By Melissa Luther
The Microsoft/Yahoo! merger deal recently received regulatory approval from both the U.S. and E.U., and they are moving forward with their search alliance. As a result, Bing will replace Yahoo’s search algorithm, and the Yahoo! Search Marketing platform will migrate to Microsoft’s adCenter. Essentially Microsoft will power the search technology for both companies, while Yahoo! focuses on users’ search experience.
What does this mean for your SEO and PPC advertising efforts? In theory, it should make your job a little easier, since you will have to deal with only two major search companies instead of three.
How Microsoft/Yahoo! Alliance Will Affect SEO
The search alliance should have no real effect on organic SEO. The search engines have always all used different algorithms, but good SEO translated across them and still should. Rankings may shift slightly, but that has always been true, even within the same search engine, as competitors change their SEO efforts or the engines tweak their algorithms.
Google still gets the vast majority of total searches anyway, 65 percent, according to an August 2009 study by Search Engine Watch. Unless a significant portion of your traffic has been coming from Yahoo!, you won’t need to alter your organic SEO efforts.
How Microsoft/Yahoo! Alliance Will Affect PPC Advertising
According to Search Alliance, the new service will provide better value to advertisers. The combined network will bring your message to more searchers across both Yahoo! and Microsoft sites, as well as both companies’ premium partner sites. The exception is display and content ads, which will remain separate.
The alliance also claims the service will be more “engaging and personalized” for consumers. Presumably, this will attract more searches, thus increasing your potential reach. Most likely, it will take time for any increased exposure to produce increased traffic.
And time will be the key. Google still has about 80 percent of the PPC market share, according to a March 2009 blog post by the Rimm-Kaufmann Group. That leaves 20 percent for the Search Alliance. Of course, if it can provide the better value and search experience that it’s promising, that share will grow. But it won’t happen overnight.
As far as your YSM or adCenter accounts go, the transition is supposed to be seamless to advertisers and partners, with no changes to accounts until late 2010 or even 2011. So at least for a few more months, you should be able to use them just as you always have. If you haven’t yet used adCenter, you might want to start, so that you will be ready when YSM goes away.
Eventually, customer support services will be split between the two companies. Yahoo! will provide support for high-volume agencies and resellers of PPC services, while Microsoft will serve the do-it-yourselfers, probably you.
The takeaway lesson: Prepare for change, but don’t expect it to happen quickly. Google won’t give up market share easily, and it will take time for both advertisers and consumers to decide if the joint network is really better.
About the Author
Melissa J. Luther, owner and founder of LookSee Information Solutions, LLC, helps small businesses create and maintain a strong Internet presence. She takes a multi-channel approach, with a well-optimized Web site as the center of an Internet presence that includes content creation, PPC advertising, linking and social media as appropriate.