It's been quite some time since Yahoo! and Bing closed the search deal that enabled Microsoft to power both organic and paid search results on Yahoo!. It was a huge event for the whole search industry and everyone involved in search marketing has been eagerly waiting for the search giants to implement their agreement.
Now it looks like the launch of the new 'Binghoo' engine is finally approaching. According to the official statement from the Microsoft-Yahoo! Search Alliance (the official name for the partnership) they've already started testing Bing's algo on Yahoo! and are planning to complete the transition in the coming months.
Obviously the implementation of the search merger will bring about significant changes to the search landscape. Let's see what implications this migration will have for both SEO and PPC. But first some details on the transition schedule.
Full transition is scheduled to take place in August-September for organic search and September-October for paid advertising. Of course the transition will only proceed if the testing is successful. Mid October through January is the protected holiday period, so if the transition is not complete by that time it'll be postponed till after the holidays.
Both Yahoo! and Bing emphasize that they want a quality transition so if they are not happy with the way it's going the migration won't take place till 2011.
No doubt, once the search deal is implemented and Microsoft takes charge of Yahoo! search we'll see big changes on the search landscape. The search alliance will impact both SEO and PPC. So, it's a good idea to take a look at possible implications now to get yourself armed and ready to meet new challenges and opportunities that the coming transition will bring.
Implications for SEO
Increased search volume
If you've been living in the Google world and never cared about Bing or Yahoo! it's time to change your perspective, because the search merger will result in a significant market share increase for the allied search team. Sure Google will still generate the majority of search traffic, but the combined market share of Bing and Yahoo! will come close to 29.5% according to comScore's latest Core Search Report.
When there's a search engine that accounts for almost a third of search traffic, you simply can't miss out on the opportunity to tap into that traffic source. With 4.8 billion monthly searches in the US alone, the combined search engine becomes a large marketing pool to fish in.
One Ranking Algo
That's what the deal is actually all about. Bing will be powering Yahoo! search so basically it'll be Bing search on Yahoo's domain. After the transition there will be one search algorithm behind both Bing and Yahoo and it'll be that of Bing.
There were significant differences in how the two search engines ranked sites so if you wanted to rank well on both you had to take that into account. Soon you will no longer need to optimize differently for Bing and Yahoo! (if you did that of course) because there will be no Bing and Yahoo, just Bing. And this brings us to the second important point.
Yahoo! Rankings = Bing Rankings
Since the two search engines will share one algorithm the search results will be the same as well. That means your Bing rankings are soon to become your Yahoo! rankings too. This is good news if you rank better with Bing. If on the other hand you rely on Yahoo! for traffic and Bing doesn't treat your site all that well, you need to take quick action to ensure that your traffic is not affected by the transition.
Anyway it may be a good idea to check your Yahoo! and Bing rankings for your major keywords to see which way your rankings will go once Bing starts delivering search results on Yahoo!
Implications for PPC
Of course the effect of the coming transition won't be limited to the SEO realm. Changes are coming to PPC as well. If you're advertising on Bing, Yahoo! or both you need to revise your campaigns to get them ready for the joint platform. Let's take a look at some of the major changes expected to come with the transition process.
One management system
Since Bing will be serving all the PPC ads on Yahoo! advertisers will have to use Microsoft adCenter account to manage their ads across both networks. So if you structure and manage your campaigns on Yahoo! and Bing differently you need to start thinking about how you're going to migrate your Yahoo! account to the AdCenter.
Basically there are 3 options to manage the transition of your Yahoo! account to Microsoft adCenter
- Simply leave the adCenter account (delete Yahoo! account)
If you have a well-maintained adCenter account that has all the keywords, ad groups and ads you need you can simply turn off your Yahoo! account and continue using adCenter account for both networks. This is perhaps the easiest option. Plus this way you'll be able to save all your historical data such as CTRs, conversion rates, etc.
- Import your Google account into Bing as a new account
If for some reason you can't go with your existing adCenter account or simply don’t have one you can create a new account and import the details from a third party advertising platform such as Google AdWords.
- Migrate your Yahoo! account to Bing
If you don't have an adCenter account and want to maintain the settings and structure of your Yahoo! account you can create a new account at adCenter and migrate your Yahoo! account details there.
The search alliance team promised to have an automated process for this that will assess feature differences between accounts and adjust them for you, as well as expand on your Yahoo! keyword list to maintain the impressions volume. This is also an easy one-click option but as with any fully-automated process there's a chance that something may get lost during the transition process.
If there's going to be more traffic for SEO obviously there're going to be more eyeballs on your PPC ads as well. Experts expect impressions to go up by 20% for Bing advertisers once the transition is complete.
Traffic Quality issue
One of the major issues with the transition that has already popped up is that there won't be an option to target the traffic on Bing and Yahoo! separately. It's hard to say whether the traffic is better on Yahoo! or Bing. That largely depends on the business. What works for one advertiser may not be as affective for another. Still the traffic on Bing is not the same as on Yahoo! and many advertisers would like to set different bids and try different strategies for Bing and Yahoo!, but unfortunately they won't be able to do it.
What's Your Take?
What do you expect of the upcoming transition and how do you prepare for the new search engine? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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