google needle

When was the last time your marketing team broadened its reach beyond Google? It’s hard to imagine because Google has disrupted everything from advertising, print publishing, broadcast and cable TV, motion pictures, mobile telephony and computer software and hardware makers. Brands are clearly addicted. Yet, beyond the clouds of Google, engaged customers are consuming content in different ways.

The Motley Fool’s recent post, Are Businesses Relying Too Much On Google?, shines light on something marketers already know: Google runs the world. After all, it’s not very often that you hear about a content distribution plan designed around Bing or AOL. It’s not considered normal to talk about content targeting unless you’re leading with Google, right? But is that right?

Think about it: The Google brand is more popular on Bing! A search right now for “Google” on produces 2,760,000,000 results. But the same search on gives you 5,000,000,000 results, while Yahoo comes in at 4,990,000,000. Yet, there is a belief that every single human being who comes in contact with an internet-based device is primarily searching via Google. Well – to be honest, most people are. But when you dig deeper, you discover something fascinating: they don’t really seem to care about your content.

According to Shareaholic, Google accounts for 17 times more traffic than Bing, Yahoo, and AOL combined, but here’s the thing: Google users are often less engaged. Google searchers are quick to abandon sites they deem unfit to help them solve current issues – on average, 61.26 percent bounce. Also, Google fans, on average, view the fewest number of pages per visit (2.34).

If you look long and hard enough, you’ll find countless stories featuring brands that developed content strategies based primarily on one platform. And every time that platform makes a slight change, it sends ripples across multiple layers of a brand’s marketing campaign.  Some of these ripples can look like waves when there’s too much dependence on that medium or technology. From Google Analytics to Google Docs, a whole lot of content is being monitored, produced and shared in the Google realm. The problem: everything else is an afterthought instead of an integrated strategy.

While most marketers prefer to aim at the largest audience and then drill down, a smaller pool of potential customers on the other search engines may provide brands with a more direct path to customer acquisition. Why? Because this group is paying more attention; spending more time reading your content; and interacting more with your brand. Put simply, they’re better prospects.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore Google (obviously), but it does mean you need to not limit your marketing efforts.

The truth is: marketers shouldn’t be tweaking their content for Google, Bing or any other search platform. Instead, brands should be customizing content based on consumer behavior across multiple platforms and technologies. For the more engaged users on Bing, for instance, your content strategy may involve less frequency and more educational communications. After all, Bing searches produce more fact-based results than Google. At the same time, a Google approach may involve creating more engaging web content to avoid those nasty bounce rates.

Google is powerful. But looking beyond Google might be the best way to reach deeper into your audience’s hearts and minds. So for those who depend entirely on Google to justify marketing objectives, it’s time to diversify.