The SEO Impact of the Microsoft Bing Yahoo Search Merger

As you have all heard, Yahoo gave up today. Epic give up. Danny Sullivan wrote a great eulogy over at Search Engine Land, and Jason Calacanis said, “Yahoo committed seppuku today.” And over at TechCrunch, “Today, Yahoo died as a search engine.” To make it more depressing – I have already seen name mashups like YooBing, BingYoo, YaBing, Bingoo, BingYah, MicroHoo, BingYa, etc…

I’ve got to admit: Today, I actually teared up a little. I remember surfing Yahoo in 1995, looking for Cliffs Notes for Grendel. Yahoo was the only place to go. I mean, search is a space that Yahoo created! WTF are they doing by throwing in the towel? Yahoo had 20% market share in search. What were they thinking? Obviously, this deal benefits Microsoft more than it benefits Yahoo. So sad…

How about the SEO impacts of the merger of Yahoo and Microsoft Bing? There are a few that come to mind:

  • Will the link: and linkdomain: search operators continue to work on the new Yahoo?
    A few years ago, MSN disabled the link: and linkdomain: search operators at msn.com. This was an important day because you could no longer check MSN’s database stats for inbound links for a site. It came back about a year later, and then went away again. If you haven’t noticed, Google’s link: operator sucks. Google doesn’t want you to know all the links for a site, so the link: command on Google always returns an extremely low, inaccurate number of inbound links. Those bastards! But if you have a WebmasterCentral account for your site(s), you can see some more actual/honest inbound link data. With MSN and Google not providing any worthwhile backlink data, we have been forced to use Yahoo’s linkdomain: operator. Yahoo’s backlink data is much more honest and accurate. For the most part, checking back links is great for 2 purposes: 1) checking your own site(s) backlinks quantity and 2) checking your competitors’ backlinks. If Yahoo uses MSN’s search algorithm and the linkdomain: operator is disabled, it’s going to be really tough to check your competitors’ backlink growth. Furthermore, it will be tough to tell if they are buying links. I’m not into reporting people for buying links, but if you are, you may want to invest in some new backlink tool.
  • What happens to the Yahoo Search Directory?
    This one is interesting. As the Yahoo Directory (dir.yahoo.com) is a money-maker, I can’t imagine Yahoo or Microsoft getting rid of it. However, you may recall that MSN once had a Small Business Directory (archive view) at sbd.bcentral.com. There were thousands of sites in that directory. Now that site redirects to the MS OfficeLive website. If MSN got rid of their own directory, what might they do with the Yahoo Directory? It’s a good question. In terms of link authority and trust, the Yahoo Directory is the #2 directory behind DMOZ. But unlike DMOZ, you can pay $299 per year to be in the the Yahoo Directory. It’s a highly-respected directory, and unlike DMOZ, you won’t have to waits months on end with no answer. As long as you have a good site, you can get into the Yahoo Directory for $299 per year. But if the Yahoo Directory is discontinued….holy crap. That is a lot of link juice that will just evaporate. A lot of sites will lose quality historical links. Maybe it will shake things up a bit. Maybe not. Either way, you may want to make sure your sites find their way into other trusted directories, like business.com and botw.org.
  • What happens to Yahoo’s feeds programs, such as Paid Inclusion and SSP?
    Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion and Search Submit Pro (SSP) programs are crucial traffic and revenue sources for many search agencies and online retailers. It’s a huge business, and without it, many online retailers would see massive drops in revenue. Essentially, these programs allow you to pay for organic rankings in Yahoo on a pay-per-click basis. You may not know this, but for several years, MSN used Google and  Yahoo for its search. It wasn’t until LiveSearch launched that MSN actually broke away from Yahoo and Google. During the time MSN was using Yahoo for its search platform, Yahoo feeds were showing up in MSN results. But when LiveSearch launched on 9/11/2006, MSN no longer had a feeds program. They didn’t use one for LiveSearch, and there is currently no feeds program for Bing. As Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion and SSP programs are critical components for agencies and retailers alike, it should be a no-brainer to keep the programs active as part of the Microsoft search platform. But I guess we’ll have to see what happens.

