The Microsoft and Yahoo deal announced last week is going to take at least 18 months to come to fruition and will result in a combined UK share of Yahoo/Bing search traffic at about 8%, so will it change your online marketing plans?
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Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz explains the deal: “We have two giants (Yahoo and Microsoft) who are willing to go at it with each other and spend a lot of money. In essence, we can get virtually all of our search revenue at no cost because Microsoft wants to make the investment and wants to win. That just frees me up to invest in a better portal, better display, better advertising. We have to be realistic, it’s nice to say you want to do everything. All of us in the economic times have learned focus is more important than spreading the wealth around.”
If you run PPC (pay per click) campaigns, the main question may be whether ‘BingHoo’ traffic is going to convert to extra clicks and whether it is worth your time administering two campaigns across separate platforms.
Microsoft has tried to make its platform interoperable with Google. Its account mangers will even offer to port your Google account across for no charge, but with such a troublesome past it's hard to turn around such a negative brand perception.
Its widely understood that PPC return on investment from Bing and Yahoo combined is marginally better than Goolge’s. But offset this ROI against weak traffic volumes and challenges associated with optimising separate accounts, if you are anything other than a big PPC spender, you end up with a neutral to negative case for marketing spend on ‘BingHoo’.
The bottom line is 8% volume may not be enough for the majority of UK advertisers to shift their efforts exclusively from Google PPC, even with easier campaign management.
From an search engine optimisation perspective, Bing is loved by aggressive SEO’ers who use spammy links and heavy on site manipulation to rank well.
The consequence is a poor search index which typically only naive users will want to use. As a result, Bing will have to step up it’s search game and will probably end up ranking on ‘signals’ similar to Google’s. What may end up meaning what's good for Bing could be good for Google.
However, it is unlikely the Bing algorithm will change dramatically in the next 18 months, so you can go ahead and rank on Bing but destroy your Google rankings. Or you can have a partitioned approach, ranking one site on Google and another on Bing, but ROI on this approach is questionable.
If reality does not match hype then why so much noise about this deal? In the US, Yahoo and Bing collectively have 21% of the search market. By combining resources they hope to slow down Google’s steady march to total domination.
The catch is that ‘BingHoo’ is no where near such a ‘popularity tipping point’ in the UK and may never be so. For UK search marketers I believe that means its business as usual with Google.
Nick Garner is an SEO and Social Media manager for Betfair
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