share is slipping, as Bing grabs more eyeballs daily. The two have joined forces in recent years, in some ways sharing their audiences, especially in the advertising arena. You can now import campaigns directly into Bing and Yahoo via Google Adwords, saving you the time of duplicating them across all search giants. Through targeted integration, Bing and Yahoo have increased their respective values.

Another reason to make friends with Bing and Yahoo – they have extremely loyal audiences. Bing especially is showing impressive retention, and since it has longevity as the original MSN search engine, many have stuck with it for the long haul. As it stands now, Bing appears to be growing in market share as well, thanks in part to the slow and steady climb of Windows 8. Since Bing is the default search engine on Windows 8, additional converts are imminent. Ignoring your ranking on Bing, at least, would not be a sound strategy for future growth.

Competition for high rankings is less cutthroat on Bing and Yahoo too, as compared to Google. Since the masses aren’t pulling out all the stops to rank high, as with Google, you have a better chance of gaining high traction for your selected keywords. Likewise, if you’re looking to advertise on any search engine, you’ll get far more click-throughs and overall value by advertising with Bing or Yahoo, depending on your audience.

Lastly, it’s important to note the Bing and Yahoo are, respectively, often far more popular in foreign countries. If you target an international demographic, it’s imperative you understand which search engines your audience is primarily using, and cater to them tenfold. You can also go for the gold and make sure you’re ranking high in all three. By focusing on these lesser known search engines, you thereby increase your exposure, and that’s always good for business.

The Differences in the Big Three

So how much do Bing and Yahoo differ from Google’s algorithms anyway? Because they all remain extremely mum about the details, that’s anybody’s guess (luckily, a lot of us are doing so in an educated fashion). Careful analysis shows that while the core principles of great SEO seem unanimous, there are certainly some differences in how they each choose the top rankings. This is actually good for businesses, as some tactics work well in some arenas, and others will boost you on alternate search engines. Diversity is a very good thing.

Universal SEO principles include fresh, quality content with keyword density (but don’t go crazy, especially in Google’s eyes), well-written and targeted tags, top level domains, and most importantly, relevant and abundant inbound and outbound links.

Yahoo outwardly recommends registering domains for more than a year at a time, and seems to favor older, frequently updated sites. Additionally, Yahoo seems to be much more forgiving with keyword density, and they may even still read meta data in some capacity. Because they aren’t the search engine giant, however, there are fewer studies on their algorithms to spring from, resulting in the necessity for a little trial and error.

Bing’s main focus appears to be link building, and since it’s a crucial SEO component for all the major search engines, this should be a primary element to your strategy. Bing, however, does not seem to give as much credence to link prominence or link density; two aspects Google weighs more heavily. But Bing is similar to Google in the way they give heavy credit to title tags, so continue to write these thoughtfully and strategically.

Final Words on the Optimum SEO Strategy

If you’re new to the world of SEO, don’t let all these details add undo stress. Stick to the core SEO basics of quality, fresh content, regular updates, and fabulous link building, and all three search engines will respond accordingly. As you learn the nuances, you may want to tweak your strategies to satisfy individual algorithms, but that doesn’t need to be a stressor out of the gate.

At the end of the day, all three of these players rank keywords differently. If you’re ranking high in Google and not so much on Bing and Yahoo, tread very, very carefully if you plan to make changes. Neither Bing nor Yahoo are currently worth damaging a high Google ranking in place for a high ranking on either one of them.

The short of it is simple: Google absolutely must be considered in your SEO strategy in the current day and age. Next, get to know your demographic; if your audience is using the alternate search engines with percentages high enough to move your revenues, then it’s time to devote some SEO strategies to the underdogs. There is, after all, more to life than Google!

By Tina Courtney-Brown