    Update: Yahoo Search Submit Pro (SSP) Discontinued Effective Dec. 31, 2009

  • What happens to Yahoo channels such as Yahoo Shopping and Yahoo Travel?
    This is really just an extension to the previous question, but these are huge sources of traffic. Be sure to keep an eye on what happens with these channels. Yahoo Shopping is HUGE. I mean HUGE!!!! I can’t imagine anything happening to it. I can’t even imagine them merging it with Bing Shopping or Bing Cashback. That would be stupid.
  • One less searchbot crawling the internet
    We’ll miss you, Yahoo Slurpbot. You traveled long. You traveled far. You did your job without complaining once. You were a true soldier. RIP, Slurpbot.
  • Rank checkers will have one less engine to check
    Whereas you were probably checking Google, Yahoo and Bing for rankings, now you’ll just have to run your keyword lists across Google and Bing. And honestly, some website owners might be happy with the results, as many sites rank much better in Bing than in Yahoo.
  • Ask.com quietly moves into position as the #3 search engine
    Ha! I still miss Jeeves. He was a trooper. But also be aware that LBi Netrank has some data showing that Ask.com is (sometimes) scraping Google for search results. Are we losing Yahoo and Ask?!?!?!
  • Optimizing for Google and Bing at the same time
    It kinda sucks, but SEOs get accused of only optimizing for Google. It happens all the time, and all we have to do is point to the fact that Google has a 70% market share (and depending on the vertical, it’s sometimes higher). And then clients remind us that Yahoo has 20% and Microsoft Bing has 8%. At that point, we continue to point at Google’s 70% market share. But now, according to comScore, Yahoo’s 20% will combine with Bing’s 8% market share to combine for 28% of the market share. 28% market share is nothing to sneeze at, so we have to focus on both Google and Bing. While Google and Bing both respond to strategic SEO methods, it is worthwhile to note that Google gives more weight to links and Bing gives more weight to a site’s domain name (i.e. You’d better have keywords in your domain name & URL!). In my experience, Google and Bing are a lot closer in terms of how they value traditional SEO methods. Keywords in the title tag, keywords in the domain, organized site structure, updated content with decent keyword density, optimized internal links, inbound link growth – both engines reward these methods, as they are the basic building blocks of an SEO campaign. And while these are common signals for all 3 engines, my experience leads me to believe that Google and Bing reward these methods more quickly and predictably. Furthermore, seeing how Bing is pulling in more content into its search results pages, you may want to pay more attention to how your content is optimized and arranged on your site’s pages.

Well, that’s all for today. We’ll miss you, Yahoo. I’m still upset. I hope you find happiness. I know we can be friends again some day in the future, but please don’t call me now. I need some time to get over you.

Update:

  • John Battelle: Questions on the Yahoo Bing Deal (link)
  • SEOmoz: Top 10 Things the Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal Changes for SEO (link)

8 thoughts on “The SEO Impact of the Microsoft Bing Yahoo Search Merger”

  1. That’s truly sad that the founder-innovator for search is now walking away, but I don’t think they can turn the switch off that fast.

  2. I love it when an intricate, fiendish plan comes together!
    Here is the She-CEO of Yahoo (Carol Bats) and myself signing the final agreement to give Microsoft control over the entire backend for Yahoo’s entire search! Yahoo will handle ads, marketing, hosting and all that kinda’ crap, but we will be the ones in charge of the main product, SEARCH! I was so happy as I was signing this that I almost … well, I was happy!
    The She-CEO tried to put a good spin on Yahoo’s surrender, she said,
    “We never really liked search anyways! We are letting these people handle that stuff while we pursue the cool stuff ya’know!”
    Miss Bats, have you ever heard of a Puppet master?
    Oh well, it has been a VERY good week here at Microsoft! Very good indeed!
    (In the meanwhile, the man who opposed me at Yahoo (The Vagrant Yang) continues to marinate in his own feecees on the streets of Redmond!
    Let him be a lesson to all!

  3. >>Will the link: and linkdomain: search operators continue to work on the new Yahoo?<<

    My first blog comment with my new hat on! Clearly the lack of the linkdomain command will be a blow if it goes, but not the end of the world. Majestic, Linkscape and Exalead have all been developing backlink data – (although only Majestic has scale as large as Yahoo… in fact we think ours is three times larger than Yahoo's). Unfortunately, of course, we are not free – but you can get the absolute number free from the site or from Aaron Wall's seobook toolbar.

  4. It is definitely an exciting time in SEO. Wasnt long ago that Yahoo was number 1 in Alexa.

    If the link: search command becomes obsolete in Yahoo then it will create a lot of headaches when it comes to competitor backlink analysis. Its not only a headache for webmasters performing the search but also for the creators and programmers of the SEO analysis programs that rely on Yahoo backlink results.

    The market share of Bing will definitely not jump to 28% after the change over. I think at least 20 or 30% of Yahoo searchers will jump to Google. Not saying Bings SERPS are bad but there are a lot of Microsoft haters and Yahoo resenters out there that will jump over to Google. Inturn increasing Googles manopoly over the search market and internet real estate.

  5. That definitely blows, I have preferred yahoo over any other search engine for the last few years. Mainly due to the spam that you do get from Google.

    If I am searching for something IMO you definitely receive more relevant results from Yahoo and Less affiliate marketers trying to sell you some crap.

    Yahoo, (the last clean search engine) you will be missed. 🙁

  6. I think that Bing is not as good as Google. Google would still index new websites faster than Bing. Microsoft would still need a lot of catching to do with GoogleBot.

  7. I use both Bing and Google search engine and i don’t see much difference in their search results. I use Google for searching hard to find academic topics and Bing for general search.

  8. great … just what the world needs … more micro$uks products in it. lol, they’ve never been able to make software that was worth a crap … how could they possibly believe they could create a SE, worth a damn ?

    It will be buggy, it will suk … it will be wayyy behind the curve … predict it will be a disaster. Microsoft’s idea of innovation … is to wait for someone else to invent something and then copy it. 😀

    Sure the people at google are dancing in the aisles … they’ve got a windfall of migrating users and ad revenue to look forward to.

    So even though I dont know the specs on this nonsense … feel confident that M$ could mess up a wet dream. If its anything like the rest of their crap, you’ll need 4000 upgrades and 2 million sec patches to use their SE and it still wont work correctly. 😀

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