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Beyond Google and Bing: How to Expand Your Digital Footprint With Alternative Search Engines

Steve Susina • February 29, 2016

By Edwin Romero, SEO Analyst

At the highest level, search engines are databases relying on user queries as an input to trigger a sequence of results based on ranking or search algorithms. Google and Bing have become synonymous with what search engines are in the U.S., but other sites and services growing in popularity have adapted search models to improve their service and personalize user experiences.

Whether you are a sizeable B2C organization or a more modest brick and mortar, there are opportunities to expand your digital footprint with alternative search engines. Understanding their respective ranking factors will help maximize your brand visibility. That’s right, other search engines have ranking criteria. Below, is an outline of these alternative search engines alongside their factors.

YouTube: Video Search Engine

Ranking Factors: Meta Data, Video Quality, Views, Likes, Shares, Links, Subtitles & Closed Captions, Branding

YouTube is a Google property and one of the largest search engines, behind Google. Organizations and individuals have made use of the video titan as a marketing channel to grow major followings and create business models. For brands, the opportunities around YouTube are widespread in that users are turning to the channel as a traditional Google-esque search engine. For example, users search for videos around reviews, education, and even How-To videos—relying on the channel beyond the conventional video format purposes, as stated by Google.

Ranking well for a YouTube video or channel is similar to ranking well for a webpage or site – it must remain relevant (as evident in the use of proper video titles, meta data, descriptions, etc.) and provide a quality experience for users (as evident in the use of likes, shares, and YouTube’s video quality assurance, etc.)

Facebook: Social Search Engine

facebookRanking Factors: Upwards of 100,000 ranking signals through machine learning – Previously used EdgeRankand now uses machine learning algorithm

There is no doubt that Facebook has become a major component in reaching new and existing consumers, building brand loyalty, and having users convert. The platform has become more than a mere social interaction tool and has turned into a data mine wherein users can find people, news, and businesses. As such, users search differently within Facebook than within Google and Bing. There are no page titles, linking strategies, or site hierarchies. Rather, Facebook has moved from employing its popular EdgeRank algorithm, to a series of factors based on machine learning to decide what appears in one’s newsfeed (and, I speculate, internal search results).

Unlike Google, which aims to crawl and catalog information, Facebook is in the business of cataloging relationships and personal connections. That being so, in determining what to depict in newsfeed and search results, Facebook leverages a multitude of factors ranging from how you interact with content, pages, and friends, and how your friends interact. Because individuals vary in nature, it comes as no surprise that the number of ranking factors within Facebook are innumerable and may vary from person to person.

Amazon: Consumer Goods Search Engine

Ranking Factors: Title, Product Descriptions, Search Terms, Reviews

Brands have acknowledged the juggernaut that Amazon has become and the effect it has on reaching a wider audience beyond conventional channels. Consumers hold a level of trust with Amazon and reap several of its perks. It’s this reason that brands should learn to leverage Amazon’s A9 search engine that powers its product, visual, cloud, and local search.

Similar to Google’s ranking algorithm, Amazon depends on the title and description of products, as well as reviews as a means to gauge consumer satisfaction and relevancy. Additionally, Amazon’s product search algorithm takes into consideration search patterns and adapts based on user behavior and input.

Because Amazon takes into account relevant products and reviews within its ranking factors, they can be referred to as a search engine for product reviews. That is, users visit Amazon product pages to read and learn about product details, flaws and strengths, impacting their view of a brand and its product.

Yelp: Crowd-sourced Reviews Search Engine

yelp-logo (1)Ranking Factors: Reviews, Star Ratings, Number of Reviews, Company Description, Location

Yelp has made a serious dent in the manner in which consumers interact with local businesses. People are more likely to visit a business and convert if there are testimonials on the quality of goods and services. As such, Yelp is a must to any B2C organizations that have brick-and-mortar locations.

Similar to other channels, Yelp depends on search phrasing, or keywords, in determining what gets ranked within search results. Because the platform utilizes reviews in the form of user generated content and because ranking depends, in part, on keyword usage, businesses should strongly encourage users to provide reviews. Users write the content that can help you rank higher within Yelp.

Above you have four key channels where customers can search for your business, all of which depend on mathematical computations to provide an output that is tailored for a user. These algorithms are meant to provide the most ideal searching experience, and as a business, you can take steps to ensure your brand is found.  While Google, Bing, and other search engines continue to value the familiar search signals you have undoubtedly built your growth campaigns around, it’s essential to keep a close eye on alternative search options. The examples mentioned above continue to find new ways to cut into Google’s search market share just by being easy to use, effective, and thus, popular. It’s important to build into your current campaigns’ optimization around the appropriate signals on these alternative search sources.

Edwin Romero is an SEO Analyst at LYONSCG. He has engaged in varying digital consulting services including content strategy and marketing, reputation management, link building, measurement planning, and competitive analysis. Edwin loves comedy, movies, music, and everything in between. You can find him on Twitter @edwindanromero or on LinkedIn.

Steve Susina

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Steve Susina

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