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Yahoo + Bing = ?

So it has now officially been reported that Yahoo and Microsoft have struck a deal. Preliminary reports suggest that Bing.com will power Yahoo’s search results and Yahoo will handle advertising sales. Obviously this causes a lot of uncertainty in the SEO field. Will Yahoo’s results now show exactly the same results as Bing.com? If so that will cause a major shift in the SEO field to studying Microsoft’s search algorithm which until now most marketers dismissed as a waste of time.

Will Bing.com continue to separate their results page into categories? Personally I think their current system is not very useful. They seem to be attempting to figure out what subjects for a given search phrase that users are looking for. I have yet to figure out their reasoning for this, it would seem search users are intelligent enough to be more specific in their search phrases if they wish to get results related to a sub theme of their main phrase.

The biggest problem from an SEO prospective is that it seems Bing.com is only showing 5 true natural results for a search, then they start their category separation. On the positive side I think Bing.com’s results are better then Yahoo’s.

When all is said and done I don’t think this will help gain market share from Google, mainly because both Yahoo and MSN (Bing) are not search focused. When a user thinks about “search” Google is always the king. I think people that search on Yahoo or MSN do it simply for convenience because they are already on those sites for another reason. Clearly Yahoo and MSN offer much more content on their home pages for users. I personally have my default browser set to Yahoo because I think they offer a quick glimpse of what’s going on in the world. And since I am already there I sometimes just search right from their site. But when I really want to search for something specific and want the best results I still go to Google.

I have also noticed that Yahoo has started to “sell out” in terms of natural results. If you look at the results after doing a search in Yahoo you will see they are now showing 4 PPC results above the natural results. In lots of screen resolutions this pushes the natural results below the fold or close to it. I think if they continue doing this, or dare I say add even more PPC results above the natural search results they will begin to lose search credibility. Hopefully they come to their senses and limit the PPC results to 3.

Time will tell what the true fall out of this deal will be, but I think Yahoo/MSN/Bing still have a lot to figure out and Google still seems to stay one step ahead of everyone. Look out for a follow up post in the near feature after this deal starts taking effect.

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