Microsoft Yahoo Deal Already Reshaping SEO

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The search engine landscape has already changed since Microsoft released Bing: all SEOs expected the unexpected; we all knew that Bing was just the first step towards something bigger, louder, and in the end more significant. Microsoft didn’t disappoint – the latest deal with Yahoo has already stirred controversy in all SEO circles.

The pondering just started: is the deal a threat to Google?

“We’re more nervous about making sure we stay focused ourselves rather than what the competition does.” – Google’s Tim Armstrong said in 2008, in an interview about a possible Microsoft/ Yahoo merger. Will he say the same thing today, knowing that together Microsoft and Yahoo share 30% of the search market? Will he make the same statement when everyone knows that Google is losing money (proof the last AOL stake move)?

Is the Microsoft/Yahoo deal scaring Google?

These questions concern more the SEO community and the investors than they do the users, who generally believe that the “unexpected” deal between Google’s main competitors will not change their search habits. Bing did not bring ground-breaking technology to search – all it brought was a different way to categorize results, probably copied from hakia or Kayak, but this is beside the point.

As far as how does the Microsoft/Yahoo deal change SEO, there are at least two important aspects we cannot ignore:

  • Bing will be the exclusive search engine for all Yahoo sites for the whole duration of the agreement (which is 10 years).
  • Microsoft will also have exclusive access to Yahoo’s core search technologies and will also have the ability to integrate these technologies into its existing platforms if necessary.

Based on the information above, the following conclusions are a no brainer:

  • SEO for Bing is worth the effort. Bing’s results are different from what Google and Yahoo display now, somehow “richer” in displaying a variety of results for a given query. With Bing powering Yahoo search we can assume that this way of serving search results will probably be adopted by Yahoo too.
  • We cannot be sure if Yahoo’s local search is part of the deal, but if it is Bing will have a lot to gain. Since Bing is serving local listings in the search results it becomes vital for companies to be listed in Bing’s local listing center. This does not impact businesses outside the US just yet, but it is still an important SEO pointer for the future.
  • Based on personal experience, it is a mistake to ignore Bing Webmaster Tools – if you don’t have an account there you are probably missing a lot of Bing traffic. Unless you want to ping Bing each time you publish new content it is advisable to submit a sitemap to Bing via Bing Webmaster Tools.

    To ping Bing simply follow the formula:[your sitemap web address]

    Other important data you could gather from Bing Webmaster Tools: filter backlinks by top-level domain, subdomain or subfolder and filter outbound links by top-level domain, subdomain or subfolder. Bing also offers a tool that helps you see how your site performs in search results for searches using specific keywords. Comparing the data from Bing Webmaster Tools to Google you can also learn how the two search engines see your site. This will give you the tools to plan better SEO strategies for the two.

  • With Yahoo out of the search spectrum, Yahoo site explorer may go away too. This was an important tool to gather link information for SEOs. Many SEO tools that relied on Yahoo for link data will break too – so SEOs will face new challenges when it comes to link research.
  • Last but not least, MSN AdCenter will probably get more attention from advertisers in the US (where the impact of the deal is the strongest) as an alternative to Google AdWords. Microsoft ads already provide for better conversions than Google ads, but this is the first time Google actually faces serious competition in this field. 30 % of the market doesn’t sound like much, but it can soon become a threat if Microsoft proves that it can serve ads that have better quality and relevancy, and more importantly higher conversions.

This is what Google should fear. As far as SEO for Bing is concerned, in relation with PPC advertising, remember that any PPC campaign is pointless if a site is not built to sell: we are talking design, content, and usability, of course. As a final note, take into consideration the fact the Yahoo is still the most visited site in the world. A Bing search bar on such a site is in effect more popular than Google itself, or at least potentially. It appears as if MS is not as dumb as they pretend to be most of the time.

Mihaela Lica Butler
Mihaela Lica Butler is senior partner at Pamil Visions PR and editor at Everything PR. She is a widely cited authority on search engine optimization... Read Full Bio
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  • pd

    ““We’re more nervous about making sure we stay focused ourselves rather than what the competition does.” – Google’s Tim Armstrong said in 2008, in an interview about a possible Microsoft/ Yahoo merger. Will he say the same thing today, knowing that together Microsoft and Yahoo share 30% of the search market?””

    Probably not, since he no longer works at Google and is now CEO at AOL

  • The deal stipulates full integration wont occur until 2 years after the legal issues are worked out. For the forseeable future, nothing has or will change for SEO. All that has happened so far is Bartz and Ballmer shook hands. I think it is a bit premature to say that this changes SEO. I also think its a very risky gamble to start changing your strategy based on a deal that hasn’t been approved by shareholders or the DOJ, not to mention the fact that integrating Bing and Yahoo will take months of planning before anything occurs!
    .-= Nick Roshon´s last blog ..Is it Too Soon to Worry About Yahoo! & Microsoft Bing Search Partnership? (Yes) =-.

  • Good point, PD 🙂 My question was only hypothetical though. I knew about his new position.

  • Nick, you are right, two years is a long time. However, planning SEO for Bing now is a smart move – most of my tips concern Bing and Bing alone. When Bing is integrated with Yahoo these efforts will pay off.

    As a matter of fact, the transition to powering Yahoo search will probably last two years, but there are no reasons to believe that they will not start implementing some aspects immediately. MS is not stupid, waiting two years will cost too much.

  • Sean


    I would argue this one: “all it brought was a different way to categorize results”.

    No, it is not ground breaking, but all of a sudden, google’s advantage is gone! Peolple found Bing is serveral areas better than google. I also agree that’s not enough, but that’s enough to set a stage for competation. I want to say, the game has started.

  • @Sean, yes, you are right, but my point was that they were not the first. 🙂 I hate to see great ideas wasted in the hands of the all powerful!

  • MAN, this is such a game changer… It boggles my mind to have to now deal with Bing now… Was so NOT wanting to deal with it and was hoping Bing would just be a flash in the pan for Microsoft… my predictions are proving wrong… time will tell as to whether Google dominates, or if Bing/Yahoo starts to increase market share more… time to play Bing’s game if my clients are to continue to succeed.

  • tha’s a good news because right now, most of the SEO tools are for google.

  • terry

    Personally, I’m looking at who has more money to create things to happen and who has the longevity in the IT market-yes Google is the biggest SE, but we cannot lose site as to who’s operating system dominates the world. If I caught myself in the cross hairs of Microsoft….I’d be highly concerned-

  • I’m finding Bing to be much better than the old MSN for PPC. If MSN keeps up the good work, they may very well be able to challenge Google in the PPC market.

  • This is definitely a wise move from Microsoft. They seem to be making a bit of a comeback to internet marketing. I have yet to have any success with Bing though.