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Alternative Search Engines Marketers Should Pay Attention To

vandenbeld-bas
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"It's all about Google." You hear this a lot, especially in Europe.

And its true. Google has amazingly high market shares in Europe. In the Netherlands, Google has almost 95 percent market share, while in the U.K. and France it's around 90 percent.

Hitwise and comScore regularly put out stats on search market share. But are they correct? They tend to compare Google to the usual suspects (Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, Ask, AOL, etc.).

But these search stats leave something out: the vertical search engines that don't index or try to index the entire web, but which focus on niches or types of content.

Let's look at some of the most popular alternative search engines that can't be found in the Hitwise lists, but should be on the radar of all search marketers.

YouTube

You'd think this one is obvious, but many people are still surprised to learn that YouTube is the second largest search engine. More people search on YouTube than Yahoo or Bing.

Not convinced? Here's what attendees at SES Chicago learned last week:

  • We watched more videos on YouTube last month (14.2 million) than we conducted Google searches (10.6 million).

  • There are 1.5 million business-oriented queries on YouTube every week.

  • All videos will be transcribed, searchable, and indexable in the near future, which will make YouTube an even more powerful search engine.

Video is hot and YouTube is the place to be at the moment. So optimize your YouTube videos and make use of that channel.

Plus, there's an extra bonus: Google uses (mostly YouTube) videos in their universal search results, which means there is another possibility of making it to Page 1 of Google's results. In fact, chances of getting a video there are a lot higher than getting a new page there.

Mobile (Location-based) Applications

Mobile is hot. We just learned that mobile searches in the U.K. grew 247 percent.

This huge number shows that we need to keep our eyes open for mobile search. But mobile search is a lot more than Google.

People are looking up lots of stuff on their mobile devices when on the road -- such as train times, or the cost of a house they just saw while walking down a particular street. In these areas (and many more), location based applications will be playing a bigger part in the future.

Applications like Layar already give you the opportunity to find, for example, the nearest ATM -- a good way for banks to brand their products. But there's more.

Different layers give different options. With all the candy shops online, would you want to be the one that isn't on that list?

One of the location-based applications you should keep an eye on is Foursquare. Though "checking in" to become a "mayor" of a place seems childish, there are lots of opportunities there.

What do people do when they check in? They are searching for the location where they are. And what you then get to see is locations around you. Which mean you can trigger searchers on Foursquare to change their actual physical location to your place, as long as you have optimized it well.

It still surprises me that if I check in somewhere in the neighborhood of other interesting places, I don't get to see much smarter "titles" of places or tips or to-dos from companies. Several companies are missing a lot of opportunities here!

iTunes

Remember the time when you used iTunes solely for buying and organizing your music? Seems like only yesterday.

But there's a lot more to iTunes than just music. It's one platform for content owners to spread their content.

The most familiar one will be podcasts and video podcasts (or vodcasts). With video becoming more important, that last one is becoming more interesting.

One of the best places to look for podcast or vodcasts is iTunes. Marketers who optimize their descriptions, titles, and tags will get a lot out of iTunes.

Plus, iTunes isn't just for iPods and music. You can get your apps, your books, and more in front of potential clients on the iPad and other mobile devices.

Twitter

You probably already use quite a lot. For example, if you use TweetDeck, you most probably have columns set up to follow specific topics or people.

What you're doing there is actually searching. Searching for topics. Something that many people do.

When you're attending an event, you'll probably search on the hashtag for that event (e.g., #SESChi for SES Chicago). But have you ever realized that not all the tweets with that specific hashtag have to be coming from the event itself?

Hashtags are a good way of grabbing the attention from people interested in a specific topic. Do a bit of research on what people are talking about and interested in and you'll be able to attract some different search-traffic than you would have when just focusing on Google!

Facebook

The biggest social network partners with Bing. So, in a way, every search you do on Facebook is a Bing search.

But it's only within Facebook, right? Wrong.

The Like buttons that Facebook introduced not so long ago have a stunning effect on what happens in Facebook searches. When you have an article on your blog with a Like button next to it, it will take only about four to seven Likes to get your blog showing up within Facebook search results.

Facebook Search

The traffic might not be too high yet, but expect searches within Facebook to grow.

Go For It!

So, these are all "alternative" search engines. Most of them are pretty obvious, right? No surprise there?

Are you making use of these search opportunities yet? Huge opportunities are knocking on your front door here. And yes, people acknowledge them, but too few marketers actually use them.

Go for it! See you on Foursquare!


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