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15 of the Best Free Website Builders to Check Out in 2023

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15 of the Best Free Website Builders to Check Out in 2023

In today’s digital world, having a business website isn’t an option. It’s a must.

An online presence is the digital equivalent of a calling card or listing on a phone book’s yellow pages. It increases brand awareness and allows you to display products and services online.

Unfortunately, not all businesses see the benefit of having a website. A survey commissioned by Top Design Firms found that 27% of small businesses don’t have one — and the top reasons holding them back from getting one are cost and lack of technical know-how.

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But here’s the good news: there are plenty of high-quality options for free website builders, many of which require little to no coding knowledge. 

If you don’t know where to look, don’t worry. We’ve compiled 14 of the best free website builders. They offer robust functionality like SEO benefits, embedded analytics systems, mobile optimization, and professional-looking templates. 

These builders are the next best thing if you’re on a tight budget. Better yet? Most of the free website builders we’ll show you have paid options if you need additional features as your business grows.

1. HubSpot Drag-and-Drop Website Builder

HubSpot’s free website builder homepage.Designing a beautifully branded website doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re taking the DIY-route to create your own website and don’t have coding experience, consider trying HubSpot’s drag-and-drop website builder.

It comes with everything you need to build a website, including content management system (CMS) tools, themes and templates, security features, and a built-in content delivery network (CDN) to ensure pages load quickly.

It also connects easily with HubSpot CRM. That lets you integrate contact forms, live chat requests, and more, making it ideal for businesses already using HubSpot’s CRM tool.

Features:

Advantages:  

  • Personalization (thanks to HubSpot CRM)
  • Security
  • Responsive themes and templates

Disadvantages:

  • Multi-language blog functionality is still being implemented
  • No built-in e-commerce functionality
  • You’ll need to learn HuBL (HubSpot’s templating language) to build custom modules and coded templates.

Pricing: Limited free plan available. The premium CMS plans with additional features start at $23/month when billed annually.

Brands using HubSpot:

2. Wix

Wix’s free website builder homepage.

With over 200 million users, Wix is one of the most popular free website builders. The easy-to-use, fully-hosted platform offers an easy drag-and-drop editor, an extensive collection of apps, and professional-looking templates. Wix can even propose a design for your site using its Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) software, Editor X.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • Large collection of apps and templates
  • Analytics and reporting

Advantages:

  • Easy to use
  • Large collection of apps and templates
  • Optimized for mobile

Disadvantages:

  • The free version displays ads.
  • The premium plans are pricey when compared to others on this list.
  • Unable to switch templates when the site goes live. The only way to change templates is by creating a new site and transferring your premium plan to it. 

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $16/month when billed annually.

Brands using Wix:

3. WordPress.com

WordPress’s free website builder homepage.

WordPress is the world’s most popular free website builder, with a 43% market share in the content management space. When building websites with WordPress, you have two options: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. 

WordPress.org lets you download WordPress’s open-source software so you can build and customize a website to fit your needs. However, there are a few caveats. Not only will you need a domain name and hosting before you get the website going (which comes at a cost), but you’ll also need to learn how to maintain and keep the website secure on your own.

In contrast, WordPress.com is much more beginner-friendly. It’s a fully-hosted free website building service offered by Automattic that uses the WordPress framework to provide a smooth website creation experience.

The only downside is that the free version is far less customizable than WordPress.org. For instance, you can’t customize plugins, and domain names are limited to [yourname].wordpress.com.

Still, WordPress.com’s free version empowers you to create visually stunning websites, blogs, and landing pages using the Classic Editor or the powerful new Gutenberg block-based editor. Below is an example of one of its pre-designed block-based templates:

Besides that, you can add assets like contact forms, videos, and embedded content to WordPress pages using plugins, an add-on feature compatible with WordPress but usually managed by another company. 

