Yahoo switching to Bing's technology in the US and Canada is probably the leading search news story of the whole month.
Yes, Yahoo has fully switched to serving Bing results to the U.S. and Canadian searchers. While the average user may not care too much as to who's providing the results (as long as they're good of course), this is huge news for search marketers.
We'll look at how this change affects the search landscape and how you can leverage this for your site a bit later, but first things first.
Today we're disabling Yahoo! API key in Rank Tracker (which was on by default to let you query Yahoo safely and shield you from ranking dances caused by Yahoo-Bing tests). As soon as you get the new version (restart the tool to auto-update as usual) and run a check you'll see your Yahoo! rankings change dramatically and become exactly as on Bing (or with some slight alterations).
Whether your positions in Yahoo! rise or fall it's all because of the switch to Bing technology (this is something you might want to explain to your clients).
If you haven't been watching your Yahoo rankings and want to learn how this change affected your site, take a peek into the trick that we share at the end of this post. It shows you how to check your old Yahoo rankings. And now let's see how you can leverage Yahoo's switch to Bing for your business.
Turn the Yahoo-Bing Merger to Your Advantage
Combined Bing and Yahoo account for about 5.2 billion monthly searches. This is a pretty large traffic pond to tap into (not as large as the 'Google Sea', but still). So let's see how you can leverage the 'Binghoo' search traffic.
Since Bing is already serving organic results on Yahoo U.S. and Canada and will be powering all of Yahoo search soon, you only need to concern yourself with optimizing for Bing. Grab top rankings there and you'll be crowning Yahoo results as well. One shot – two rabbits dead, so to speak. So let's cut to the chase.
1. Keyword Research
No matter what search engine you're optimizing for your first step is keyword research. You sure already have a list of keywords that you pursue on Google, but search habits of Yahoo and Bing users are not necessarily the same. That's why it's a good idea to use specific keyword research tools for those search engines just to make sure you're on the right track and check if there are additional keyword opportunities.
In case you wonder why you should care about Yahoo keyword tools since it's Bing that determines the rankings, the thing is Yahoo users will retain their search habits (at least for a while), so Yahoo keyword tools may still be useful.
Depending on the niche there may not be a huge difference in the keywords people use on Google, Yahoo or Bing but it's still worth investigating.
2. Rankings Check
As soon as you have your list of keywords you need to check where you currently stand in terms of rankings. This way you'll see how much work is needed to get a decent ranking for each keyword and you'll learn what webpage ranks best for each term, so you know what page to optimize. So that's another two-rabbit shot here.
You don't really need to check your site's positions on Yahoo as they mirror your Bing rankings.
Checking your Bing rankings is enough. You can quickly do this with the help of Rank Tracker (get a free version if you don't have one) or with any other ranking tool you use.
Once you know your Bing rankings, compare them against those on Google. If your Google and Bing rankings come close or are the same, you don't really need to do anything specific for Bing. Just carry on with the SEO work you're already doing and SEO software you're using.
If your Bing rankings are considerably lower than your Google positions you'll need to put in some extra Bing-focused SEO effort.
3. Optimize your site for Bing
If you compare the search results on Google and Bing you'll see that the two engines rank sites differently. The difference in results suggests that there's also a difference in ranking factors and the value attached to them.
Among other things Bing tends to put more weight on domain age, topical relevancy and outbound linking. Let's see what SEO factors play a role in your Bing rankings and how you can optimize your site to drive your website up.
- On-page SEO
There's no magic bullet for Bing as far as the content optimization goes. Cover the basics and you're good to go: put out unique content, optimize your page titles, H tags and meta-descriptions, strategically employ your keywords in the body, optimize images and so on. Try to focus on one topic per page as theme relevancy is really important on Bing.
- Relevant Inbound Links
Link relevancy is another key to high rankings on the decision engine. Bing tends to favor links coming from pages with the same or similar topic. Try to acquire links from pages with your targeted keywords in the title, URL, H tags and in the body. Links with your target keywords in the anchor texts are even more effective on Bing than on Google, so be sure to take care of that as well.
- Linking Out
It's not just who links to you that's important. Outgoing links are also a factor on Bing. By linking out to authority sites in your niche (where appropriate of course) you increase the authority of your own site and as a result get a ranking boost.
- Blogs vs News Sites
We've all heard about Google's love for blogs because of their fresh content. There are a lot of results from blogs in Google News as well as in the news block in the general SERPs. Bing on the other hand tends to give preference to major news sites. Blogs don’t often make their way into the news sections on Bing, but so if you're a news blog it may take more effort to get a high ranking on Bing.
- Domain Age
Bing tends to favor old domains even more than Google. The older the site, the more chances it has to rank well on Bing. This tip has not much of a take-away to it, apart from something like: Go, age your domain. Domains are not jeans and the artificial aging trick doesn't work here, so just sit back and let your domain grow old.
If you want more Bing SEO advice you'll find links to a lot of additional reading in this post on SEO for Bing.
Check how the switch to Bing affected your Yahoo rankings
If you haven't been watching your organic rankings in Yahoo you’re probably wondering how this transition affected your site's positions.
Well guess what? There's a way to check where your site used to rank in Yahoo before the switch.
No, we didn't build a time machine in case you ask. The workaround is pretty simple. If you query Yahoo! through an API key you get old data. The thing is Yahoo's API data is updated with a bit of a time lag which is just enough for you to see where you ranked before Bing started powering Yahoo search results. The very time lag which used to bug many of us now turns out to be pretty helpful, eh?
Here's how the trick works.
- Fire up Rank Tracker (you can get a free version here it'll do just fine) or any other rank checker that supports Yahoo! API key.
- Open one of your projects or create a new one.
- Get a Yahoo API key.
- Go to 'Preferences' -> 'Search Engines API keys', enable Yahoo! API and enter your key.
- Run a rankings check in Yahoo! and Bing with Yahoo! API on.
Rank Tracker will check your rankings and fetch the results. 'Yahoo! Rank' column will show your Yahoo! rankings before the change (because you use Yahoo! API data) and 'Bing Rank' column will display where you site currently ranks in Yahoo! because your Bing and Yahoo rankings are now exactly the same.
Bonus Tip: If you check your Yahoo! rankings with an API today and run another check without an API tomorrow you'll see your rankings progress displayed in the Yahoo! difference column.
So how's the switch of Yahoo to Bing treating your site? Share your rankings progress in the comments.
P.S. We're not sure how long it will take Yahoo! to update their API data, but this workaround should probably work for another week or so.
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