Before Google achieved domination over the search engine market, there were a number of other, smaller contenders that developed a loyal following, such as Ask.com and Dogpile. Most Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies are now targeted for Google only. However, Yahoo and Bing still function as popular search engine alternatives.
Therefore, SEO gurus should understand any differences in strategies that will bring strong page rankings from these “other” search engines, along with maximizing Google ratings. As all SEO veterans know, giving search engines what they like – and avoiding features that they don’t – is the key to higher page rankings. The differences among these engines is slight, but can influence site optimization to a degree.
Search Engines Rank Keywords Differently
Because of the secrecy search engines use to protect the integrity of their algorithms, it is impossible to accurately identify specific differences. Many veteran SEO professionals believe the other search engines treat keywords differently. The prevailing theory is that Google puts much weight on keywords in URL’s, while Bing favors keyword-rich content, with Yahoo somewhere in between.
Backlinks are another factor that draws strong attention. However, the three primary search engines treat backlinks differently in their algorithms. All three place high importance on the use of backlinks, albeit somewhat differently in their formulas. Google now calculates page ranks more based on the “quality” of backlinks, penalizing those sites that favor “quantity,” regardless of the backlink relevance. Yahoo and Bing place less weight on backlink origins or quality. All three, however, pay close attention to backlinks in their page-ranking formulas mandating that websites use them properly.
Content Quality Factors Highly
All three prime-time players – PTPers – as famed basketball announcer Dick Vitale would say, agree that “content is king.” A variation on the timeless computer cliche, “garbage in, garbage out,” the top search engines use content quality as the major factor in rating websites. Internet and SEO marketing professionals realize the overwhelming importance of using only high-quality content on their sites to achieve high page rankings.
Some observers believe there may be a resurgence of the formerly successful 1990s strategy of using multiple websites optimized for different search engines. They contend that, as more companies create “mirror” sites optimized for mobile markets, companies may also resurrect the multiple website strategy of two decades ago.
However, there are an equal number of SEO experts who dispute the value of this theory. Spreading internal or external quality content creators too thin, designing websites specifically for different search engines or spending the extra time and money to create and maintain three or more not quite identical sites is unnecessary and could be dangerous. These observers tout that good SEO is good SEO.
As Yahoo and Bing modify their algorithms to move closer to Google formulas, the differences in the “other” search engines becomes ever more minor. Concentrating SEO efforts on one outstanding website – and, possibly, a variation optimized for mobile users – is the best idea. Search strategies focused on satisfying Google preferences also should result in strong page rankings with competing search engines.
In a few minutes, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will take the stage in Santa Clara California at SMX West. I’m watching the live feed provided by our friends at WebProNews. Running from today (March2) till March 4th, Search Marketing Expo West is one of the eight annual major search marketing conference and trade shows thrown by Third Door Media.
Third Door co-founder Danny Sullivan is about to conduct a live conversational interview with Steve Ballmer. Danny is one of the best known and most respected voices of the search community and one of the first to popularize search engine marketing in it’s earliest days. Having Steve Ballmer as a keynote interview is a great coup for Danny and SMX.
Promptly at 9:00am pacific time, Danny Sullivan and Steve Ballmer are quickly introduced. The following is a rough play by play of the conversation.
Danny asks about the deal with Yahoo and the time lines.
Ballmer says, Quality from advertiser and user experience depends on relevance of advertising and density of bids. The ability to put together Yahoo and Microsoft’s volumes is absolutely fantastic for both parties. More eyeballs on one campaign, for those here and
more relevant ads for users. There is a huge advantage to scale – good for SEOs
Will greater volumes will improve results for searchers?
As we get more signals, we’ll do a better job providing results. Here’s an example.
Have not had big game changer in search in a while. We’ve seen big shifts in market share but no game changer. Is there something else out there?
There are a number of potential game changers. It is important to be in game with forward momentum and with a differentiated point of view. Total game changer? Ahhh… we’ll get there. We’re finding opportunities for game changers. Will continue to make positive progress. We have not figured out how to remake the business model of search but we think there is a lot of innovation and game changing on search side.
Can you be #1 in US?
