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Stephen Logan

Are You Ready for the Yahoo/Bing Merger?

22nd Jul 2010 SEO 3 minutes to read

The YaBing search merger has been in the pipeline for almost a year now, but for the first time we’re seeing the first real signs of transition; so are you ready for the changeover?

A mere 51 weeks after the landmark merger was announced, Yahoo finally looks to be testing Bing features. With Microsoft looking to take over both the paid and organic search duties for Yahoo and their own Bing search engine, the cautionary pace is perhaps understandable.

Just yesterday the Bing Community blog announced that testing was beginning. Satya Nadella, Senior Vice President of the Online Services Division had this to say about current activities:

“We’ve got a couple of tests going on right now to test both our ability to deliver high performance, quality algorithmic results, as well as power search advertising for both companies.”

Whilst this is only currently being carried out in the U.S. and Canada, where an earlier rollout is more likely (within the “next few months” apparently”), we’re finally edging towards a two horse race in the search and PPC markets here in the UK.

But, no sooner had Bing officially announced their intentions, Internet commentators were already noticing results. For example, Search Engine Roundtable picked up on identical organic results in their post Screen Shot: I Am Seeing Bing Results on Yahoo. Sure enough, the results are pretty similar.

Unfortunately they don’t appear to be testing here as yet, so there’s no duplicity in results across the two search engines currently. However, this is the first and clearest sign of things to come.

So what does this mean for your Search Engine Marketing efforts?

In terms of SEO, your job should become a little more straightforward. Rather than optimising for three search engines (or more, if you also target Ask, AOL etc.), you will soon only need to be concerned about rankings in the two major ones – Bing and Google.

You will of course probably need to be a little more aware of Bing rankings though. So making sure that you have their Webmaster Tools installed and understand what the Bingbot is seeing is a must. For information about this, see Mike’s post from yesterday – Bing Webmaster Tools Update – Look Familiar Google?

How about PPC?

When it comes to PPC, things might be a little trickier. If you aren’t currently using adCenter but do have campaigns running on the Yahoo Search Marketing platform, your accounts will be automatically transferred over to the Microsoft platform. As they have slight differences, including match types (adCenter has three – like Google – whilst Yahoo only has two) and how keywords are assigned, you will need to optimise your accounts ready for the transition. For a useful guide on the intricacies check out Details on How the Yahoo/MSN Merger Will Affect Your PPC Campaign on SearchEngineWatch.

If of course you just have the AdCenter account, or even both, you should be fine. Just focus your attention on building this up and your ads will be on both Yahoo and Bing soon enough (for better or worse).

For those who perhaps haven’t considered using an alternative PPC provider, now might not be the worse time to do so. Between them, Bing and Yahoo receive a little over 6 percent of all visits to search engines (for comparison, Google gets around 84%). So whilst their combined usage might only be a fraction of Google, there is still decent potential. Better still the effectiveness won’t be watered down and you won’t have to do the work twice.

This is very much going to be an ongoing story. Clearly there are still plenty of tests that will need to be carried out and I wouldn’t expect any wholesale changes until much later in the year here in the UK. Still though, it’s always worth being prepared.

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