Back in the 1990s, and even as late as 2005, many search engine optimization consultants and webmasters spent a great deal of time trying to optimize for each search engine. There was a good reason for this. Each search engine had its own way of determining how to rank websites. It was often the case that one search engine put greater emphasis on meta tags while another search engine put more emphasis on links and on-page content optimization techniques. The strategy made sense for the times.
In the last few years, however, we’ve seen a complete dominance of search taken over by one search engine, Google. All the other search engines are languishing, trying to keep from becoming irrelevant.
I’m not saying that one should focus on one search engine and forget about all the rest. That would be foolhardy. But those smaller search engines – even the larger ones like Yahoo! and Bing, which are still lagging behind Google in search share – have largely adopted some aspect of Google’s ranking algorithm. Of course, not completely since Google guards its ranking algorithms with the highest level of secrecy, as they should.
But as SEOs have tested their strategies and written about them publicly, the search engines have adapted. Today, most search engines are chasing Google. And many of them are trying to implement Google-like search policies.
Still, they’re not all the same. Google still emphasizes link analysis factors more than meta tags. And there is good evidence that Bing emphasizes to a certain degree the meta tags. Google is also big on keywords in URLs and on-page content. Yahoo! seems to approve of almost any link whereas Google is much more discriminating.
I think all of this means that you have to be cognizant of what each search engine thinks is important, but if you optimize your website for Google you’ll find that about 90% of your efforts will be approved by the other search engines as well. Add minor tweaks like the addition of keywords in your Keywords meta tag and you’ll effectively be optimized for all the search engines that are important.
So should you optimize for each search engine? Yes. And no. Go for Google first. Then once you made a good faith effort to make Google happy start tweaking your SEO to target the other search engines too.