When building and implementing an organic SEO strategy, it’s understandable that most businesses will prioritise getting found through Google.
As of March 2023, in the UK, Google’s desktop search market share is a whopping 93.37%. That means, for many, getting seen online means getting seen on Google. And it can be difficult to consider optimising your business website for any other search engine.
But for sustainable businesses looking to connect with like-minded customers, it might be worthwhile also optimising your website for Ecosia – an eco-conscious search engine that’s popular with ethical searchers.
In this article, we’re going to share some of our own experiences with optimising for Ecosia search, and offer some tips to help you get started with your own website…
Table of contents
What is the Ecosia search engine?
Ecosia is probably the best-known sustainability-minded search engine. Established in 2009 to help combat the worsening climate crisis, Ecosia is a certified B-Corp and non-profit that prioritises good ethics, champions reforesting, advocates digital privacy and operates as a CO2-negative organisation.
It’s known for its tree-planting initiatives, and uses the revenue it generates from advertising to fund reforesting schemes and sustainability projects around the world. It believes planting trees is the solution to global climate issues and localised ecological destruction, and it supports organisations that are working to combat this.
- More than 20 million active monthly users
- More than 173 million trees planted in over 13,000 locations
- Roughly 1 tree planted for every 45 searches made
Why optimise your website for Ecosia?
Given its relatively small share of the search engine market, you might wonder if it’s worth investing the time and effort into optimising your website for Ecosia.
However, as a sustainable web design agency, we believe SEO should be about finding the right audience, not just a bigger one, and ethical, eco-conscious businesses can gain a lot from optimising for Ecosia.
Despite the much smaller market share (at 0.23%), it’s worth considering that:
- Climate-conscious people may choose to use Ecosia instead of Google
- Searchers who value their online privacy may prioritise using Ecosia
- With fewer businesses optimising for lesser-used search engines, there will be less competition on Ecosia and your site may rank higher in the results
How to optimise your website for Ecosia
Ecosia uses Microsoft Bing’s search engine infrastructure, so to help your website rank higher on Ecosia, you’ll actually need to optimise your website for Bing.
And it’s not just Ecosia. Other search engines using Bing’s infrastructure include Yahoo and the privacy-focussed DuckDuckGo, which, together with Bing itself, make up 6.2% of the UK market share, which equates to a lot of people.
When optimising your website for Ecosia, it’s important to know that Bing’s search algorithm has some differences to Google’s, and this can result in wildly different results when searching for a particular term.
Some of the key things to note when optimising your website for Ecosia:
- Bing isn’t quite as good at synonyms as Google, and prefers the use of specific key phrases. For example, searching for ‘eco-friendly household products Manchester’ on Bing returns eco-friendly household product companies that deliver to Manchester, and Google returns Manchester zero-waste shops that sell cleaning product refills
- Including your specific key phrase in your meta description will help improve your ranking
- Focus on gaining inbound links from respected sources
- Publishing content on social media and encouraging your followers to share it can help your website rank higher on Ecosia
- Optimise your site’s content for location-based searches
- Ecosia offers both Bing and Google maps, so bricks-and-mortar businesses may benefit from registering a pin on both platforms
Using Bing webmaster tools
If you’ve previously done work on your website’s organic SEO, you’ll probably already be familiar with Google Search Console. The happy news is that Bing Webmaster Tools is very similar, in terms of both layout and functionality, so it should be fairly easy to get started on optimising for Ecosia.
Bing Webmaster Tools allows you to:
- Manually submit page updates to the Bing index
- Register a sitemap to help search spiders find your pages
- See the search terms you currently show up for, as well as an estimated position (though this only relates to searches made on Bing, not Ecosia)
- View a list of sites that have backlinks to your website
- Block and remove pages from the Bing index
- Perform a site scan to review any issues that might be harming your ranking
IndexNow is a tool that operates as a WordPress plug-in to automatically push any page updates to Bing’s search index.
This means that, whenever you make a product update, publish a new blog post or make changes to your content in some other way, Bing automatically adds it to its index so search engines always have the latest version. Which means no more manual submissions for page indexing. Hooray!
Why does my website not show on Bing?
As we discovered when optimising the Root Web Design Studio website for Ecosia, actually getting your site to appear on the Bing index at all can be quite the challenge.
