On July 29, 2009 Microsoft and Yahoo! signed an agreement confirming that Microsoft’s search engine Bing will power Yahoo! search. Online marketing agencies and businesses should analyse how this will affect their search engine optimisation (SEO) campaigns.
Microsoft and Yahoo!, as well as quite a few online marketing agencies, are probably hoping that this “merger” of sorts will put the pressure on Google and begin taking over some of its current market share. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, is certainly throwing down the gauntlet in his announcement about the deal:
“Microsoft and Yahoo! know there’s so much more that search could be. This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search.”
As it stands, Google currently owns approximately 79% of the total search engine market share according to global market share statistics. Yahoo! comes in second with 7.16% and Bing is third with 3.17%. These figures are likely to change by the time these search engine changes are implemented but as it stands, combined, Yahoo! and Microsoft make up about 10.33% of the market share.
When it comes to online marketing agencies and businesses running SEO campaigns, perhaps the most important point to understand is that this deal does not mean that Yahoo! search is dead. Microsoft will be acquiring a 10 year license to all of Yahoo!’s core search technologies, which means that we will most likely see some of Yahoo!’s technology being integrated with that of Bing to improve overall performance.
According to Microsoft and Yahoo!’s official announcement, implementation may take up to 24 months, so there is plenty of time for online marketing agencies to prepare for the integration. How each SEO services company prepares for this major shift will depend on their own processes and how much importance they actually place on any search engine other than Google.
Top online marketing agencies will recognise that focusing at least some of their resources on SEO for Bing is now worth the effort because Bing’s overall market share will certainly be increasing once the Bing and Yahoo! search integration is complete. Bing’s Webmaster Tools are worth signing up for as well, although they are still in their early stages and not as advanced as Google’s Webmaster Central.
It is also important to remember that online marketing agencies will need to stay on top of Bing’s search engine algorithm. Now that Bing has acquired Yahoo!’s core search technologies, it could take a while for Microsoft to find the right balance when it comes to integration and improving Bing’s search. This will likely result in a period of time in which no aspect of Bing’s search engine algorithm will be certain or definite. Online marketing agencies will need to learn to keep up with Bing’s fine-tuning of their search technologies to keep their SEO clients’ website at their optimum rankings.