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Google has extensive tools for webmasters, and good SEO seems to be directed at Google first and foremost. But what other search engines should I be worrying about?

I could look at my logs, but then, if my site is poorly optimized for them, they may not be significant. How do I decide what search engines to cater to?

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5 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

If you:

  • Make HTML standards compliant pages
  • Make semantically correct documents (proper use of heading tags, lists, etc)
  • Make sure, as much as possible that all text can be parsed (i.e. try to avoid text in images)
  • Make sure all links work and site map(s) exist where appropriate
  • Make sure pages load quickly
  • Work to get inbound links from respected sites covering the same topic
  • Produce content that is useful and interesting to your intended audience

... your site will do well in almost any search engine, even some that you don't know exist. I was amazed to find that a significant amount of my traffic comes from yandex.ru, and people actually take the time to translate my tutorials once finding them.

Don't think of them as search engines, think of them as a series of lexical parsers and try to make their job as easy as possible. While their ranking algorithms vary, all of them do the same fundamental tasks of parsing the document structure and the text that it contains.

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I do not recommend building a site for a specific search engine. The key is to simply build your site to standard.

Make sure your working to make your customers happy and the rest will follow. Happy customers and great beautifully marked up content will produce back links and indexable web pages.

Yahoo, Google, or Bing the same rules apply. Use the right techniques and your golden.

Might want to read "Building Findable Websites" by Arron Walter, http://buildingfindablewebsites.com/

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You say "build your site to standard" -- so is that basically "Google's standard" ? –  artlung Jul 9 '10 at 4:42
    
I think he means HTML, CSS... standards and he's quite right. After all the most important thing in a page is its content and what search engines try to deliver is the best content for a certain query so I think people shouldn't worry so much about trying to trick Google & Co. into doing what they want and simply write quality content that will naturally do well in any search engine or human site directory simply because its quality! Part of writing good content is adhering to standards that give no accesibility problems and deliver a readable page in most if not all browsers. –  Omar Kohl Jul 9 '10 at 8:16
    
I mean on web standards or semantics. Content defined by good contextual markup. –  Thorn007 Jul 9 '10 at 21:05
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If you want the raw numbers...

Here's the market share of search engines.

Looks like Yahoo is second with Bing being third place.

If you look around that site more you can get metrics for mobile platforms, operating systems, browser versions, etc...

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The only engines that matter (for English content) are Google, Yahoo, and Bing - and soon enough, Bing's going to be powering Yahoo.

While you can get pretty technical about the ranking differences, practically speaking the on-page optimization process is the same.

Anecdotally, I've always found that Bing & Yahoo are easier to trick than Google...an exact match domain & some cheesy links will probably take you further in Bing than Google.

But, while backlink analysis / weighting / ranking is very sophisticated search engine stuff, on-page crawling of HTML is simple, and the basics of keyword labeling and logical architecture should cover you for any modern search engine.

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If you thought there were no other search engines of consequence than the Big 3, note that as per StatCounter Global Stats, Baidu is the most popular search engine in China while startpagina.nl & yandex.ru are second most popular in Netherlands & the Russian Federation respectively. So you may have to find from which geographies the majority of your site's visitors come from & then target the search engines that are popular in that region.

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