Initially we found that, apart from the home page, most pages were being discovered but not crawled, with Bing Webmaster Tools declaring:
‘The inspected URL is known to Bing but has some issues which are preventing indexation. We recommend you follow Bing Webmaster Guidelines to increase your chances of indexation.’
Not particularly helpful. And when we searched for this error message to try and find a solution, what we found instead was no shortage of other frustrated users who had been consigned to Bing jail.
After a bit of investigating and a lot of tweaking, we found that doing the following helped to get us on the Bing index:
- Submitting a sitemap to Bing Search Console
- Performing a site scan in Bing Search Console, and addressing any obvious warnings
- Making sure all images have alt-text
- Making sure all pages have a set meta description
- Using the IndexNow tool to automatically submit updates to Bing
- Gaining at least one inbound link from another website
- Using the Yoast SEO plugin’s crawl optimisation settings also co-incided with new pages being indexed
- And if all else fails, asking Bing support for help
Be aware that it can take as long as 2-3 weeks for an updated page to appear on Bing’s index (and get your website showing up on the Ecosia search results), so be prepared to be patient. That said, SEO is always a long game though, right?
More SEO tips
At Root, we know that the most eco-friendly website is one that doesn’t show up at all. We also know that’s not a realistic ask for businesses in a digital-first world, so the next best thing is to make sure your website is only showing up when it can be genuinely useful to the person searching for a particular phrase.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re connecting with the right audience, not just a bigger one…
- Niching. While uber-specific phrases will get fewer searches, the people who do use them are more likely to know exactly what they want. (Think the difference between ‘eco shop near me’ and ‘zero-waste shop in Stockport’.) Additionally, when you show up highly in the search results for more specific ‘longtail’ keywords, this can improve your overall domain authority and give more credence to your shorter ‘head’ keywords.
- Page titles and meta descriptions. Optimising your page titles and meta descriptions, and writing them clearly and descriptively, will help your relevant pages show up for specific search terms.
- Think like a searcher. Optimising your keywords and phrases isn’t necessarily about you or your business – you need to consider the words your audience might use when searching. For example, we design and develop low-carbon websites, but we’ve found that more people search for ‘eco-friendly websites’ and, even though we don’t agree with that phrasing, it’s what we optimise the Root website for.
- Improve page speeds. Search engines favour websites that load fast, and so do your customers – and the planet. Minimising the use of known things that slow websites down – such as video embeds, tracking scripts and massive images – will help you rank more highly on Ecosia, as well as improve the customer experience and align more closely with your ethics.
There’s no escaping the pervasive power of Google when it comes to getting seen online. But for climate-conscious and ethical businesses who want to do good things in the world, we believe it’s worthwhile optimising your website for Ecosia, too.
By investing some time and energy into showing up on Ecosia, your business can help fight climate and ecological destruction, while ensuring you’re being seen by the right audience, not just a bigger one. We hope this article has shown you how:
- While Ecosia has a smaller user base than Google, it still has a huge number (20 million+) of monthly users
- Ecosia is a popular choice among eco-conscious web users – exactly the type of people ethical and sustainable businesses want to reach
- Optimising your website for Ecosia is good for searchers, good for business and better for the planet
- Optimising for Ecosia will also help you show up higher on Bing, Yahoo and privacy-focussed DuckDuckGo
- While it takes time and patience to be picked on the Bing index, that patience can be repaid in more targeted (and more qualified) website visitors
- There are lots of simple things you can start doing today to help you show up on Ecosia
- Online SEO training – Root founder Paul Jardine’s self-paced course covers all the basics of getting your small business found online, with easy-to-action guidance and jargon-free delivery
- Can you do SEO for Ecosia? – Copywriter Estelle Hakner looks at how to optimise your website copy for Ecosia without hurting your Google ranking
- DuckDuckGo SEO: What you should know – Guidance on optimising your website for the privacy-focussed search engine that boasts an estimated 50 million users
- Get out of Bing jail – Struggling to get your site indexed by Bing and showing up on Ecosia? Bing explains why a site may not have been indexed, and links to relevant support material
- Domain authority checker – Check out your website’s domain authority and get top-level analysis, free from Moz
- How do I make my website more eco-friendly? – Root offers loads more tips and insights on how ethical businesses can reduce the carbon impact of their websites