Microsoft’s search engine product Bing was a year old on Sunday. Setting aside the question of whether we’ve got any more used to its rather silly name (no), has it become a proper contender in Search during that time?

Well, according to Thinq, Bing has managed to grow Microsoft’s search share from eight to almost 13 percent over the past year but has barely made a dent in Google’s dominant position. Microsoft’s gains have largely been at Yahoo’s expense.

Does this mean we can largely ignore Bing, and Yahoo for that matter, and optimize purely for Google? Absolutely not. 13% may not sound like much, but given the vast quantity of searches being conducted at any one moment, we’d be fools to let it go.

Don’t forget, too, that these figures relate purely to UK usage. OK, fine if you trade purely within these shores. If you don’t, be assured that Google’s dominance is by no means replicated across the world: in Japan, Yahoo has it. In China, Google has all but given up and Baidu is king. In the States, Bing is much more commonly used than it is here.

Many SEO firms will talk of Google as if it is the only search engine worth optimizing for. It’s easily done, especially when the word ‘Google’, like ‘Hoover’, has become a verb describing the very act of searching. But the savvy optimizer will know that the best benefits in all search engines will be found by putting high-quality, relevant content on your web pages, signposting it clearly, and attracting decent links from the sites that matter. That way, no matter which search engine is dominant at any one time, you’ll be properly represented.