Google is the dominant force in Europe—there is no other search engine which even comes close to Google’s market share. As I wrote in my last article, Europe could use some competition for Google. Bing should be the designated search engine to become that big competitor, but for now that is not the case.
Despite its dominance, there are alternative search engines in Europe, and for search marketers they’re worth looking at. With Europe’s more than 800 million people, of whom about 60% spends time online, even a small percentage using alternatives to Google offer attractively large numbers, and targeting users of those search engines could be very profitable. Lets take a look at some of the alternatives.
UK and France: Bing
The UK offers the closest step from the US market to the European market. As in almost every country Google is the dominant force, but here we see that Bing is more popular than anywhere else. Bing now accounts for about 4% of the search market share in the UK. Adding Yahoo’s Bing-powered results can add another 4% making Bing a very good alternative to Google. Bing also is the “runner up” in many other European countries with France leading the way with a 2.8% share.
It therefore makes sense to optimize for Bing in Europe, but be careful: in many countries Bing is nothing more than Live Search with a Bing logo. You should take that in account. Optimizing for one Bing does not mean optimizing for another, at least yet.
Going from western Europe to eastern Europe you can’t overlook Yandex. This search engine is the dominant force in Russia where it even outranks Google with a 64% market share. This is extra special because Yandex is one of the few non-English-language search engines which is able to beat Google at its own game.
If you are targeting Russians, optimizing for Yandex is the best choice, not just because it has the biggest market share but also because it gets closest to how the Russians think. Yandex is able to recognize Russian inflection in search queries, which means that you can really understand the intent of the Russian user. Therefore, take extra care when it comes to keyword research. Get a native speaker to help you out here because Russian really differs from other languages. Also note that Yandex recently launched an English-only search engine.
Czech Republic: Seznam
Its not far from Russia to the Czech Republic, where Seznam is dominant. This search engine was originally a web portal but today is used primarily as a search engine. In the Czech language they beat Google in numbers when it comes to dominance in search. If you want to target the Czech Republic this is one search engine you cannot leave aside. Seznam, which means “list” in English, is the only real force to reckon with in the Czech Republic—perhaps not the biggest audience, but one of the most active ones in Europe.
Germany and Spain: Conduit
In Germany the second biggest search service after Google is T-Online. This really is a portal with Google-powered search engine. Therefore you can see it as an alternative but you will still be using Google. A real alternative is Conduit. This search engine, which also has quite the market share in South America, has a bigger market share in Germany than Bing or Yahoo. In Spain Conduit even has a larger market share: 2.9 percent.
The Netherlands: Vinden.nl
The Netherlands has a huge Google culture. No other engine can even come close to the market share of Google (94%). Vinden.nl still is a well known brand in Holland however. Vinden (“finding”) is said to have a 3% market share but also relies on some Google technology. Vinden.nl, as well as “startpagina” however also do it the old fashioned way: offering browsable lists, the good old directories so to speak.
These search engines are a few examples of alternatives for reaching your target audience in Europe. For each specific country there are of course more alternatives. For example, Onet.pl in Poland, Ask.com in the UK and the Nordic countries, Orange in France and even more local search engines in other regions.
What you have to keep in mind for all of these is that you optimize for each and everyone of them. Don’t think you are ready when you’ve optimized for one. You should also be aware of the cultural and linguistic differences between the countries and regions, as I wrote a year ago. For each country find your local experts and let them help you. Only then will those services with smaller market share potentially be more profitable than the big numbers from Google.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.