Google and Australia are currently locked in an ongoing dispute, following the Australia’s proposal of a new bill.
If enforced, the bill would mean that Facebook and Google would have to pay licensing fees to media companies if journalistic content is shared on their platforms. Failure to comply would result in millions of dollars in fines.
In retaliation to this, Mel Silva, managing director for Google Australia has stated that the company would have no choice but to block access to Google’s search engine in Australia, should this bill come into fruition.
So, what does this mean for companies who have adopted a Google SEO strategy in Australia?
Australia’s top search engines
According to Stat Counter, Google holds the majority search engine market share in Australia (94.37%). The full breakdown is:
- Google – 94.37%
- Bing – 3.74%
- DuckDuckGo – 0.79%
- Yahoo – 0.73%
- Ecosia – 0.2%
- Norton Safe Search – 0.04%
As Google powers search functions on many websites, shutting down the search engine would cause disruptions to consumers and businesses alike.
So, if Google stops providing search in Australia, users would be greeted with a screen that states “Google is unable to offer the service in Australia“.
As it’s not yet clear what Google’s intentions would be, the likely scenarios are:
- A – Google would simply redirect users to the US search engine. This would result in the removal of localised search results.
- B – Google would block users in Australia via IP addresses. This means that other Google search engines would be accessible via a VPN.
Both options would result in the loss of localised search results, which would affect local businesses, as well as international businesses running an SEO campaign in Australia.
Bing SEO vs Google SEO
Google is currently the number 1 search engine in Australia. However, this could soon change if Google decides to withdraw its services. A withdrawal could see many users quickly turn to Bing.
So, it’s safe to assume that if your website is ranking highly on Google in Australia, you’ll automatically rank highly on Bing. Right? Wrong.
Bing has its own set of ranking factors that can affect how competitively you rank in their SERPs. Some key ranking factors for Bing include:
- Social signals
- User engagement
- Page authority (similar to Google)
- Quality content
- Technical SEO
- Big brands tend to rank higher on Bing
- Bing favours older domains with more official names
Although these ranking factors are similar to Google, it’s never safe to assume that high rankings on Google will equal high rankings on Bing.
Understanding user engagement
Bing places a large focus on user engagement, particularly bounce rate, to gain a better understanding of website performance.
For a Bing SEO campaign, positive user engagement stats are an extremely important ranking factor. These include:
- Bounce rate or “pogo-sticking” (30-50% is considered good)
- Average session duration
Bing and social media
Research shows that Bing places much more of an emphasis on social shares, likes and tweets, compared to Google.
So, top-ranking URLs typically have a higher amount of social engagement signals.
This means that SEO strategies should also be considered alongside a social media strategy when conducting a Bing SEO campaign.
Bing SEO & authority
Page authority is a metric used to determine how well a specific page will rank on the SERPs. This is scored out of 100.Compared to Google, Bing places much more emphasis on page authority.
Authority and backlinking
Page authority is made up of an aggregate of metrics, making it difficult to influence directly.
The most effective way to increase page authority is by improving a link profile at an individual page level. When a high-authority domain links to a specific page on your website, it signals a vote of confidence to the search engine, which can help to improve page-level rankings.
Backlink velocity is also a key ranking factor for Bing, as many top-ranking websites have a large backlink profile.
Bing SEO & Relevance
Relevant content helps search engines to gain a better understanding of your website, services and products. It also shows that you understand your potential customers and their needs.
Google and Bing both show strong correlations between content quality and relevance and rankings.
Content and relevance
If you want to rank competitively on either search engine, here are some questions to consider:
- Is the content informative?
- Does the content contain grammatical errors?
- Is the content relevant?
- Does the content contain unnecessary information?
- Are there any gaps within the content?
Bing typically showcases small businesses when it comes to localised searches, as results are filtered by proximity.
Bing SEO & technical considerations
On-page technical SEO factors and website structure play an equally important role for both Google and Bing.
Bings technical considerations include:
- Keyword placement in title and meta descriptions
- Content placed in first 100k web pages (only applicable to large websites)
- Canonicalization to avoid duplicate content (Bing crawlers struggle with canonical tags)
- Website loading speed
A full breakdown of Bing SEO considerations can be found here.
What does this mean for the future of SEO in Australia?
Google remains Australia’s most frequently used search engine, with almost 95% of the markets share of voice. At present, it’s unclear on what the future holds for this media giant.
Google remains firm in their decision to remove from Australia completely, should the bill be introduced. However, until this happens, not much can be done in terms of preparation.