Often times we are asked how we optimize for one search engine (Google) and expect to rank well for the other two engines (Yahoo! and MSN). This question is usually followed up with “do you guys create different doorway pages for each keyword, that is optimized for each algorithm?”.
Let me answer the last question first. No, we do not create any doorway pages for any search engine. Doorway pages in this context would be considered spam. Creating three identical pages, and adjusting the on page factors to best fit each search engine is not a “best practices” tactic in today’s SEO world. I’m sure that there are webmasters or junior level SEO’s who still do this, but it is not recommended.
Your website may very well need more unique relevant content in order to help get the rankings you desire, but these should be pages that are part of your logical link structure and very visible to not only the search engines but your website visitors as well. Doorways in the spam context are generally hidden after the user clicks off of the doorway page.
Back to the original question of which search engine do we optimize for, the answer is Google. Search engine optimization’s purpose is to help websites gain top search engine placement for relevant keywords in order for a site to generate targeted website traffic and hopefully revenue for its company. Google is clearly the leader of the search engine pack and there has been a steady pattern of Yahoo and MSN chasing them.
Google is also getting the most traffic so it makes sense to go after Google first and let the others fall right into place as they update their algorithms. Plus, search engines like MSN currently have less websites within their search engine, making it a tad easier for getting top organic search engine placement. Since their algorithms are not that much different (think Coke vs. Pepsi…it’s still Cola and they taste close but yet a little different), and since MSN has less websites for yours to compete with, there is a very good chance the optimization for your site if based on Google’s known likings will also produce results for you in MSN (and Yahoo etc).