Why I’m Torn on the Bing Yahoo! Deal

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I’ll keep this short since you’re likely approaching Microsoft/Yahoo overload (if you haven’t heard about it yet you’re almost certainly here by mistake, but just in case learn more here, here, here, or pretty much anywhere on the Web), but the thing that struck me is that my knee jerk reaction to the deal as both a paid and natural search marketer was split:

  • Happy About PPC
  • Slightly Annoyed About SEO

There’s really very little debate about the positive impact of the deal on the lives of paid search practitioners:

  • Less interaction with clumsy, frustrating interfaces (there is now at most one)
  • Less of a problem for tool providers and in-house dev teams in programming against three APIs (this is a big one for WordStream, as we offer API access to AdWords and compatibility with adCenter and Yahoo!)
  • Greater competition amongst paid search platforms will likely mean better ad targeting and more useful and sophisticated tools from both MicroHoo and Google

RKG has a nice summary that offers a similar sentiment. The tricky thing about the merger is the impact on SEO…

Why My Initial “SEO Reaction” Was Annoyance

It seems likely that Microsoft will gain some degree of search share. With additional resources and technology, a more than healthy budget, and an increased amount of data and market share, it seems unlikely to me that they won’t gobble up some degree of search share (as in: the combination of Yahoo!/Microsoft search percentage will be greater than it is currently).
The reason I find this troubling is that the Bing technology gaining ground may result in a significant enough jump in overall traffic that any thorough optimization process will require an SEO to take into account differences and quirks present in Bing’s algorithm. Things like:

  • How the engines value different types of links – If Bing loves low quality, old links and Google hates them, that’s an issue.
  • How the two engines filter content – What if overly aggressive anchor text is the way to rank in Bing, but a filter in Google?
  • The impact of on-page factors – If SEO oriented title tags are a quality signal in Bing but links are dominant in the Google algo, you have an even more pronounced version of the old SEO vs. catchy title headline tight-rope to walk.
  • Many, Many More – This is the point: search algorithms are COMPLEX, and that complexity increases by a multiple when you try to appease more than one algorithm.

For my money: PPC just got simpler, and SEO just got more complex. What do you think? Have you been balancing optimizing for the different types of relevance all along? Am I missing something? Is the paid search community (in being gleeful)? Comments welcome!

Tom Demers is the Director of Marketing at WordStream, a leading provider of keyword discovery and grouping software for PPC and SEO. To get in touch with Tom you can follow him on Twitter or read the WordStream Blog, where he is a frequent contributer.

Tom Demers

Tom Demers

Managing Partner at Cornerstone Content
Tom is the co-founder and managing partner of Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content. He was also the former Director of Marketing for WordStream, Inc. Prior... Read Full Bio
Tom Demers
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