There is no good answer to that question. If you say YES, you sound arrogant. If you say NO, you have no faith so the answer has to be YES, someday. No one does things with goal of being second but a fair amount of realism is required about the state of things. It is competitive market. Level of competition in search has ramped up in last few years. Good for advertisers, searchers, users…
Would you be happy as #2?
Again no good answer… We have great optimism. We’ll keep working on it
On the way to being #1…. is Yahoo going to survive as a search player?
For us, the goal has got to be to expand the total amount of searches on our platform. Job 1. We want Yahoo to do a good job of that and we want to do a good job on that. We have given Yahoo a lot of leeway on how to do it. They have a good sense of economics but growing overall search share is job 1 and we need them to be successful with us.
But you’re going to be doing the same thing as them so if you want to be successful in the ….
There are several paths in front of us. There is an advantage to having the power of two as opposed to power of one so I am excited about the partnership as a partnership.
A WSJ article puts Microsoft behind anti-trust complaints against Google…
We have issued a blog post that is pretty open about our issues. There are several items of interest and it is well outlined on at the Microsoft public policy blog. As in our case, a lot times initial complaints come from competitors. We’re not being silent in this game.
In that post, it says “Google’s practices….” You don’t think they’re doing stuff that’s legal? What are those things?
Legal is divined by regulators, not Microsoft. We comment when we have users, publishers and advertisers when they share things with us.
Is anyone out there frustrated with Google
[ONE HAND GOES UP, laughter in room]
The post mentions concern Google has a lock-in on publishers making it hard for Microsoft. What lock-in?
There are a number of things. I don’t want to itemize as there is a lot of nuances. There is a lot of places where it is hard to break through. There’s nothing wrong with a strong position. The book deal, as an example, takes someone with a strong position and gives them a stronger position than anyone else in the space.
You jumping back into books though you left it two years ago? Now we’re concerned from a business standpoint but you didn’t think it was a business then.
We’re participating in a consortium albeit at a lower investment. But one guy got a special deal on scanning books. The world would want a level playing field and one that is appropriate with proper paying to authors and publishers.
Google China. what does that mean for Bing?
Don’t know what is happening with Google. The real force in China is not Bing or Google but Baidu. Google isn’t the side-show. To be #1 competitor, you need to compete or partner effectively with Baidu. Nothing has changed with Google search in China. not sure if it will change.
Distribution Deals. Firefox doesn’t have you…. are you going to yell at them?
I FIND WHEN SELLING TO SOMEONE YELLING DOESN’T WORK!
About Bing powering search on iPhone…
I was in Europe reading about it when a journalist had asked me about it. Weird how rumors fly.
You doing it?
That’s wild stuff. What we want to do is have a good Bing app on the iPhone. Other than that, I’ve read rumors. We’re going to continue to do good job with Bing for iPhone
Did success of iPhone Bing app surprise you?
No. we knew we would get a lot of curiosity and that feeds things. It is free and that’s the right price tag.
There was one report that queries from iPhone are in excess of those from Verizon where you have a commercial deal.
iPhone does deliver a lot but some of the most valuable commercial queries are less likely to be oone from phone but number of queries are huge.
Bing app for Android?
It’s ab it more complicated as Android is not Android is not Android. We have Bing for Blackberry and for iPHone. It is tricky to understand where the market opportunities are for us with Android
How do you see mobile in relation to the search space? Is it the year of mobile.
It is A year for mobile. The number of mobile queries will increase. Not predicting a drop in queries from PC but we’ll see a rise overall. For most people in 3 yrs, most people probably won’t see much difference between platforms though some will be mobile specific.
It’s a new market. The only thing Google benefited from in search is they did it right first. We started later. the other guy had a… there is value in incumbency… We have a value in incumbency in some of the things we’ve done….
How big a chunk of Microsoft do you see search becoming?
Didn’t we answer that question earlier? There is no right answer. I don’t know how long it takes. I don’t know if I’ll be in my 50′s, 60′s. … truth is, we have ambitions to grow. What is the economics of search in the future?
The dynamics of an advertiser supported business are really fantastically interesting. There is something simple to “I build X, sell it, you give me money for it”… “Now, I’m doing something for you, you pay for it, I can’t cut my price for you because it is auction bid so the dynamics of business model competition is fascinating. There is still a whole set of innovations around business model that will make it more efficient for publishing, advertising and users.
