You really can’t talk about SEO without also talking about Google. The tech giant is synonymous with search and SEO, and for good reason as it dominates the search engine market. Currently, it accounts for over 85% of the global search market. So it’s safe to say that if you’re optimizing your store, you’re likely thinking about how to improve your ranking with Google.
However, these days there’s more to search than just Google. While there’s no real immediate risk to their number one position in the market, there are other search engines with sizable audiences. And that’s even more true once you start breaking down that global market share by country and region.
It may not be shocking to say there are other search engines. However, the nature of search and how we engage with it is changing thanks to new platforms powered by AI and social media. These may not be what we think of as traditional search engines, but they’re making an impact in the world of search.
Let’s look at some of the other major players in the traditional search engine market, plus the platforms to watch as search evolves.
6 other search engines to be aware of
Before we dive into the below search engines, let’s answer a key question - if Google dominates the global market, why bother learning about other search engines?
The answer is all about understanding. By knowing what else exists in the search engine market, you’ll be better informed as you go about your own strategy. While Google is usually the focus for SEO, there are still user bases of potentially millions of people who you want to reach on these other platforms. As we’ll come to learn, in certain regions of the world there are other search engines which are big business.
And if you plan to enter certain global markets, that makes it even more important to understand what other platforms exist beyond Google. By optimizing for other search engines, you’ll better reach your target audience, allowing them to discover your brand on the platform they use most.
Perhaps the next most well known search engine after Google, Bing is Microsoft’s answer to global search queries. Globally, Bing accounts for just over 8% of the search market. However, if you start to dig into country and region specific market share, that figure is very different. In the USA, for example, Bing accounted for over 25% of search queries in 2022.
The SERP for Bing is very similar to Google, providing users with a familiar experience. However, it uniquely offers a “Rewards” feature, which allows users to earn points just by searching, shopping, and engaging with the Bing platform. Bing was also the first major search engine to incorporate AI into its platform; its AI powered chat feature is available to those using their Edge browser.
Yahoo may be powered by Bing, but that hasn’t stopped it maintaining its 3rd top global market position. It currently holds 11% of the US market, but that isn’t even the market where it’s most popular. In Japan, Yahoo accounts for 24% of the search market behind Google! Yet in the UK, it only accounts for around 0.4% of the market.
Yahoo also offers additional features, with its homepage featuring up-to-date regionalized news, as well as weather and more. As well as search, it also offers email services. In general, Yahoo is a good example of where diving deeper into market share by country can be eye-opening. Especially if you’re going to enter specific markets, it isn’t enough to assume Google is your only platform for search.
If you haven’t heard of Yandex, it’s probably because you’re not searching from within the Russian Federation. It accounts for about 2% of the global market, but it’s the primary platform for search in Russia making up around 63% of the market.
Yandex has many of the same features as a typical search engine as well as services like email. The company behind the search engine has also expanded into browser and mobile games, as well as AI assistants, and even autonomous vehicles. This is another good example of a low global market share platform with very high usage in specific regions.
Privacy is a growing concern for many internet users - it’s why we have seen search engines like Google move towards a first and zero-party approach to data. That desire for greater privacy when browsing online is precisely DuckDuckGo’s unique selling point to search users.
DuckDuckGo’s competitive advantage is that it doesn’t track, collect, or store user data. They still show ads, but these aren’t personalized in the same way as they would be with user data. This means users are free to search and browse without the fear that their data is being stored and used in a way they aren’t comfortable with. DuckDuckGo is a good example of a search engine that’s creating a major point of difference, and focusing on a niche. That being said, it isn’t a major player yet in any one market.
Back to region specific search engines, Baidu dominates the Chinese market with over 60% of searches. And Google isn’t even in 2nd place - it follows behind Sogou, Bing, and Housou. Given China’s internet is heavily regulated, it’s probably not surprising that Baidu and other regional engines are more popular than Google.
Baidu is a good example of a region specific search engine that doubles as more of a “lifestyle” platform. It has services similar to Google with its own maps, email, and storage, but these are counted among over 50 different community features. Other features include its own version of Wikipedia called Baidu Baike, and a keyword-based forum board called Baidu Tieba. These features mean that it is more complex to optimize for Baidu, but if you’re targeting the Chinese market then they’re worth exploring.
Rounding out our list, Naver is the 2nd most popular search engine in South Korea. And when we say 2nd, it’s a very close contest with Google claiming 48% and Naver 41%.
We’ve looked at a couple of region specific search platforms already, but Naver takes things a step further. It’s a localized search engine, meaning that instead of crawling and indexing the entire internet for content it focuses on Korean content. It’s also largely only available in Korean, whereas most regional search engines have an English equivalent.
In many ways, its additional features on top of search are more focused than Google. Naver Maps, for example, is more developed than Google especially when it comes to public transport information. It can also be used as a review platform with social media elements, as a digital storefront for brands, booking for events and hospitality, and other community features.
From TikTok to ChatGPT - the new players in search?
In very recent years, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that traditional search engines aren’t the only players in the search game. As new technologies and platforms emerge, the way we engage with search and finding answers is changing.
Back in summer 2022, Google data suggested that almost half of young people were using platforms like TikTok and Instagram instead of Google to find new places to eat and visit. As time went on, these audiences also indicated that they were using social media platforms to research new brands. This gave way to a new wave of “social search”, with the results being far more engaging and relevant than what users could find on traditional search engines. They can view product reviews from peers, learn more about different brands in a very short space of time, and find out what the latest must-have products are all on social media. This hyper-relevant content is something that is hard for search engines to compete with, especially when it can often take months for content to reach the first page of search results.
Also in late 2022, AI was making headlines once again thanks to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The generative AI technology was so advanced that it had people questioning how it may change search. After all, if someone wanted an answer to a question they could just ask ChatGPT and get as concise or as detailed an answer as they’d like without trawling through pages of content. In early 2023, Bing even launched an AI assistant powered by ChatGPT - admittedly this was with mixed results in its early days. Now, it is a major new feature that comes pre-built with Microsoft Edge. Google is even testing how it can use generative AI as part of the search experience. Now with OpenAI’s GPT-4 in the world, the tech world is still looking for ways to reinvent search using AI.
AI is also making its way into affecting transactional search intent. Earlier in 2023, Shopify launched its ShopAI assistant tool also powered by ChatGPT. This allows users to ask questions to help them find products, and ShopAI will pull examples of products that might suit their needs. Rather than trawling through search results, users of ShopAI can get an instant list of suitable products.
These technologies and platforms are still evolving, but it’s clear that the future of search may not lie with traditional search engines.
The world of search and SEO is bigger than Google, and it’s always changing. Being aware of the wider landscape of search engines and other technology that may impact search will deepen your understanding of your own strategy and your optimization efforts.