For example, HubSpot offers a WordPress marketing plugin that lets you capture contacts through WordPress and track them in HubSpot’s free CRM.

Features:

  • Large collection of themes and plugins
  • Mobile-friendly and optimized for SEO
  • Managed website hosting and security

Advantages:

  • Customizable
  • Flexible
  • Mobile and desktop apps available

Disadvantages:

  • The free version displays ads.
  • More limitations compared to WordPress.org
  • Although intuitive, it’s more difficult to learn than other drag-and-drop builders.

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $16/month when billed annually.

Brands using WordPress.com:

4. Elementor Website Builder

Elementor’s free website builder homepage.

While WordPress makes site building beginner-friendly, WordPress page builders make refining your website and achieving your dream design easier.

Trusted by over 5,000,000 users, Elementor is a no-code drag-and-drop page builder that’s a great option for getting a customized WordPress site off the ground quickly. Choose from hundreds of mobile-optimized page templates without worrying about the underlying code.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop builder
  • Live editing
  • Large library of mobile-responsive templates
  • Multiple partners building templates and add-ons for Elementor (e.g., Astra)

Advantages: 

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Live editing
  • Third-party integrations

Disadvantages:

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $49/year (without hosting).

Brands using Elementor:

5. Webnode

Webnode’s free website builder homepage.

With over 40 million users, Webnode is one of the more popular website builder tools for a good reason. It’s affordable, easy to use, and supports multilingual websites — up to 20 different languages.

Webnode is perfect for personal, professional, and small business websites, as it supports e-commerce stores.

Features:

  • Pre-designed templates
  • Ecommerce support
  • Mobile-ready

Advantages: 

  • Multilingual support
  • Mobile-responsive pages
  • Backup and restore features

Disadvantages:

  • Webnode doesn’t come with a built-in app store, making it more complicated to add extra functionality to the website
  • Limited customization options
  • Limited blog and e-commerce functionality

Pricing:Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $3.90/month when billed annually.

Brands using Webnode:

6. Jimdo

Jimdo’s free website builder homepage.Founded in 2007, Jimdo is a German-based company that provides AI-powered website builder tools for independent small businesses. The builder, Dolphin, asks users questions and suggests designs based on their answers. If you’re curious about what these AI-powered designs look like, Jimdo showcases a few examples on its page.

With 500 MB of space, you’ll likely have more than enough space to build your site, and it even provides HTTPS/SSL encryption, meaning your visitor’s information will be kept safe. Plus, you can integrate your site seamlessly with social media accounts. 

Jimdo is also an excellent option for international companies because it lets you create mobile-optimized websites in over nine languages. 

Features:

  • AI-powered website builder
  • SSL encryption
  • GDPR-compliant
  • Mobile app available

Advantages:

  • Easy to use
  • Mobile-responsive
  • Fast load speeds

Disadvantages:

  • Limited range of available features
  • Few design options

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $9/month when billed annually.

Brands using Jimdo:

7. Mozello

Mozello’s free website builder homepage.

Mozello has all the basic features you need to build a website: a drag-and-drop editor, template library, and even supports ecommerce functionality. One of the biggest selling points for Mozello is that the builder allows you to create a multilingual site for free.

You can check samples of websites built on Mozello on its portfolio page.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop website builder
  • Template library

Advantages: 

  • Easy to use
  • Support for multilingual websites
  • Ecommerce functionality

Disadvantages:

  • The drag-and-drop builder isn’t as intuitive as some others on this list.
  • Limited design customization
  • The free version displays ads

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $8/month when billed annually.

Brands using Mozello:

8. Yola

Yola’s free website builder homepage.

Founded in 2007, Yola is a free website builder built to eliminate the hassle of creating a website. 

It comes with a drag-and-drop builder, hundreds of customizable and mobile-optimized templates, and pre-designed blocks that allow you to create all kinds of websites — even online shops. 