What is your time like? You do a lot of search
Take a look at the profile of Microsoft’s businesses. We have seven big businesses. I am generally working at things that are at the intersection. What is the next frontier between search and Office, between Bing and Xbox, and what we’re trying to do with TV? When it gets time to drive the search team, we have people doing that. I give a lot of feedback. I am falling in love with our real time search.
You mention Twitter. Buy them, should you buy them. They have all that beautiful data. Shouldn’t you own them?
Not clear to me. I would hate to NOT have the partnership. if we need to own the company is unclear to me. as an independent, they have credibility. would htey have that credibility if they were captive., not sure.
You going to get on Twitter, I think you should be Yelling at us via Twitter. selling and yelling
the truth is, not terribly much. the things I want to say broadly I am likely to say in a web page than in a series of short tweets. I am a much more of a consumer than author in real time search.
So you have a steath account and we just don’t know where it is?
Ballmer on Bing Loyalty:
We are a religiously PRO BING family. no BLAH BLAH BLAH users. My dad worked at Ford for 30years, I still drive a Lincoln. I hope my kids 50yrs from now will still use a BING
What needs most improvement
We’ve done a lot of great stuff in user experience that we need to consolidate. we’re onto right thing when we talk about making decisions and taking action. How do we dive that? Build relationships with SEOs… we’re on the right wave length. Great opportunities to improve relevance, particularly on ‘tail queries’. then we have to take show on road, we’re in UK, and Canada and a few other countries… we want to expand over the next few years.
Bing maps are fantastic.
What is the biggest opportunity in search?
It ties back to this notion of action. Help people get done what they want to get done.
Ballmer asks the audience:
How should we think about evolution in privacy and confidentiality from POV of user. My belief is we should build around user needs. Some will give up privacy for better service. From this audience’s perspective, I am curious to know if this is a major issue on people’s minds. If so, I’d love to hear how folks are thinking about the issue.
Drawing few responses, he gives his email address and asks for opinions. [email protected]
Real time search results are soon to be a reality for Google as the largest search engine signed a deal with Twitter earlier today.
In an update to the Google Blog, Google VP of Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer confirmed a deal has been struck between the search engine and Twitter.
Given this new type of information and its value to search, we are very excited to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results. We believe that our search results and user experience will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this up-to-the-minute data, and we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months. That way, the next time you search for something that can be aided by a real-time observation, say, snow conditions at your favorite ski resort, you’ll find tweets from other users who are there and sharing the latest and greatest information.
from: RT @google: Tweets and updates and search, oh my!
While no dollar figure was announced, a search deal with Google propels Twitter far further than a similar deal with Bing that was struck last month.
For Google, the inclusion of real time search results in their stream removes a minor but still significant threat from Microsoft by eliminating one of the few obvious differentiators between the two search engines.
Last month, Twitter announced it had closed a deal for $100million in venture capital funds, pushing its valuation over the $1billion mark. With the completion of the Google search deal, Twitter has fully established its grip as the most immediate and powerful social media tool. Expect Twitter results to show up in SERPs within days.
There is an unwritten rule somewhere deep in the universal order of things that says when a search engine tries to use television to advertise its services, that search engine will make a damn fool of itself. That bizarre coordination of chromosomes which makes advertising executives the kind of beasts they are seems to switch from weird to weirder when it comes to planning a campaign for a search engine. Ask Ask.com about that rule, they’ll tell ya how absurd, strange and truly squibby ad-execs get when thinking about how to market a search engine to the general public.
Earlier this year, marketers were excited to learn that Microsoft was going to devote over $100million to push, prompt and otherwise pull people to their new search engine Bing. Already an early darling of the search marketing industry, Bing has been in the forefront of the news lately due in part to the deal with Yahoo and in part to their determination to challenge Google in the search sphere.
