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In a recent conversation with a client, I was asked: “Does it really matter if I buy ad space in Bing and Yahoo! search results? Doesn’t everyone just use Google?”
This got me thinking. In terms of organic search, following SEO best practice will help you rank in other search engines and not just the mighty Google. So a well-optimised page will score highly with all the major search engines.
But what’s best when it comes to buying paid ad space alongside search results? Should all your budget and analytical efforts be focused on Google?
According to Hitwise, in the month ending 17th April, 87.63% of UK searches were conducted through Google.co.uk and 3.57% through Google.com.
Compared to that enormous figure, Bing had 2.97% of the search share, Yahoo! 2.45% and Ask had a mere 1.40% of searches.
That’s a pretty compelling reason to focus your efforts on Google.
A customer is a customer
Of course, no matter where they come from, a customer is a customer.
The point to remember is that, with pay-per-click advertising, you only pay when a searcher clicks through to your pages. That means it doesn’t matter if there are more people using Google - you’re paying for customers that arrive at your pages.
Less popular search engines will still funnel customers to you.
The only cost that you might consider disproportionate is the analytics. It will take more of your SEO team’s time to manage paid search listings across several search engines, rather than simply Google – but there won’t necessarily be any additional financial benefit.
Although it may not make any difference to your income whether you’re gathering customers from one, two or more search engines, it will affect brand awareness.
People tend to stick with one search engine, only a very tiny minority switch around. That means that if you focus all your energy into Google, you leave a wide number of people who will simply never be exposed to your brand online.
Of course, that doesn’t matter for smaller businesses that simply want to get as many online customers as possible for the lowest amount of cash. However, bigger brands simply cannot afford to ignore a sizable minority of consumers in this way.
Imagine if McDonald’s utterly ignored Bing. Thousands of hungry non-Googlers would only ever see Burger King online, damaging the dominance of Ronald’s restaurants.
What’s right for you?
Like so many things in the search sector, what’s right for you depends on what you need. If your sole ambition is to get as many customers as quickly as possible for the least amount of effort and money, then sticking with Google is fine.
However, if you want to expand and grow in the online environment in order to build your brand, you should advertise on every possible platform.
The good news is that if your pages are well optimised then you’ll be visible organically across all the main search engines. That’s one investment that pays off every time, making it one of the best ways to spend your online budget.