When you hear the term search engine, you automatically think of Google. And why not? Google has become the master of their domain, so to speak, boasting 3.5 billion searches per day and totaling 1.2 trillion searches per year globally. While Google serves as a fantastic search engine, the internet is vast and enterprising, with multiple search engine resources to help guide users to the precise information they are inquiring about. Google is not the only game out there, and in certain cases, there may be more optimal search tools to find what you need. Hundreds of search engines exist worldwide, but we are going to explore the most useful ones for both businesses and local search capabilities.
Businesses of all sizes need visibility. Your online presence is a survival tool, and your citations are of great significance. Gone are the days of Yellow Pages listings being enough. In the digital age, businesses need to be featured across multiple online and mobile-friendly directories, in addition to maintaining a strong presence across social media channels. The key is to zero in on the right directories to feature your business to go along with your digital marketing strategy.
A History of Search Engines: Abridged
The first search engine was launched in 1990 by Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal. He named the search engine Archie, as an adorable abbreviation of the word archives, and from that point on the concept of digital search was born. Over the years, search has evolved from indexing public files on FTP servers to exploring just about anything in mere seconds.
Bing is the preferred search engine for millions of people every day. This free Microsoft product is second only to Google regarding the number of queries. A great tool for businesses, the Bing Places for Business allows brands to add multiple locations, photos/videos, a ‘posts’ feature, and important information for citations. Bing is the default search engine for Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer users, making it easily accessible and convenient for search. Bing has increased speed and capabilities over the years, optimizing it for all your search needs.
Yahoo!’s listing services attract millions of searches on a daily basis. Yahoo!’s Small Business channel provides services like Local Marketing and Localworks. Yahoo! Local Basic Listing is free and allows a business to enter information like phone number, address, and description. Localworks is a subscription-based service through Yahoo! allowing your listing to be featured across more than 40 directories and lets you track your analytics.
This rapidly growing Chinese website and search engine is constantly expanding its reach and enhancing its technology. More than 93% of Baidu’s visitors are based in China, but as of September 2017, the number of American-based users was 1.2% and growing. For the record, 1.2% of the US population is more than 3 million people. If a user enters a query for Orlando, Florida, the SERP will display sites in both English and Chinese around travel to Orlando, FL. Baidu is considered Google’s biggest competition.
Yelp allows businesses to post their information including phone number, address, hours of operation, and pictures, as well as engage with customers by responding directly to reviews (both publicly and privately), create Yelp ads, and review customer activity and analytics.
Merchant Circle is a free platform for small businesses to engage with local customers. Businesses are able to advertise to increase their listings and utilize free marketing tools to help build clientele. Boasting more than 5 million merchants and millions of more consumers, the service allows you to build your digital footprint and help grow your business.
Everyone’s favorite directory in a convenient online platform. Yellow Pages enjoys a monthly audience of more than 80 million people, and the power of being a household name boosts its traffic to include millions of searches every day. Yellow Pages offers advertising, lead generation, and performance analytics.
This online directory serves millions of people searching for information about businesses, restaurants, and retailers. Superpages, an extension of Yellow Pages, is a comprehensive guide featuring maps and directions, customer reviews, and trip planning guides.
Using location intelligence, Foursquare is both a business directory and a social network that showcases consumer experiences with the use of maps, reviews, and ratings. Foursquare features more than 60 million registered users and 50 million monthly active users.
Representing 49 markets globally, TripAdvisor is one of the world’s most extensive travel sites. With 490 million monthly visitors and more than 730 million business reviews, TripAdvisor empowers travel and helps people figure out where to stay, what to eat, and what to do.
This college networking platform-turned powerful marketing tool has transformed millions of businesses across industries and across the world. Users increasingly rely on Facebook for local search, which helps generate data for businesses around vital components including demographics, location, behavior, and customer engagement. Facebook search is proximity-based and includes local businesses around the radius of a few miles. Facebook business pages are remarkably user-friendly and feature maps, directions, contact information, customer reviews, and check-ins.
The social media giant has roughly 500 million daily active users and more than 2 million advertisers. Instagram launched business profile capabilities in 2016 and already features more than 25 million business profiles. Instagram is an incredible channel for businesses to gain visibility and optimize SEO through the use of hashtags. Instagram users can use the search bar to discover interests and local businesses, as well as promote businesses through geotagging.
The social network boasts 330 million active users globally. Twitter performs more than 2 billion search queries every day, with people constantly searching for new and interesting things. Users can search hashtags and view promoted accounts to help connect to new brands. Twitter uses boolean operators to broaden search assets to make you and your brand more easily searchable.
The e-commerce-driven daily deal site enjoys 53 million unique customers on an international scale. The business offers help boost SEO signals, help local businesses rank higher, and drive traffic to company websites. The search bar allows customers to peruse multiple categories and multiple locations to help them explore local business deals that best suit their needs.
Available in all 50 states, Thumbtack allows users to search for various professional services. The site features more than 1,000 types of services for consumers. To date, Thumbtack has generated more than $1.7 billion in revenue for millions of customers, helping to boost local economies across the country. The site helps promote warm leads and boost visibility.
Better Business Bureau
Better known as the BBB, this consumer-driven site prides itself on building trust across industries. Consumers can search for multiple businesses and find reviews, complaints, and company information. More than 5.4 million businesses are featured across the website, which generates approximately 173 million visits per year.
Youtube is the second largest search engine. It’s exclusively available to personalities, brands, and businesses who produce videos. Youtube processes more than 3 billion searches every month, making it bigger than Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL combined. Content on the platform ranges from videos produced on mobile devices to high production value music videos, live-stream shows, TV commercials, and commercials made specifically for the web. It’s as much a landing place for video files as it is a streaming platform for discovering them.
A visual smorgasbord, this image-centric site launched in 2009. As users fell in love with this platform, brands took notice and learned how to capitalize on this unique channel. Pinterest evolved from a trending social network to a powerful visual search engine, allowing brands to optimize their presence to be found by users. Pinterest is a combination of search engine and targeted advertising tool, using keywords to guide users through discovery sessions. SEO on Pinterest is about utilizing the best categories, doing research into keywords for your pins and then using those keywords into your descriptions.
Google Maps guides customers to local businesses by generating both listings alongside step-by-step navigation. The function of maps serves to further simplify search, and make your business a destination. Businesses should always feature a map to help build an online presence and help respond to search queries. If someone is searching for a specific type of cuisine, retail offering or service close to them, Google Maps will help usher them to your business and boost visibility.
The explosion of Voice Search shows no signs of slowing down. The rise of virtual assistants makes search faster and easier than ever before, with 20% of all searches being voice-lead. Brands can take advantage of the more conversational search terms instead of targeting concise phrasing to queries. In voice search, only the top result is shared, so optimization of websites is vital to getting and maintaining a top ranking position.
As one of the world’s largest product search engines, Amazon is incredibly skilled at converting searchers into purchasers. More people start their product searches on Amazon, and it’s easy to understand why. With an easily navigable dashboard, mobile-friendly design and effective retargeting ads, Amazon has mastered the arena of online shopping. Millions of businesses and third-party sellers drive sales for the ecommerce giant.
People are actively searching and you want your brand to be easily discoverable. Google may be the most popular, but it’s not king in regards to building visibility and increasing traffic to your site. Businesses must evolve to not only be easy to find, but they also need the right information to easily find consumers. This means that search isn’t just about helping consumers find you; it’s about businesses finding consumers.