This week and next, Bing is likely to end up in the news again, this time for a less compelling reason, unfortunately, a FAR less compelling reason…
Bing has jumped off the cliff of calm, reasonable persuasion and opted for an ad based on a jingle, “Bing Goes the Internetâ€ by Jonathan Mann. Jonathan Mann was winner of a contest held by Bing to select a jingle that best reflects the mission and excellence of Microsoft’s new search engine. Unfortunately, this one turns out to be slightly less sharp than Chicks with Swords… Enjoy…
It has been an intense two days for the staff and show hosts at WebmasterRadio.FM. Somewhere around 6pm Eastern we learned that the MSFT/YHOO rumors we had been hearing all afternoon were in fact true and that a major announcement was to be issued early Thursday morning. A leisurely summer’s afternoon had suddenly turned into a frantic 36-hours of news gathering, phone calls and show planning.
Here is a run-down of WebmasterRadio.FM shows and posts covering the Bing – Yahoo Search deal.
We worked quickly to get a special presentation together and by 9pm, we went live-to-air with a Bing/Yahoo analysis panel made up of Sarah Lacy from BusinessWeek & TechCrunch, Disa Johnson and Jim Hedger, which was moderated by Daron Babin. –> “Microsoft-Yahoo Search Deal Imminent”
Thursday morning, Yahoo and Microsoft CEOs Carol Bartz and Steve Ballmer held a joint press conference at 5:45am Pacific announcing the details of the Microsoft Bing / Yahoo Search deal. After hearing the details, I wrote a blog post, “The Benefits of BingYa!” as a short examination of who in our industry most benefits from the deal.
Thursday afternoon, WebmasterRadio.FM shows Webcology and Office Hours with Vanessa Fox covered the deal.
Webcology (2PM): “The Benefits of BingYa!-The Microsoft Yahoo Search Deal”
Office Hours with Vanessa Fox (3PM): “Yahoo Microsoft Deal Effect on Owners, Developers and SEOs”
To cap our coverage of the Bing – Yahoo thing, the original pioneer of search coverage, Danny Sullivan and Marshall Sponder from the New York Times dedicated nearly 90-minutes to a special edition of Danny’s popular Searchcast on WebmasterRadio.FM –> “Understanding the Microsoft Bing and Yahoo Search Deal”
That’s a lot of coverage in what amounts to a 36-hour period. Special thanks to everyone involved. We will continue following this story as it develops.
Danny Sullivan joins New York Times SEO Expert Marshall Simmonds on a special SearchCast tonight at 7PM Eastern (4PM Pacific) on WebmasterRadio.FM to discuss the Microsoft Bing – Yahoo Search agreement.
Dominated by Google for most of this decade, search advertising is a multi-billion dollar a year business. Google has commanded such an overwhelming share of the search advertising market for so long, Yahoo, Microsoft and others have been unable to present any credible competition and a sense of stagnation in the search marketplace set in.
Microsoft has been trying to strike a deal with a very reluctant Yahoo for over a year. Its attempts to acquire all or part of Yahoo was one of the defining events in tech in 2008. Yesterday’s announcement from Yahoo and Microsoft is the start of what will unarguably become one of the greatest shifts in the history of search.
To better understand the impact of yesterday’s announcement, Join Danny Sullivan and Marshall Simmonds live at 7PM eastern this evening (July 30) on WebmasterRadio.FM for a special episode of SearchCast.
Yesterday’s announcement of a 10-year pact between Microsoft and Yahoo! changed the trajectory of the search engine industry. Where there was no apparent competition in the business of search last week, the alliance between the second and third place search engines has at least laid the foundation for a credible though not necessarily dangerous competitor.
Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft’s new search engine Bing will serve algorithmic search results on Yahoo!’s network. Yahoo! will, in turn, take over the provision of paid search advertising and contextually based ad placement across Microsoft search and web properties. Microsoft will support Yahoo! with revenue guarantees for the next 18-months and Yahoo! cedes all its search technology, including its deep well of patents, to Microsoft.
Though Yahoo! will be taking over the paid search advertising end of the business for both companies, Microsoft’s Ad-Center will be the PPC ad-buying platform, replacing Panama, the platform Yahoo! spent the better part of the last four years building.
Yahoo! will be able to drastically reduce its expenses through employment redundancies and savings from no longer maintaining or improving its search technologies. Microsoft’s Bing gets instantly propelled to the #2 position providing about 1/4 of all search results.