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop website builder
  • Free customizable templates
  • Support for multilingual websites

Advantages: 

  • Ecommerce features available
  • Social selling features
  • Mobile-optimized

Disadvantages:

  • No blogging feature
  • The free version displays ads
  • Navigation and design limitations

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $4/month when billed annually.

Brands using Yola:

9. Weebly

Weebly’s free website builder homepage.

Weebly is an open-source software-as-a-service (SaaS) that offers web hosting, domain registration, web design, and e-commerce functions, making it suitable for businesses and startups. For a free website builder, Weebly’s particularly flexible — it’s compatible with every device and platform and easy to use.

Like Wix, Weebly has drag-and-drop functionality, an integrated CMS solution, and hand-coded HTML files. The in-house editor comes with SEO tools and Google Analytics. 

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • Integrated CMS solution
  • Free SSL certificate
  • SEO tools
  • Analytics and reporting

Advantages: 

  • Helpful SEO resource tools
  • Good selection of paid and free apps in the app center
  • The free plan has e-commerce functionality

Disadvantages:

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $6/month when billed annually.

Brands using Weebly:

10. Webflow

Webflow’s free website builder homepage.

While most of the other builders in this list are for people without a ton of coding knowledge, Webflow specifically targets advanced users, designers, and agencies that require a solution that gives them more design freedom than traditional website builder tools.

Although it’s a complex tool, Webflow tries to make it as easy as possible to get your business online. Webflow has a robust set of resources to help you — blog posts, forums, FAQ sections, and a library of websites built on Webflow that you can check for reference.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop website builder
  • Widgets to add features like maps and media
  • Third-party integrations

Advantages:

  • Offers complete control over your site’s design
  • Drag-and-drop what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) builder
  • Responsive interface

Disadvantages:

  • Purely a website builder. After building a website on Webflow, you need to transfer it to a content management system.
  • Requires some knowledge of HTML and CSS to access full features
  • It has a complex free and paid plan structure. You need to sign up for both a Site and Workspace plan.

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $12/month when billed annually.

Brands using Webflow:

11. Ucraft

Ucraft’s free website builder homepage.

Ucraft is one of the more advanced and generous website builders on the list. Like the others, it’s got a drag-and-drop editor, a good selection of templates, and supports e-commerce functionality. 

However, Ucraft stands out because it lets you connect an existing custom domain name with its free plan. It also comes with an SSL certificate and unlimited storage. Ucraft’s portfolio page shows sample websites built by its clients.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • Free hosting
  • Ecommerce functionality

Advantages: 

  • Allows you to connect an existing domain name for free
  • Decent selection of free templates
  • Includes SSL and unlimited storage on free plans

Disadvantages:

  • Sporadic loading issues and bugs. 
  • It has a steeper learning curve than most website builders on this list. 

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $10/month when billed annually.

Brands using Ucraft:

12. SITE123

SITE123’s free website builder homepage.

True to its name, SITE123 lets you build a website in as easy as one, two, and three steps. After setting it up with a one-click installation wizard, you can customize your SITE123 website with a free library of images, graphics, and templates.

Moreover, SITE123 offers web hosting, domain registration, and 250 MB of storage space, so you won’t feel pressured to switch to a paid plan.

Features:

  • Free hosting and domain
  • Mobile-responsive design
  • Free image and icons library

Advantages: 

  • Easy to use
  • Multilingual support
  • 24/7 tech support

Disadvantages:

  • No drag-and-drop function
  • Limited storage on the free plan
  • Lacks advanced customization features

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $5.80/month when billed annually.

Brands using SITE123:

13. Strikingly

Strikingly’s website builder tool homepage.

Launched in 2012, Strikingly is one of the newer website builder tools on the list. It helps users build websites with no programming skills required and sets itself apart from competitors by specializing in single-page websites such as portfolios, event pages, or landing pages.

The free plan includes unlimited free sites, a modest 5 GB monthly bandwidth, 500MB storage, and a branded domain.

