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 to working at WordStream, he was an in-house SEO specialist and SEO Manager, worked as an SEO consultant for a search engine marketing agency, and had done independent organic and paid search engine marketing consulting for numerous clients for several years.
Tom Demers
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  • http://www.forwardslashmedia.co.uk/ Gidseo

    I think it’s far from a done deal!

    Michael Martinez makes a few good points about anti trust:

    ‘By eliminating one of three popular search algorithms, consumers who dislike both Microsoft and Google search will have to choose something else. Most of them will choose either Microsoft/Yahoo! or Google. This is where the Clayton Act, an antitrust law, comes into play. By eliminating competition and reducing the number of reasonable options available to consumers, the Microsoft-Yahoo! alliance may be violating the law.’


    Personally, I think it’s a great shame we might lose a good search engine – that’s a true competitor to Goog in terms of the search results it delivers, Yahoo – to an inferior search engine, Bing.

  • http://www.wordstream.com Tom Demers

    Hi Gidseo,

    Yeah those are both good points: even if this does “get done” it’s likely quite a ways off given the size and implications surrounding the deal. And I agree I think by and large Yahoo’s results are still far more relevant than Bing’s.

    .-= Tom Demers´s last blog ..Google PageRank Update: July, 29, 2009 =-.

  • http://domusinc.blogspot.com/ Jack

    There was an article yesterday on how the deal will affect PPC and SEO at http://domusinc.blogspot.com/2009/07/microsoft-yahoo-deal-work-for-us-to-do.html
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..Microsoft – Yahoo Deal – The Real Value =-.

  • http://www.wordstream.com Tom Demers

    Thanks Jack, I’ll check that out!
    .-= Tom Demers´s last blog ..Google PageRank Update: July, 29, 2009 =-.

  • http://www.tag44.com/software.asp Tag44

    Its nice to hear more about both search engine deal as i am very well aware of it but come to know more now.

  • http://www.wordstream.com Tom Demers

    Glad you enjoyed the post, thanks!
    .-= Tom Demers´s last blog ..Google PageRank Update: July, 29, 2009 =-.

  • http://www.offmadisonave.com William Smith

    I am surprised you are happy about the PPC aspect. Sure, it is one less engine to deal with, but adCenter was by far the more inferior bid system to work with.

    From an SEO perspective, I am not at all a fan of how Bing presents SERPS so from that aspect, if they adopt more of Yahoo’s technology there, the better.

    Overall though, i just don’t feel right calling Yahoo a search engine anymore. If they are going to use Microsoft’s results, they are little more than a glorified portal.

    Write up of my take on the Yahoo/Bing deal here.


  • http://www.wordstream.com Tom Demers

    Hi William,

    Good points, and nice article. I tweeted a link to it from the WordStream account: http://twitter.com/WordStream/status/2934601424.

    For me there are things surrounding the two engines from a PPC perspective that I do and don’t like; I have found Bing/MSN traffic to be cheaper and higher converting by and large (may not be the platform, of course) and personally I’m not a fan of Yahoo’s matching algorithm (another good RKG post on this here: http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog/2009/05/04/yahoo-match-type-games/) but mainly I’m happy that there are fewer interfaces to wrestle with. Depending on spend and other factors the amount of time you need to invest to run and monitor a campaign can be the difference between whether you sacrifice some extra traffic. More traffic and fewer places to stop off is good news, for my money.
    .-= Tom Demers´s last blog ..Torn on Bing/Yahoo Deal =-.

  • http://www.ejmdesigns.com Eric Marschall

    You make a great point in the PPC/SEO argument. I guess that professionals in our field will have to measure the amount of potential lean by things like market share that most recently showed Micro[+]Hoo (love that!) at less than 50% Google’s share. I blurbed about some other reasons Bing is probably not going to make it just yesterday (here). Have a great day!

  • http://texasseo.com/ Bennie Stark

    Your post about the “deal” is a good source of information.

    This is one good challenge for Google and I think that Google camp will have time to come up with something that will face this deal.

    I am sure to come back for more information. Thanks for sharing ths with us.

  • http://www.wordstream.com Tom Demers

    @Eric: Glad you enjoyed the post! Your take was interesting as well, tweeted it here: http://twitter.com/WordStream/status/2951112269 (unfortunately can’t take credit for MicroHoo, incidentally…not sure who coined it but I first saw it come from Barry Schwartz, I believe).

    @Bennie: Thanks for the kind words, glad you like it!

    .-= Tom Demers´s last blog ..It’s Friday: Honesty, Transparency and Lessons From Direct Mail =-.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Google is still more spam-friendly than the other two search engines, but that is probably only because the spammers tend to focus on Google (whose algorithm while different from the others is still easy to manipulate).

    Advertisers should be very concerned about the combined network as it will pit more advertisers against each other and drive up costs of acquisition.

    Frankly, if Microsoft takes over the tools or offers its own, that would be cool enough but as Vanessa Fox pointed out on SearchEngineLand Microsoft has not been very SEO-friendly in the area of research and development tools.
    .-= Michael Martinez´s last blog ..Microsoft and Yahoo! antitrust concerns =-.

  • http://www.wordstream.com Tom Demers

    Hi Michael,

    Yeah good point: the destiny of YSE, Yahoo! Directory, etc. will be a key thing to watch.

    I’m a big fan of your writing, incidentally: thanks for dropping a comment.

    .-= Tom Demers´s last blog ..It’s Friday: Honesty, Transparency and Lessons From Direct Mail =-.