In battlefield terms, Microsoft has managed to ally with a former foe in what can only be described as a mutual defense alliance against a much larger enemy, the equivalent of the Greeks and Visigoths getting it together to fend off advances by the Roman Empire. Microsoft has closed one battlefront in order to focus on the more pressing problem of a much greater one.
At first glance, observers note that had Yahoo! seized a deal offered by Microsoft last year, shareholders and employees would likely have been better served though Yahoo! would have lost total control of its destiny. There are many who might argue that Yahoo! had already lost control of its own destiny, a power pushed away by the combined forces of the markets, two clever competitors and poor planning in the first half of this decade.
Whichever the view, all agree something had to change. The coupling of Microsoft and Yahoo! will create seismic shifts in the various businesses and marketplaces surrounding the search industry. Let’s take a look at the various sectors immediately (or very soon to be) affected by the new-born beast known as BingYa!
The biggest benefactor of the deal, Microsoft has taken the number two spot in its bid to disrupt the juggernaut known as Google. It has also put itself in a position to slowly subsume the search businesses developed and previously funded by Yahoo!. After the introduction of its new search engine Bing in late June, Microsoft needed to find a way to monetize it. While it owned its own ad-serving platform, it had not developed the technology to properly serve contextual paid advertising.
Microsoft spent most of last year trying to purchase Yahoo!. Last year, Microsoft was offering nearly $40billion in total for all of Yahoo!. This year, it got the parts of Yahoo! it wanted, (search), without paying a cent. Financially, Microsoft has guaranteed revenues at Yahoo for the next 18 months.
Microsoft projects about $1billion in extra revenues per year under this agreement.
It is hard to say how badly Yahoo! has fared as a result of this agreement but from where I am sitting, it does not look as good as it could have.
On one hand, the company survives with its name intact and the ability to focus on providing media to what is effectively the world’s largest content network. It also gets to continue selling paid search advertising, the literal golden-goose of search revenues. Yahoo! projects a combination of expanded revenues and cost savings boosting their bottom line by about $700million.
On the other hand, Yahoo! is no longer in the business of providing search results. Yahoo! is no longer an independent search engine. This must be a bitter pill to swallow for the company which was once the brand that represented search with one of the most talented development teams on the Internet. Yahoo! gives up a lot of technology and a decade’s worth of innovation. As Danny Sullivan has noted, Yahoo! suddenly looks a lot like AOL.
It is very hard to say how this impacts Google in the long run. In the short-term, the deal will have no appreciable effect on Google which is by far the most popular and profitable player in the search industry. Google never had to take Yahoo! or Microsoft too seriously in the search-space as it has held an virtually insurmountable lead against its two largest rivals for so long. Google actually made more money in the second quarter of 2009 than Yahoo! made in all of 2008. On the surface, Google’s got nothing to worry about.
In the long-run, a rejuvenated Microsoft poses a couple concerns for Google. One is that Microsoft might actually get its act together on the cloud computing front and in mobile markets. Google is investing a lot of energy and money in developing an operating system and ancillary services for hand held computing devices. Google’s Chrome, Wave and Docs are all geared towards collaborative computing on hand held devices with documents stored on remote servers. That’s the basis of Google’s not-so-secret smash-Microsoft’s markets strategy. Now that Microsoft does not have to concentrate energy on monetizing search, it can throw more resources into its core businesses, operating systems and productivity suites. The deal with Yahoo! gives it a way to further monetize both in the long run.
Barring extraordinary developments, ten years from now Google will likely still be the number one player in the search sector.
Search Engine Optimization Experts (SEO)
Perhaps the sector with the most to gain and the most to lose from this deal, BingYa! has been widely praised within the SEO industry. SEO clients care about Google placements almost to the exclusion of placements on Yahoo! or what was Microsoft Live. I have the sense that SEO clients are as interested in Bing as other Internet users are however Google is where the vast bulk of search referred traffic comes from and therefore Google is front-of-mind for SEOs.
Bing is generally thought highly of within the search marketing community. It is a good engine, perhaps better than Yahoo!’s. It is also fairly easy to optimize for, relying on a number of common signals such as title, text, internal site structure and topical relevance from page to page within a site. Because Google has basically defined SEO technique for the past five years, optimizing for Yahoo! and Microsoft Live was always a second thought. The advent of a two-search engine system might increase the perceived importance of non-Google placements, especially when one considers that the combined reach of Yahoo! and Bing is nearly 30% of the total search market.