Features:

  • Library of mobile-optimized templates
  • Ecommerce tools
  • Analytics

Advantages: 

  • An affordable option for those who want to create multiple sites
  • Best for creating single-page websites
  • Responsive support team

Disadvantages:

  • No drag-and-drop function
  • Limited SEO functionality

Pricing: Limited free plan available. Premium plans start at $8/month when billed annually. 

Brands using Strikingly:

14. GoDaddy

GoDaddy’s free website builder homepage.

While GoDaddy is a brand synonymous with affordable web hosting and domains, it’s expanded its offerings to include an all-in-one website builder tool for beginners and small business owners that have purchased hosting and domains. 

The website builder is basic, but it has everything you need to build a functional website, including a drag-and-drop editor, simple and clean templates, an SSL certificate, and social media tools.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop website builder
  • Marketing and analytics dashboard
  • 24/7 customer support

Advantages: 

  • All-in-one solution
  • Easy to use
  • Mobile-optimized
  • Fast page load speeds

Disadvantages: 

  • Limited SEO features
  • Limited app store features
  • Having your own web hosting and domain carries an initial cost

Pricing: Limited free plan — upgrade features at your own pace. Premium plans start at $9.99/month when billed annually.

Brands using GoDaddy:

15. Appy Pie Website

appy pie website builder

Appy Pie’s website builder has a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create well-designed, highly functional, and professional websites without any coding skills or programming knowledge. With Appy Pie’s Website Builder, you can create many websites for any purpose, including social media, salons, or real estate. 

All the websites created using Appy Pie website builder are lightweight, fast, and secure to ensure a better user experience and complete customer satisfaction. And since they consume low data, all Appy Pie websites can deliver content without any internet connectivity. 

Appy Pie has a ton of ready-to-use templates, design themes, and a visual library to make it easy for users to develop websites at competitive prices. In addition, the Appy Pie Website Builder also provides a rich library of frequently asked questions and video tutorials so that you can easily tackle most of the issues without them having to call customer support.

Features:

  • No code website development tool
  • Thousands of pre-built templates and designs
  • Cross-platform accessibility

Advantages: 

  • Scalability
  • Reusability
  • Integrability

Disadvantages: 

  • No advanced settings for pro users
  • Dependence on external services
  • Closed development code

Pricing: Limited free plan. Premium plans start at $18/month

Brands using Appy Pie Website:

Website Builder Features You Need

Choosing a website builder tool is easier when you know what you’re looking for. Here are 14 features to look out for:

1. Themes and Templates

Having an assortment of fully customizable website themes and templates on the website builder’s theme marketplaces makes it easier for users to change their site’s look.

In that sense, website builders should have theme options that cater to specific niches so users don’t waste time creating new templates from scratch. For example, the website builders on our list have options for blogs, portfolio websites, e-commerce websites, and more. 

Templates should be pre-structured and pre-populated with images, text, and other elements commonly found on pages like the Homepage, About page, or Contact page. All you need to do is pick one and replace the sample content with your own.

Themes and templates should be easy to customize — with multiple options for backgrounds, layouts, fonts, and colors.

2. Media (Video, Photo, Audio, Graphics)

Solely having text on your website can be monotonous, so including different forms of media helps break up text and can help information stick because not everyone learns the same way. A website with no visual content is like walking into a vacant restaurant. Fill out your website with highly engaging multimedia content and graphics to support vital information, engage users and drive traffic. 

You can easily bring your website to life using visual aids and mediums like stock photos, vector images, background images, stock video footage, sound effects, and video editing templates. There are tons of websites that provide media resources that are free to use for content. Freepik is a well-known website that provides illustrations and images. Many sites also incorporate icons into their sites like within the call-to-actions and resources sections. Flaticon is a great source of icons. Using these resources will transform your website into something memorable and visually appealing while also providing a user-friendly experience.

