There have been a couple of old blog posts that we’ve published that deal with the differences between search engines. In some of those posts, we’ve drawn out those differences and nuances for the purpose of showing why some law firms could benefit more from marketing on one search engines, rather than another (and, of course, why you should hire a professional legal blogger and marketer).
Recently, a lawyer asked us an important question: How does one market on one search engine, rather than another?
Search Engines Generally Work the Same
Recall that each search engine – from Google to Bing to Yahoo! to DuckDuckGo – uses an algorithm to mechanically rank websites based on their relevance and importance for a given search query. In the grand scheme of things, these algorithms are largely the same. While there are small differences in how search engines rank pages, the results are not going to be groundbreaking, and are rarely even noticeable. Therefore, even if, hypothetically, Bing gives backlinks more weight than Google does, rushing out and successfully scoring loads of backlinks to your law firm’s website is still only going to have a marginal effect on the difference between your rankings on Bing and on Google.
What’s Different: Audiences
The big difference on search engine platforms turns out to be the people who use them. While Google is the general search engine of choice, certain people turn to Bing more often, while others tend to use DuckDuckGo.
The traits of the people who use different search engines can help you decide where to focus your time and marketing money: For example, if you run an estate planning firm in Florida, statistically, Bing’s audience is going to have more potential clients than Google’s.
How Does One Market on One Search Engine, Rather than Another?
Which brings us to our attorney’s question: How does one “focus” on one search engine?
Because Google is still the dominant search engine out there, the question typically only comes up when a law firm has determined that a greater percentage of its potential clients are on another platform.
Surveying Your Rankings
First, when you have decided to target one search engine’s userbase over another’s, you want to pay attention to your rankings on your targeted search engine, rather than Google’s. It seems obvious, but the practical implications are important: Most free ranking checker tools online only spit back your Google ranking. While this is great for seeing your Google ranking and giving you a general idea of where you are likely to stand on other platforms, it won’t let you see the differences between your performance on Google and your targeted search engine, which is kind of the whole point.
The takeaway: Make sure the tool you’re using to check your rankings is focused on your search engine of choice, rather than just Google.
Perhaps the most common strategy to “focus your marketing on search engine X” is through a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign on the targeted search engine. PPCs are those listings at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) with the orange box that says “Ad.” Unlike the rest of the organic listings, websites using PPCs are at the top of the SERP not because they have been deemed relevant and important by the search engine’s algorithms, but because the website owners have paid to put them there.
Importantly, PPCs are search engine specific: A PPC ad bought with Google’s Adwords program is only seen on Google, not other search engines.
And vice versa.
Targeting a particular search engine other than Google, therefore, often involves a healthy PPC campaign for choice keywords, because that funnels marketing money into obtaining search traffic from that particular search engine, only.
And then there’s the price. Shooting to the top of the SERP with a PPC ad can be expensive, particularly if the query you’re targeting with your ad is an especially popular one. Those prices, though, are drastically reduced once you get off of heavily-trafficked Google. Surveys comparing PPC campaigns on Google and Bing have found that taking out a PPC ad on Bing is between 33% less expensive and 42% less expensive than buying an identical ad on Google.
Finally, and particularly when it comes to Bing, the weaknesses inherent in PPC campaigns tend to be reduced off-Google: The older and less tech-savvy userbase of Bing is less likely to understand that the paid listings at the top of the SERP are advertisements, are more likely to click through to them, and are more likely to call your firm for help.