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What is Ecosia? A Search Engine for the Environmentally Conscious


When we talk about search engines, one or two big players get most of the attention. However, there are plenty of Google alternatives that can help you find the content and products you’re looking for. Ecosia is one of them, and it comes with an environmentally-friendly twist.

If you see “Ecosia” as a referrer in your analytics and wonder, “what is Ecosia?”, this article is for you. We’ll talk about what makes this search engine different and why you should consider using it. Finally, we’ll go over how to optimize your content for Ecosia. Let’s get to it!

What Is Ecosia?

Ecosia bills itself as an environmentally-friendly search engine. It offsets its carbon footprint by using the profits from search ads to plant trees in over 30 countries worldwide. At the time of writing, the search engine has funded the planting of more than 140,000,000 trees:

Ecosia homepage

Like most (if not all) search engines, Ecosia gets its funding from ads. However, it re-invests 80 percent of its revenue into nonprofit organizations dedicated to planting trees around the world.

On top of its efforts to increase tree populations, Ecosia also highlights search results from companies that engage in environmentally-friendly practices. Armed with that information, you can choose to reward “green” businesses with your traffic and money.

Using Ecosia is the same as with any other search engine. Its search results are powered by Bing, with some algorithm tweaks unique to Ecosia. One big draw of using this “green” search engine is that you can view a tree counter while you navigate results:

Ecosia search results

This icon tells you how often you use Ecosia, including new searches and moving from one results page to another. According to the search engine, it takes about 45 searches to fund a new tree. Which really isn’t that many when you think about it. How many times do you search for something, not see the right results, refocus your search, and repeat it a few times until it’s just right? Probably more than a few.

By using Ecosia and watching that icon, you can keep an eye on how many trees you’re helping to plant around the world when you do that.

Who Should Use Ecosia?

Since Bing powers Ecosia search results, the real question is, “when does it make sense to use Bing?”. 2.88 percent of users around the world rely on Bing for their results. Ecosia, on the other hand, commands a 0.11 percent market share.

That’s not to say that Bing and Ecosia aren’t great search engines. Bing, in particular, gets a lot of attention due to its intuitive video search capabilities. In our experience, looking for videos on Bing offers a much better experience than with Google:

Bing video search results

One downside of using Ecosia is that it doesn’t emulate Bing’s SERP layout. Instead, it opts for a style that’s more similar to Google:

Ecosia video results

You’re still getting mostly the same video search results as with Bing. However, using Ecosia feels more like Google than its Microsoft counterpart.

As far as search results quality goes, Ecosia can give Google a run for its money. Arguably, Bing search has improved by leaps and bounds since its launch in 2009. However, it takes a lot of effort to pry users away from their favorite search engines. That’s why there are so few Google alternatives with sizable market shares.

For the Privacy-Minded

On the topic of privacy, Ecosia treats your data with a lot more respect than most other search engines. It doesn’t store search information permanently, sell data to advertisers, or use external tracking tools. Furthermore, it encrypts searches.

If you want to use a search engine that offsets your carbon footprint and doesn’t store search data, Ecosia should be your first choice. On that same note, if you already use Bing, but you want to help plant trees around the world, consider switching to Ecosia.

Your choice becomes simpler when comparing Ecosia with other search engines such as Yandex or DuckGoGo. Thanks to its partnership with Bing, Ecosia delivers much better results than Yandex (at least for Western audiences).

In terms of privacy, DuckGoGo has a clear advantage, as it does with the vast majority of search engines. However, DuckGoGo certainly doesn’t follow in Ecosia’s green footsteps.

Optimizing Your Content for Ecosia SEO

Although Ecosia search results are powered by Bing, the search engine also “enhances” its rankings with its own algorithms. If you run the same query on both search engines, you’ll see similar but not identical results.

One downside of using Ecosia as a webmaster is that the search engine doesn’t publish much information about optimization. Its algorithms are not public, and they don’t mention any additional ranking factors on top of the ones that Bing uses.

Ecosia highlights “green” results, but it doesn’t promote them in the rankings. Still, you might attract some additional attention and traffic if your business is considered environmentally friendly. You can achieve this by stocking sustainable products, using ecologically-friendly business practices, or complying with official ecological guidelines.

Overall, if your website follows Search Engine Optimization (SEO) fundamentals and you’re optimizing for Bing, your content should rank well in Ecosia. By optimizing for Bing, we mean keeping the following practices in mind:

  1. Using Bing Webmaster Tools
  2. Registering your business on Bing Places
  3. Keeping up with the Bing Webmaster Blog
  4. Growing your social media presence

Bing and Ecosia also both factor social media into their search results. If your website has a sizable following on online networks or your content gets a lot of shares, your site might rank better on Ecosia and Bing than on Google.

Overall, there’s a great deal of overlap between website ranking factors for different search engines. Following SEO best practices will ensure that you get great results across the board.

Conclusion

Ecosia might not have the most significant market share among search engines. However, we recommend ensuring that your content is optimized for both Bing and Ecosia. By doing so, you’ll be able to tap into audiences that might not find your content using more traditional options such as Google.

As a searcher, it’s worth taking note of Ecosia as a Google alternative because of the good the company is trying to bring to the environment. And if you’re already a Bing user, there’s even less of a barrier to swapping over.

When it comes to growing your website, it rarely makes sense to put all of your eggs in one basket. This principle also applies to search engines. Although Google is the dominant option, you leave a lot of traffic on the table if you’re not optimizing content for other platforms such as Ecosia.

Do you have any questions about optimizing your content for Ecosia? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

Featured image via Man As Thep / shutterstock.com



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