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Friday, November 27, 2009

Microsoft and Yahoo!, Bing and Search

I've been telling you I'm going to show you how to master Yahoo!'s search, and I am, but I first need to discuss the recent partnership Yahoo! entered with Microsoft. While news of the deal came out this summer, and I meant to discuss it then, events precluded me from doing so. However, some readers may think learning Yahoo!'s search function is unnecessary, since Bing will replace it soon. That's not exactly the case.

At this time, Yahoo! remains #2 in search. While Bing is gaining ground, Google retains a full 2/3 of the search market; there isn't a whole lot of ground left to be gained! But Google's
recent, aggressive attacks on bloggers who employ sponsored posts and advertisers other than AdWords seriously damaged its credibility, not to mention its own results' relevancy! See, Google selectively punishes sites, blogs, and their owners; Google continues to support several, big-name blogs and sites which employ sponsored posts and advertising - namely those which speak favorably of Google and its growing monopoly. Obviously, as Google de-ranks so many (generally small) content providers, it reduces the pool from which it draws returns, resulting in far less relevant search returns, dominated primarily by sponsored and repetitious results.

That Google can't figure out how to make an algorithm that works is not the fault of webmasters or bloggers who sell links; it's Google's fault.

While Bing's accuracy is still lacking, Bing does not try to return all results relating to a search; Bing tries to return only the most relevant. The deal with Yahoo! gives Microsoft access to Yahoo!'s search technology, but Yahoo! retains control over how and when different search approaches are used. The main change is that Yahoo!'s search will now include a little "Powered by Bing" button. IOW, Bing is going to combine Yahoo!'s search accuracy with Bing's relevancy determination.

Webmasters are going to have to change their SEO tactics to include this new search force; previously, webmasters worked hard to see that their site was accepted into the Yahoo! directory, then optimized it to rank high in Google. Google can't tell what is relevant and what is not as it works with little to no real human guidance, while Yahoo!'s directory is compiled by human editors, alone. As Yahoo! continues to distance itself from its directory origins, and Bing streamlines and improve its search capabilities with full access to Yahoo!'s directory and search functions (certainly closely related), this is going to change.

Further, if Google continues to employ strongarm tactics, webmasters and bloggers will eventually abandon SEO practices favoring Google altogether. While this is not really an option right now, I foresee a time when webmasters work to improve their sites and site content to rank higher in Bing/Yahoo! and just pay AdWords to run ads for a few months. Of course, Yahoo! and Microsoft are both hoping to get a chunk of that ad market, but they've admitted their immediate focus is on search.

So, all that said, the whole Yahoo!/Bing partnership doesn't even start, in earnest, for another three years and, even then, Bing is going to be the underlying search provider. I don't look for anything to change significantly for another 3-5 years and even then not before a whole lot of fanfare. Learning to master Yahoo! search will not only make you more productive, it's likely to make you a better searcher, in general - across the entirety of the Web, and not just by engine.

As an aside, Yahoo! will also retain control of advertising to a large degree: Yahoo! can access its search records to sharpen its market focus and ad placement tactics, in addition to receiving a whopping 88% of that revenue for the first five years! From that perspective, Yahoo! has every incentive to strengthen its advertising, allowing Microsoft all the time it needs to focus on search. Some "analysts" will dispute what I say, but they're looking at things from a different perspective; this is how things are from the trenches. Who would know better?

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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