Some website builders offer more robust media capabilities, with multiple gallery layouts, customization options, and editing features.

3. WYSIWYG Editor

Besides an assortment of themes and templates, the best website builder tools make it easy for users to customize their websites with drag-and-drop tools and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editors.

There’s no need to learn how to code when you can update your site in a few clicks. Simply drag-and-drop elements to the page and see the changes implemented to your website immediately.

4. Malware Scanning

Security is a top consideration when choosing a website builder.

Security features vary depending on the website builder tool you select, but consider it a keeper if it offers malware scanning. Automated malware scanning allows you to address threats before it progresses into something catastrophic proactively.

5. Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A web application firewall (WAF) is another must-have security feature.

It often sits between your web server and the internet to protect your website from common attacks like SQL injections and cross-site scripting (XSS) by filtering, monitoring, and blocking malicious traffic from entering the network. 

WAFs can come in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS), and you can customize them to meet your website’s unique needs. 

6. Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Besides site security, you should also consider optimizing for page speed. After all, it affects everything from customer experience to conversions and revenue.

According to Portent, a site that loads in one second has a conversion rate 5x higher than a site that loads in 10 seconds.

There are many ways to improve page speed, and a content delivery network (CDN) is one way to do it. CDNs store heavy and static content on distributed servers located worldwide and load the cached content from a location nearest to the user to speed up its delivery.

7. Web Hosting

What good are website builders when they can’t get your website online?

Some solutions only offer website builder tools to build your site — you have to pay separately for web hosting services to get your site online.

The best website builders make it convenient to start websites by offering web hosting. Free website builders offer limited bandwidth and storage — just for personal use. You can upgrade to shared, dedicated, or managed hosting for an additional fee.

8. Storage

Web hosting works by providing two services: bandwidth and disk space (or storage).

Most free website builders offer ample (limited) storage for a beginner site but require you to purchase additional storage should you need it.

9. Blogs

People often confuse websites and blogs with each other — they’re similar but not the same. 

A blog is a type of website that contains information about different topics. They’re often updated with new articles or posts, while websites only receive updates when needed. In a nutshell, all blogs are websites, but not all websites are or have blogs.

Organizations build websites for different reasons: to sell, showcase a portfolio, or inform — and for those reasons, a blog can be helpful.

Blogs can help your website by:

  • Increasing visibility through SEO
  • Generating new leads
  • Building trust and loyalty
  • Creating brand awareness

Most free website builders come with basic blogging tools and post creation and comment management features.

10. SEO Capabilities

According to BrightEdge, 53% of traffic comes from organic search.

If you want to bring in more traffic and views, your website needs to be search engine-optimized.

Most website builders help with technical SEO by offering free SSL certificates and supporting schema markup and XML sitemaps. They also support on-page SEO by allowing you to enter and modify URLs, meta tags, and image alt attributes. 

11. Customer Support

While using website builder tools, you’ll likely run into a problem you can’t troubleshoot. That is where customer support comes in.

Customer support assists you with anything you need help with — technical, sales, billing, payments, or experiences. Depending on the website builder, assistance can come in any (or a mix) of the following channels:

The best website builders keep a mix of channels and answer inquiries promptly.

12. E-commerce Capabilities

Are you planning on selling physical or digital products in the future? Consider choosing a website builder tool with e-commerce capabilities.

There are dedicated e-commerce website builders, but these are often paid solutions with robust functionality such as apps for payment and shipping. 

Free website builders often integrate with a third-party e-commerce application or support a simple built-in store.

13. Third-party Integrations

There’s nothing worse than realizing your existing tech stack doesn’t work with the website builder you chose. Thus, it’s crucial to consider whether a website builder allows third-party integrations.

Your website builder should integrate with external tools, such as email marketing, e-commerce, and social software.