Paid Search Engine Marketing Experts (PPC)
The agreement between Yahoo! and Microsoft will have an enormous impact on the PPC business. Yahoo! is the world’s largest content network. Microsoft owns one of the world’s largest content networks. Combined, the two networks are too large to be adequately described. Imagine being able to contextually place advertisements throughout that network?
It is going to take between 18 – 24 months (after regulatory approval) to combine Yahoo! Search Marketing with Microsoft Ad-Center. When the two are merged, Yahoo!’s already developed sales force will use the Ad-Center platform to enable PPC advertising to the biggest passive audience possible. The real question will be, will Internet users actually choose to visit Yahoo! or Bing to conduct searches. Pushing contextual ads to content sites is one thing. Having consumers come to you and pre-qualify themselves before having advertisements pushed across their monitors is quite another.
I suspect the deal will turn out to be very beneficial to the paid search marketing sector and might further popularize contextual online advertising for businesses.
Traditional Media Players
Note to Disney, Time Warner, Sony, Fox and others traditional media makers; re: The Future
That thumping sound you hear is the last nail in your collective coffin being positioned or it’s the sound of consumers dancing on your graves. I’m not sure which because I can’t really hear that thumping myself. I only have your confused and often off-point descriptions and convolutions to judge the noise by and I can’t be sure you have the background to properly describe it in the first place.
Remember Lloyd Braun? He was the guy who worked for Terry Semel when Semel was chief Yahoo in the early part of this decade. He was nicknamed Hollywood Lloyd, in part because of his connections with the movie and music industries and in part because it was his job to collect professionally produced content for Yahoo!’s media network. His Burbank initiatives failed but the set of offices opened for his team remains.
You’re not going to see Lloyd again. He is rumored to be searching for the super-secret poker game Elvis, the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Marvin Gaye have going 24/7 in Bolivia. What you will see is a renewed effort from Yahoo! to capitalize on convergence. Expect it to be their mantra but don’t expect them to want to pay much for your media. It’s not media anymore anyway, it’s content now. Content isn’t worth as much as media once was. Get used to it.
The Yahoo! – Microsoft deal, for traditional media, represents a perfect storm of convergence and the ability to distribute internally monetized content. Where the traditional media businesses controlled distribution and made its wealth on excellence and exclusivity, the Internet allows anyone with access (about 1/4 of the world’s population) to be as excellent as their talent allows. Knowing that both Microsoft and Yahoo! desperately need to expand distribution channels and, knowing that both now have the ability to concentrate on either creating or acquiring those new channels leads me to believe we’re going to see something disruptive on the distribution front in the next half-decade.
End Note: I’m not even thinking about the video game market in this piece. That alone is worth another column and a lot of thought. There’s a number of other areas I’m not actually touching on in this piece. In the future, I want to think about display, real estate, news aggregation, instant messaging, file sharing, social media and a host of other patented tricks owned, operated or in development from Microsoft or Yahoo!.
The mythical beast named Microhoo is no more! A very real one named BingYa! (also known as The Panama Bing Thing) has emerged in a stunning but logical agreement.
A deal has been struck between Yahoo! and Microsoft that, if allowed by Federal regulators, will immediately transform the search and online advertising landscape as we know it.
In the broadest strokes, (the actual deal is to be announced tomorrow), Bing will provide organic search results to the Yahoo! network. This will give Bing a nearly 30% share of search results served while giving Yahoo! a far larger inventory of search results to serve ads against.
Yahoo! will eventually take over Bing’s ad-inventory however that phase could take several years as literally millions of existing relationships, synergies and deals need to first be renewed, renegotiated or in some cases, undone.
Before anything past a major announcement happens, several regulatory hurdles will have to be crossed. This deal has a far better chance of actually happening than Google’s bid for Yahoo! last year did because it creates rather than stifles online advertising competition.
If these are the general broadstrokes of the agreement, a number of questions remain.
An announcement is expected early tomorrow. We’ll bring you full details as they emerge.