Breaking Down the Impact of the Yahoo!/Bing Merger

Breaking Down the Impact of the Yahoo!/Bing Merger

When Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a search alliance last summer, it sent shockwaves through the Internet community. Yahoo! would leverage the Microsoft Bing search technology for its own search pages while flexing its online advertising deal on behalf of both companies. The deal was seen as a win-win for both companies as they attempt to wrest market share from Google, which has more users and searches in the United States than both Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! combined.

While the merger made sense for Microsoft and Yahoo! on many different levels, SEO professionals, advertisers and online marketing experts were left to ponder exactly how it would impact their lives. Yahoo! announced on July 20 that it was beginning to test the integration of Bing organic and paid search information for up to 25 percent of its search market. The beta nature of the testing means there are still plenty of unanswered questions but there are certain facts that are becoming clearer as the process continues.

Most importantly, it's becoming obvious that optimizing for Bing's existing standards is going to be important whether you are doing SEO or PPC campaigns. Some of these changes are clear-cut, such as adjusting ad titles to meet Bing's 25-character requirement instead of Yahoo!'s 40-character maximum.

Other changes will be more subtle. On the PPC side, the Microsoft adCenter is going to become the default interface for managing Yahoo! advertising campaigns. While it's not a complex system and should be easy for new people to pick up, it's still important to take some time to familiarize yourself with it as soon as possible. New services will also give previous Yahoo! advertising clients additional services such as enhanced negative keyword limitations, the ability to block domains or opt out of the Yahoo!/Bing network and advanced campaigns targeted through demographic criteria such as location, gender, age or race.

With organic search information expected to roll over to Bing by September, people involved in SEO campaigns need to make sure that they are optimizing for Bing quickly. Many of the basic SEO concepts that have applied to Google or Yahoo! in the past also hold true for Bing but there are some unique exceptions.

For example, Bing places less value on backlinks as Google does and more emphasis on links surrounded by anchor text. On-page optimization factors such as keywords linked with URLs, title tags and internal link anchor text are all factors which appear to be weighted heavily by Bing when it makes its search engine ranking determinations.

The Bing Webmaster Central is a useful place for SEO professionals to learn more information about the optimization specifics for the search engine. One useful resource is the "Backlinks" section which provides similar data on backlinks and inlinks as the Yahoo! Site Explorer. Webmasters, SEO firms and marketing professionals will want to compare data between the two sites during the rollover in order to better understand how the changes are impacting their links.

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