While Google is a popular search engine, it isn’t the only one in the global market. There are other international search engines that no doubt have a smaller slice of the online search pie, but still, pull in a respectable number of monthly searches. Some of these search engines also enjoy more usage in certain countries than Google!
If you were to overlook these international search engines, you could potentially miss out on a lot of organic traffic to your website – and accordingly, a lot of revenue. Optimizing your website for as many of these search engines as possible should therefore be part of your global search engine optimization (SEO) strategy if you want to expand your international customer base. There are also ways to see what the Google search results look like for a different country, which could provide valuable insight into your strategy.
So what are these search engines? Keep reading as we share the top international search engines in 2023 and how you can optimize your website for them.
Why optimize your website for international search engines?
What would you do if you have a question on something but don’t know who to ask? You’d fire up your favorite search engine to look up the answer online.
And this demonstrates the role that search engines can play in any business’s marketing strategy. These web portals act as gateways, connecting searchers to businesses that can supply the information, products, or services they’re looking for.
In particular, international search engines are search engines that serve users in multiple geographical regions and countries. They offer localized results based on the user’s location, language settings, and possibly even past search history.
For example, if an internet user in Paris, France, were to do a web search for “cafés near me,” an international search engine would display a list of cafés in Paris. In contrast, an internet user in New York in the United States who does the same search would likely get a list of cafés in New York instead.
Businesses that maintain a strong presence on the international search engine results pages (SERPs) can pull in website visitors from not just their main country of operation, but from all over the world! Optimizing your website for international search engines can hence help you increase international awareness of your brand, grow your global customer base, and ultimately gain more sales.
Which are the top search engines in the world and how can you optimize your website for them?
You can’t optimize your website for international search engines if you don’t know what these are. So here’s a list of the best search engines in the world and website optimization tips for each of them:
You’re probably familiar with Google, but we’ll still cover it for completeness. What started as a Stanford University research project has now evolved into the world’s largest search engine, capturing an incredible 92% of worldwide desktop market share as of June 2021. Alphabet – the company that owns the Google search engine – also regularly makes improvements to help Google deliver the most relevant search results to users.
From your search keyword, for example, Google will determine the best type of content to show you – be it a link to a website article, a video tutorial, an image, or a map location, to name a few. The search engine giant can also help provide its own answers to certain queries relating to currency conversions, environmental temperatures, and math calculations, among other topics.
The Google search algorithm uses over 200 ranking factors to determine how to rank web pages for various search keywords. These include:
- Page experience: All else being equal, a web page that provides a good page experience is likely to rank higher than one that doesn’t. Things that contribute to a good page experience include the mobile-friendliness of a web page, page load speeds, and whether there are intrusive interstitials (i.e., pop-ups that obstruct the content on the page).
- Keyword usage: Google considers the keywords you’ve used on your web pages to decide which keywords to rank your web pages for.
- Backlinks: The more websites that have linked to your website, the more authoritative your website may appear to Google – which may then boost your rankings.
- HTTPS encryption: For ranking purposes, Google favors websites that use strong HTTPS encryption over those that don’t. HTTPS is also a signal that contributes toward page experience.
Keep these ranking factors in mind as you optimize your web pages for the highest-possible Google rankings.
Having around 8% of worldwide desktop market share, Microsoft Bing – or just “Bing” for short – is the most popular search engine after Google. Developed by Microsoft, Bing is naturally the default search engine for Microsoft Edge, which is the company’s proprietary web browser. Bing also helps power other search engines such as Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo (more about these search engines later).
Microsoft has published a set of Bing Webmaster Guidelines to help website owners optimize their websites for Bing. Factors you’ll want to pay attention to include:
- Sitemap availability: Submitting your website’s sitemap to Bing can help the search engine’s web crawlers understand your website structure and files, and hence how to best rank your website for various search terms.
- Content value: Create content for humans, not search engines. Among other things, Microsoft recommends making your content easy to navigate, unique instead of being copied from other sources, and useful for users.
- Use of HTML tags: The accurate use of title, link, meta description, and other HTML tags can help Bing learn the structure of your web pages.
- Freshness: Bing prioritizes serving content that is up to date and relevant to searchers. Accordingly, you’ll want to keep your web pages “fresh” with the latest information.
While popular in the 1990s, the Yahoo! search engine has largely fallen out of favor since. It commands a worldwide desktop market share of about 2.5%, and has a presence in countries such as Australia, France, Ireland, Mexico, the United States, and Vietnam.
Yahoo Inc., which maintains the Yahoo! search engine, doesn’t operate its own web crawlers – instead, it outsources the work to other companies. It’s a bit of a long story, but Yahoo Inc. has worked with Microsoft to have Bing power its search engine before briefly switching allegiances to display Google search results. Since then, however, Yahoo Inc. has gone back to having its search engine powered by Bing.
With this in mind, you’re automatically optimizing your website for Yahoo! if you’re optimizing it for Bing. But Yahoo Inc. has also shared some best practices for ranking on its SERPs, such as:
- Making your URLs readable: In other words, your URLs should be descriptive of their web pages. Avoid using gibberish-looking URL slugs like “website.com/dlkj239afaldf.”
- Adding alt text to images: Such text helps Yahoo! understand your images and thus rank them more appropriately for image search queries.
- Using accurate page titles: Your web pages’ titles should be relevant to their contents. These titles should also be optimized to match the search terms that people are using.
This search engine may have a more unusual name, but don’t disregard it for this reason. User privacy is its main selling point, where DuckDuckGo does not monitor users’ search histories as they use its search engine. (Some search engines track search histories to determine which search results to display to users, or to serve them targeted ads later on.) The company claims that all searches and browsing histories generated through its search engine are completely anonymous.
