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Go beyond Google: How to navigate alternative search engines for better SEM results

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The past 12 months have been challenging for marketers: Consumer habits were turned upside down due to COVID, Google announced the removal of third-party cookies – as well as threatening to pull its search engine from the Australian market altogether. While the latter didn’t eventuate, it had many businesses concerned about how they would navigate SEM and SEO in a world without Google. 

This highlights the importance of channel diversification – it’s crucial that marketers don’t place all their media eggs in the one proverbial basket. While we tend to build our online presence on a wide range of social media platforms, it may also be worth considering taking a similar approach to your Search Marketing strategy.

Despite Google’s impending removal of third-party cookies, many consumers are beginning to move towards alternative platforms as a way to protect their digital privacy. For example, DuckDuckGo, a search engine created specifically for this purpose, is now estimated at $901 million USD – processing around 3 billion searches every month and growing.

A more competitive search engine market is good news for marketers looking to diversify their reach and reduce their reliance on a single platform. This creates more opportunities to target consumers while they’re actively researching a particular product category.

To help you navigate this space, we’ve highlighted the key alternative players in the search engine market, providing insider tips on how to make the most out of each platform: 


Bing, our second-in-command search engine owned by Microsoft, launched in 2009. The brand name was chosen as a shortened version of the word ‘Bingo’, which someone might say during that special ‘moment of discovery’.

Bing came about after several rebrands, from MSN search, Windows Live search, and Live Search. Despite it only accounting for only 3.96% of the market share in Australia, it receives 11 billion searches across the globe each month. Many of the searches come from Bing-powered partners, therefore many users may not even realise they’re using Bing; for example, all searches via the smart speaker Alexa are generated through Bing.

Quick tip: Bing is great for brands looking to reach an older and more educated audience – with almost 40% of the Bing network being made up of 35-54 year olds.


DuckDuckGo, launched in 2008, is a search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by showing all users the same search results for a given search term

They don’t track users on the internet, but can still provide them with the search they’re looking for while keeping away from a potential breach of personal data.

This is a key USP to set them apart from Google, especially relevant in the current digital climate with privacy concerns continuing to grow. It’s important for marketers to be aware that advertising on DuckDuckGo is a little different to the rest – ads take the form of sponsored links that appear above search results.

Quick tip: We recommend using DuckDuckGo for brands in the technology sector – as it’s audience is made up of younger, digitally-savvy professionals with a keen interest in data privacy. 


Launched in 2009, Ecosia donates 80% of its revenue to non-profit organisations that focus on reforestation. It considers itself a social business, is CO2-negative and claims to support full financial transparency and protect the privacy of its users.They don’t create personal profiles of users based on search history, actually anonymising all searches within one week. Searches are encrypted and not stored permanently, and data is not sold to third-party advertisers.  

Ecosia activity is powered by 100% renewable energy; they plant trees that fight climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and they accelerate the energy transition away from fossil fuels by adding solar energy to the electricity grid.

Quick tip: 60% of Ecosia’s user base is younger adults, aged between 18 and 34, with a slight skew towards females. This is an excellent opportunity for brands to tap into progressive, youthful and environmentally friendly consumers. 


Yahoo! was incorporated in 1995. Yahoo has existed for even longer than Google, and while some consider it outdated, it’s still the third most popular search engine worldwide and remains the default search engine for the popular Mozilla Firefox browser.

One of the great things about Yahoo is that it’s so much more than just a search engine. Yahoo’s web portal offers email, news, online shopping, games and more, giving a well-rounded user experience in one place.

Quick tip: Yahoo’s integration with Flickr, Yahoo Answers, and Yahoo Finance mean that it offers better image results and massive amounts of information on various topics. This is a great way for marketers to employ a wide variety of creatives from a unified, single platform.

Although Google still maintains its dominance, this may not always be the case. According to Statista, Google was reported as having a 91.7% share in 2012 of the international search engine market – by 2019, this fell to 87.9%.

It’s vital that marketers recognise that a significant portion of their audience will also be using one or more of the alternative search engines. Solely focusing your Search Marketing efforts on Google runs the real risk of missing out on thousands of potential customers. 

Like all digital channels, diversification is a must in order to reach more of the people that matter.  

Want to learn more about how you can get the most out of your SEM strategy? Get in touch with our media experts today.



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