Channel K

The Yahoo – Bing Partnership and its Implications for SEO

The potential impact on your site’s search engine traffic largely depends on any ranking discrepancy between Yahoo and Bing.

Yahoo announced this week that Microsoft’s Bing now powers all of its U.S. and Canadian organic (non-paid) search results. The Bing engine will now account for 28 percent of searches, compared to Google’s 62 percent.

For businesses actively optimizing their sites for search engines, this merger has some implications. First and foremost, the “big three” are now the “big two.” Any time previously spent submitting to Yahoo, poring over Yahoo search engine results pages, reporting rankings, etc. is now time you can devote to other pursuits. Companies that previously optimized only for Google may now find it worth their while to expand their SEO horizons after the consolidation.

The potential impact on your site’s search engine traffic largely depends on any ranking discrepancy between Yahoo and Bing. If your business was ranking well on Bing before and struggling on Yahoo, the Bing takeover is good news and should yield additional traffic. If the opposite is true or Bing isn’t crawling your website, it’s time to make Bing a priority. If you haven’t already, head over to the Bing Toolbox for webmasters to confirm that your site is being indexed and submit your site’s XML sitemap.

To measure the effect of this transition on your site’s traffic, head over to Google Analytics and drill down to Traffic Sources >> Search Engines. Click Yahoo in the table of results. If you’re running Yahoo pay-per-click campaigns, be sure to click the “non-paid” link as well. You can create an annotation for August 24, 2010 by clicking the value for that date then selecting “create new annotation.” Call it “Bing transition complete.” Change the graph settings to weekly or monthly to display a trend by clicking the second or third icon above and to the right of the graph. Finally, add the report to your dashboard for easy reference, or schedule it for automatic delivery weekly, monthly or quarterly to keep an eye on how the transition is affecting your Yahoo traffic. In addition to the number of visits referred by Yahoo, we recommend tracking the number of distinct keyword phrases (the number of rows in the report) to monitor how well Bing indexes your site for less common “long tail” terms. For more common, competitive keyword phrases, tools like the Rank Checker plug-in for Firefox can expedite ranking reporting.