Launched in 2008, DuckDuckGo has steadily been gaining users since. According to the official DuckDuckGo website, the company clocks an average of six million desktop and mobile device downloads, and processes over three billion user searches, every month. DuckDuckGo is also a built-in search engine option in Safari (from iOS 8 onward) and Mozilla Firefox browsers.
DuckDuckGo relies on Bing to power a portion of its search results, so the guidelines on optimizing for Bing also apply here. However, DuckDuckGo also has its own web crawlers. To enhance your website’s visibility on its search engine, it can help to:
- Optimize for Instant Answers: These are snippets of information that DuckDuckGo generates to provide users with answers directly on the SERPs. Instant Answers are open source and the company welcomes developers to contribute to them.
- Raise your journalistic standards: If you run a news website, you’ll want to pay special attention to this ranking factor. DuckDuckGo assesses a website’s history of journalistic standards when deciding how high to rank it for news-related searches. A website proven to have “extremely low” journalistic standards, and that publishes clickbaity or spammy content, is likely to get marked down.
Geographical region-specific search engines to pay attention to
So far, we’ve explored the leading search engines that enjoy global popularity. Next, we’ll share some search engines that are especially well used in specific countries.
Despite their more modest user bases, these alternative search engines are also worth optimizing your website for – particularly if your business operates in the countries in which they enjoy more usage:
With China’s massive population, serving the Chinese market can significantly boost your customer base. If you have such aspirations, take steps to optimize your website for Baidu, the leading search engine in China.
Naturally, you’ll want to make your website content available in Chinese if it isn’t already. (Your content should also be in Simplified Chinese, by the way – not Traditional Chinese.) Other things you should do when optimizing your website for Baidu searches include:
- Use descriptive subheadings that inform readers what the following paragraphs of information are about.
- Embed high-quality images that are pleasing to the eye, even if they have been processed with filters and text.
- Submit your links to the Baidu search engine (although submission does not guarantee that your links will be indexed).
Baidu also provides pointers on what not to do, such as:
- Producing low-quality content that offers little value to the reader.
- Displaying outdated content, including store pages promoting out-of-stock products.
- Retaining broken links in web pages that direct users to 404 error pages or similar.
Businesses targeting the Russian market will want to optimize their websites for Yandex. Although Yandex has only about 1% worldwide desktop market share, it is one of Russia’s most popular search engines. For a website to rank well on this Russian search engine, it should abide by guidelines such as:
- Setting up a sitemap for Yandex’s robots to learn your website’s structure and contents, and then crawl these appropriately.
- Enforcing strong website security for visitors, as Yandex may deprioritize the ranking of websites on which it has detected security threats.
- Publishing useful content, where website owners can use Yandex’s Yandex. Metrica tool to gauge how visitors will behave on their web pages and hence identify areas for improvement.
- Using good content presentation like displaying text neatly and splitting it into multiple paragraphs.
- Obtaining quality backlinks such as links from reputable websites. Yandex may not place much weight on links from spammy-looking web directories. Where possible, anchor texts for links should also be descriptive.
Google dominates in most of the world, but not South Korea – where it is the Naver search engine that comes in first place. 56% of monthly active users in South Korea use it for their searches, giving it the highest search engine market share in the country.
Apart from its standard search engine functionality, it also has other services such as Knowledge iN, where anyone can post questions and have them answered by others. Meanwhile, Naver Encyclopedia allows users to browse encyclopedia entries created by experts.
Ways of optimizing your website for Naver include:
- Registering the website with Naver, verifying your ownership of the website, and submitting your website’s sitemap to Naver’s Webmaster Tools.
- Adding relevant keywords to your content while taking care to avoid keyword stuffing, i.e., overusing keywords such that your content sounds unnatural when read.
- Displaying text on web pages themselves instead of embedding them in images. This is because Naver’s search crawlers have trouble recognizing text in images. If your images do need to contain text, Naver recommends using concise alt text that states what such text is.
- Creating original website content rather than copying content created by others.
Get started with international search engines
Whether you intend to optimize your website for Google, DuckDuckGo, Naver, or any of the other international search engines we’ve shared here, certain best practices generally apply across the board. These include:
- Creating valuable content and building high-quality backlinks to them: Cultivate relationships with bloggers or other website owners in your industry, then work with them to have them link to your website. The more helpful your content is, the more likely others will want to link to it.
- Using proper website structure and design: Not only will doing so help search engines better crawl your content, but you’ll also entice users to stay on your website for longer. For example, tap on visual hierarchy rules to emphasize certain content, and design your website for right-to-left languages if it is meant for visitors who read such languages.
- Incorporating a mobile-first design: With people conducting more online searches through their mobile phones, search engines have begun prioritizing the indexing of websites’ mobile versions over their desktop equivalents. You should therefore design your web pages with mobile users in mind.
- Reducing your page load times: The quicker your pages load, the better the user experience you provide. Search engines may then reward you by ranking you higher in the SERPs. Methods of helping your pages load faster include setting up browser caching and using a content delivery network.
And if you intend to reach users in certain countries through online searches or other means, it also pays to translate your website content and keywords! When you do so, website visitors in these countries can better understand your business and what you’re selling. It’s only with such knowledge that they can engage with your business, such as ordering your products or hiring your services. Using advanced machine learning technology, the Weglot website translation solution instantly translates and localizes web pages with a high degree of accuracy. It supports the translation of over 110 languages and also works seamlessly with leading website builders such as WordPress, Webflow, and Shopify.
Sign up for free here to try Weglot on your website.