Microsoft Bing Takes Over Yahoo Search

Last week, Yahoo and Bing began the handover of Yahoo Search backend search technology to Microsoft’s search platform. This transition has been completed in the US and Canada, with Australia and other markets to follow suite in the coming months. The first thing Users will begin to notice a “powered by Bing” logo at the bottom of their Yahoo search results pages.

Although the original deal was intended for Microsoft to buy Yahoo! outright, last year it was decided that the arrangement would involve Yahoo giving up just its search market share.

Yahoo will use Microsoft’s search engine Bing on its own sites while still providing its exclusive global sales force for premium advertisers.

The deal lets Yahoo focus on being a content portal, while giving Microsoft a bigger piece of the search engine pie. If anything, that change in focus will have the most impact on users.

So What Does This Mean For SEO?

Many SEO consultants and search marketers will be monitoring the emerging searchscape closely to make sure they and their clients are not adversely affected.

SEO consultants will need to become aware that a shift towards Bing means that the organic search results in Yahoo may come up slightly differently and Bings webmaster tools would replace Yahoos site explorer for sitemap submission to get websites properly indexed.

U.S. Internet users conducted a total of 15.6 billion “explicit” searches in July, with Google handling 10.3 billion while Yahoo served to 2.7 billion and Microsoft 1.7 billion.

How Will It Affect Search Marketers

Microsoft announced that Yahoo advertisers can now begin transitioning their paid ad management to the Microsoft Ad Centre and sets the date for the paid search integration to be complete by the end of October 2010. If this occurs on schedule, it will come just in time for the holiday season, a crucial time for retail advertisers. If there is any chance that the integration will cause any problems for advertisers over the holiday season, it may be postponed until 2011. Yahoo currently has several tools for advertisers on its website to aid the transition, such as a feature comparison, transition checklist and a “compatibility report” generator.

For PPC Search marketers, consolidation of both Bing and Yahoo’s search market share could prove to be a good thing. Such a consolidation means that if you have paid search management accounts with both Yahoo and Bing, you will soon be managing them in one place as well as get an increased eyeballs for your ads. This is certainly true for those who do business in the US and Canada, but it’s not that exciting here in Australia.

Here’s why:

Assuming that the latest search engine market share in Australia stats from Hitwise continue to hold true when the Microhoo search takeover comes to Australia, the combined share of Yahoo and Bing would be 5.76%. This is compared with around 30% in the US and Canada. In Australia, Google’s market share stands at a commanding 92.53%. So while Bing’s combined search market share in the US and Canada looks very impressive for a search engine that was only launched less than a year ago, there is a lot of work to be done in this part of the world to put much of a dent in the Google search monolith’s Aussie market share.

So What Does Yahoo Do Again?

With Yahoo still intact as a company in its own right as Microsoft’s bid to buy it out ending with an agreement to outsource its search engine technology to Microsoft, where does this leave Yahoo as a brand and how it will remain useful to Internet users. Heads at Yahoo insist that they have never been a “search” company, indeed Yahoo as a brand resists being defined in any particular category. It appears that Yahoo has value as a content company and increasingly as a social media company and content/social media aggregator.

In any case, it isn’t entirely clear which direction Yahoo wants to go and may be suffering from an identity crisis. It will be interesting to see how Yahoo travels into the future.

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