Figuring Out Which Search Engines Your Business Website Needs

Here’s a piece of good-news-bad-news if you are wondering which search engines to focus on when developing your business website. Only three sites — Google, Yahoo!, and Bing — generate 95 percent of the more than 17 billion monthly searches in the United States alone:

Site Search Percentage
Google Sites 65.4
Yahoo! Sites 16.1
Microsoft Sites (Bing) 13.6
Ask Network 3.2
AOL, Inc. 1.7

Source: "comScore qSearch: Explicit Core Search Share Report," February 2011, Total U.S. — Home/Work/University Locations

Google and Yahoo! together supply the results shown on the two minor search engines (Ask.com and AOL). To further complicate matters, in August 2010, Bing started powering part of the Yahoo! natural search and took over ongoing research into its search algorithms as well as the Yahoo! paid advertising program.

You can obtain maximum visibility for your site by submitting to only the top three search engines. It makes sense, however, to submit to 10 to 50 well-qualified, specialty directories used by your target market to obtain inbound links.

Ignore spammy e-mails promising submissions to hundreds or thousands of search engines. Those trivial search engines get little traffic, and the process might even harm your standing in the primary search engines. Also, delete any e-mail messages guaranteeing number-one search engine rankings. No legitimate SEO company makes this claim. Generating a number-one ranking on a keyword that’s rarely used is always possible.

Ranking by itself yields no profits. You can make money only after a search engine delivers qualified visitors to your doorstep.

Visit these URLs to start the submission process by hand:

  • Google feeds four other engines. For rapid indexing of new sites or new, time-dependent content, try Google’s new Fetch as Googlebot URL submission tool.

  • Yahoo! feeds three other engines.

  • Bing, the lone wolf, neither receives nor feeds other engines.

You can find much more on this topic in Search Engine Optimization For Dummies, by Peter Kent (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

The Google brand network is your choice for an older, business-oriented, slightly wealthier audience.

With so much attention showered on social media traffic, especially to Facebook, it’s easy to confuse visits with searches. By September 2011, the Experian/Hitwise list of “Top 10 visited US websites” showed Facebook, with a 10.2 percent share of weekly visits, overtaking Google (7.4 percent) and its property, YouTube (3.0 percent); assorted Yahoo! properties fill in positions 4, 5, and 6 for traffic.

Most people visit Facebook to keep up with their friends and family by posting messages, photos, and videos; they do not go to Facebook to search. Although people visit other sites as a result of recommendations from friends, advertising, or direct messages from businesses, this referral activity is relatively small compared to other Facebook activities.

Social networking is another component in your search marketing strategy, but it by no means replaces the need to optimize your website for Google and other search engines.

By early 2011, eMarketer reported on a study showing that a combination of search and social media may substantially increase CTR over the CTR of search alone. Product review sites are most often used in concert with search, followed by Facebook, video sharing sites, and Twitter.

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