SEO Team Enablement

Bada-Bing! All About the Yahoo-Microsoft Search Alliance

Last night, a contingent of Conductors headed down to SEMPO NYC’s latest event, “Inside the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance,” to get the insider dish on the Yahoo-Microsoft partnership.

The event was held in Microsoft’s 6th Avenue NYC headquarters, and the discussion was led by Rob Wilk, National Director – Search Optimization & Strategy at Yahoo!, and Michael Elmgreen, Account Executive, Search Agency Sales at Microsoft . The audience consisted largely of search agency representatives looking to understand the search transition in order to disseminate information to their clients. While Wilk and Elmgreen spent the lion’s share of the discussion quelling worries about the alliance’s effect on current Yahoo PPC campaigns, there was much to be learned about how organic results will be served up post-transition.  Here are the highlights:

  • The order of the results will be identical in Yahoo and Bing, and Yahoo! search results will display a “Powered by Bing” logo.
  • The search experience on the two engines will be the same, yet both engines will retain their look and feel, so news and image results will differ.
  • Once the alliance is finalized, The two engines together will net about 30.4% of search share, roughly 4.8 billion searches per month. This alliance will provide the first true competitive search threat to Google in years.
  • Both speakers recommended a few best practices for websites looking to capitalize on the merger. They kept the suggestions general, but recommended that companies and agencies compare current rankings and traffic for top terms between Yahoo! and Bing to assess the potential change, along with optimizing websites more aggressively for the Bing algorithm using resources such as Bing’s webmaster tools.
  • As for timeline, Yahoo! started testing Bing results within their organic search in July, with 25% of Yahoo! organic results currently being powered by Bing.  There will be a full scale transition of all organic results in August and September.  The PPC transition will occur more gradually, with 3% of Yahoo! search results being powered by Bing now, a slow full ramp up to a full transition is expected by October of this year.

Not all aspects of the deal have been finalized since the alliance was only approved in February. The fate of some of Yahoo’s services, including the popular Site Explorer indexing tool, remain a mystery for now.

Wilk and Elmgreen kept it light throughout the presentation, cracking jokes with the audience and fielding the probing questions during Q&A without batting an eye.  The conversation did take a serious turn, though, once an audience member asked why Yahoo would give up its search algorithm completely.  The question was a plea to make sense of the drastic change for those of us who have long known Yahoo to be #2 player in the search industry.

Wilk answered the question head-on. He took a step back, reminding us that Yahoo, at its core, is a media company while Microsoft excels at technology. The alliance, Wilk explained, allows both companies to focus on what they do best. Elmgreen added that for the next 10 years, Microsoft will be able to license part or all of Yahoo’s search technology, leaving it up in the air as to what exactly will be the makeup of the Bing/Yahoo algorithm moving forward.

Nobody knows exactly how the Yahoo-Bing alliance will affect the big picture in search in the future, but suffice to say that marketers should keep a close eye on more than just Google in the next 2 months.

Keep on Searching,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Conductor Account Management Team