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search-engine-logosWhether you’re a copywriter, marketer or fully fledged SEO ninja, the chances are that your optimisation will be primarily focused on the larger search engines.

More people use Google and Bing, so they’ll be your primary sources of revenueHowever, there comes a time in every campaign's life when results level off. At times like this it’s worth taking time to consider other search engines.

There’s is no shortage of them available, and while they don’t have quite the same audience share, they can still provide you with a healthy traffic boost.

Before you dive in however, you need to remember that different engines crawl for slightly different content. Relevant, quality content with solid search phrases will always work well, but for PPC you’ll definitely need to consider other factors and tweak your campaign accordingly.

Here’s a few ways you can maximise your results on alternative search engines.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

Remember, every engine is going to provide slightly different results.

Even major campaigns can experience vast differences across Google and Bing, so make sure you have a dedicated account manager on hand and run carefully through each engine you intend to target.

If you have a successful campaign to use as a blueprint then by all means do so, but be prepared to rejig it extensively along the way. 

Make sure you take note of your best existing traffic sources so you can target them and avoid dead ends.

Don't overdo it

Optimisation is key, but you can have too much of a good thing. You may have laser-targeting for Google, but again, each new engine will require different keywords and sources so be prepared to loosen your parameters and experiment.

If you have 50 clicks from a source and no sales, then the initial reaction is to dump the source, but stop and think about your overall conversion rate before you do this.

If you are seeing 2% conversions then you need larger figures before you can really write anything off, so don’t over-block or over-target.

Watch your overheads

If you’re only receiving one or two conversions then it may seem wise to stop targeting that source.

Before you do though, measure the actual amount of money those customers spent with you. If you are paying a low rate for a few high paying conversions then it’s still worth it.

Be generous

With smaller engines you can usually pay less for productive keywords, but don’t be tempted to bid under the odds.

Although the overall volume will be lower, you’ll still get out what you put in, so be prepared to invest properly at the start of your campaign and then rethink things when the numbers start to come in.

PPC campaigns need to be flexible, but balance this against solid metrics first.

Track everything and everyone

Make sure you set up detailed conversion tracking from the off. Just because you’ve assigned a large section of your budget to two or three words, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ditch them if they aren’t providing results quickly enough.

Think about the search engines user base and key demographics when choosing keywords, you may need to optimise around completely different terms.

Stranger Danger

Finally, remember that a new search engine means new infrastructure and business practices.

You may be used to working with Google or Microsoft, but don't assume that every search engine does business in the same way, so make sure you have internal and external fraud tracking in place so that you are protected.

There are plenty of free third-party fraud detection systems available so any reputable search provider should be able to offer adequate assurance against fake clicks.


Building a successful campaign on any search engine is a challenge, but one that can be overcome by taking time to understand the community using it.

Different engines prioritise different material and some target specific subject matter, so make sure you’ve done your research and feel that your product is a good match for the service before you commit your PPC budget.

Matt Owen

Published 11 August, 2010 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Simon

Happy to be proved wrong, but in my experience SEO means optimising for google.

The other search engines generate so little traffic that it just isn't worth the time worrying about them for either ppc or organic search ?

aren't all "major" seach engines now using roughly the same algorithm to rank pages - ie keywords + backlinks ?

about 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Fair point Simon, but I'd still say that the traffic from alternative engines shouldn't be overlooked, there's a fair whack of very niche traffic to be found, especially if you can find a search engine that deals with the specific audience you are chasing - there are plenty that are optimised for (for example) music or video fans, financial interest groups etc, It's definitely worth having a look if you need a refresher boost in traffic.

about 6 years ago

Antoine Becaglia

Antoine Becaglia, Digital Strategist at WebPropaganda Ltd

quote: "If you have 50 clicks from a source and no sales, then the initial reaction is to dump the source"... I d' say dump whoever is in charge of your call to action on the landing pages or change your products/pricing strategy... the source is not responsible for not converting sales on any websites pages...

about 6 years ago

John Braithwaite

John Braithwaite, Managing Director at Ergo Digital

Seems like it's a bit too blurry between SEO and PPC... I think this article is mainly about PPC / Advertising, not SEO. Yet, the vast bulk of 'alternative' search engines embed Google ('Search Network') or Yahoo! (but less so and probably continuing to diminish).

So, is this article about using the Search Network equivalents or tying up direct deals with sites / search engines, many of whom are NOT carrying any direct booking space?

Not sure...

about 6 years ago

Peter Leatherland

Peter Leatherland, Online Sales Manager at Ethical Superstore

I never bother doing anything specific for Bing, I just focus on Google. Bing however seems to be much easier to rank in, more reliant on on-site optimisation than Google so I generally do better in Bing anyway with little effort. however despite ranking really well in Bing for some of my sites the traffic is still nowhere near what I can get from being lower down in Google.


I wish everyone did use Bing then I would be in the money!

about 6 years ago

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Richard

SEO =/= PPC as for search engine optimization--to Peter the poster above, Google is much harder to optimize for you're correct. Have you noticed though that your high ranking bing keywords, also rank in Yahoo? It's pretty awesome, but at the same time for an SEOer--not good to have your clients asking why you're focusing on Yahoo and Bing and not Google.

about 6 years ago

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