14. Analytics and Reporting

Your website builder should also have an analytics and reporting function to measure important metrics like the site’s popular pages, bounce rate, average duration per visit, and more.

Alternatively, you can track your website metrics in an analytics and reporting tool. When you bring your web analytics together with other key funnel metrics like trials or activation rate onto a dashboard, you give everyone on your team the ability to explore your data and uncover insights.

Picking Your Website Builder

There you have it! Since most of these website builders are free, try out a couple if you’re unsure of the best fit. In particular, take note of what you really want to get out of your site to ensure your needs will be met by one of these builders.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2018 but was updated in October 2019 for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

12 billion, 3 billion, 1 billion. That’s the number of searches made in some of the top alternative search engines monthly.

While Google still holds more than 80% of the market share, ignoring search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo can make you lose out on relevant traffic. So don’t limit yourself to Google’s algorithm as you plan the next year’s SEO strategy.

In order to grow in the digital economy, we have to diversify our efforts. What better way to do that than by making sure that you rank on all the top search engines relevant for your audience?

Generally, there’s two reasons why your audience would choose an alternative search engine over Google: geopolitical reasons and/or privacy concerns.

As such, I’ve categorized the search engines below by global market share and by data privacy.

Top alternative search engines by global market share

When analyzing the global desktop market share of search engines throughout the last decade, there are a few small but mighty search engines that stand out. These are:

1) Bing

2) Yahoo

3) Yandex

4) DuckDuckGo

5) Baidu

These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.

Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.

Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.

Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Bing and Yahoo

Screenshot of bing.com, November 2022

Since 2018, Yahoo is exclusively powered by Bing Search. So as long as you rank in Bing, you’ll rank in Yahoo.

Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.

Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.

Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.

If we look at the United States alone, Microsoft sites own over 18% of the market share.

This is much due to their partnership with Amazon, where all voice-activated searches on Amazon Echo and Alexa are made with Bing Search.

Microsoft also pushes Bing further by offering easy rewards for searches and more advanced image search capabilities than Google.

Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.

To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:

Infographic by AS Marketing, December 2022


1. List your business on Bing Places

Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.

2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools

While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.

3. Match keywords in your content

Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.

4. Keep your social media profiles up to date

Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.

5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content

Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.

Yandex

Screenshot of yandex.com, November 2022

Second to Bing is Yandex, having a total of 1.5% of the market share in global desktop search.

While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.

Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.

While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:

1. Focus on tags over internal site structure

According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.

2. Consider search intent to rank

Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.

3. Eliminate toxic links

Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.

Baidu

Screenshot of baidu.com, November 2022

With over 3 billion searches daily, Baidu is the Google of China. If you want to do business in China, it’s the place to be.

While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.

Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.

1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately

As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.

2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page

Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.

3. Obtain a verification level and get certified

By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.

Top alternative search engines by data privacy

While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.

On a macro scale, the European Union continues to protect data privacy with strict GDPR regulations and the California Consumer Privacy Act indicates similar trends for Americans.

From a micro perspective, documentaries such as The Great Hack shine a light on how global companies monetize on personal data. As a result, privacy-safe search engines continue to rise.

If you’re working for an innovative SaaS startup, there’s a high chance your ideal customer persona is using one of these search engines.

Let’s go through how you rank on DuckDuckGo and two alternative equivalents.

DuckDuckGo

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

DuckDuckGo aims to make your search experience as simple and true to its cause as possible, i.e. no tracking for personalized search results and filter bubbles. Instead it uses semantic search to determine search intent for your queries from over 400 sources.

Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.

Here’s how to optimize for it:

1. Sharpen Your User Experience

UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.

2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks

As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.

3. Rethink Local SEO

Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.

Startpage

Screenshot of startpage.com, November 2022

Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.

And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.

So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.

SwissCows

Screenshot of swisscows.com, November 2022

There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.

This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.

SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.

What do they all have in common?

In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.

But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.

Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.

And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.

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About the author

Cynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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