Preparing to Optimize for BingHoo!

It’s been about a month since Microsoft and Yahoo finalized a deal to consolidate search products. Through this deal, (1) Microsoft’s new search engine Bing will power Yahoo’s search results, (2) self-serve PPC ads will be handled through Microsoft’s Ad Center, and (3) Yahoo will sell “premium search advertiser” services for both companies. And with this deal estimated to be worth 28% of the US search market, it’s one that can’t be ignored by serious marketers.

Granted, optimizing for an entirely new search algorithm is one that takes time, research, and testing. As AdAge reports, there’s good news and bad news. The good news for marketers is that they do have a window of opportunity before Bing results are being served to over a quarter of search users. The bad news is that what marketers learn about and do for Bing today might be obsolete tomorrow.

It will be at least nine months — and probably closer to a year — before Microsoft takes over Yahoo’s search infrastructure, theoretically consolidating 28% of the U.S. search market and mounting the first credible challenge on Google in a decade.

[…] Bing is quite a bit different from Google and Yahoo, both in the way it ranks pages and the way it presents results on the page. And if search becomes more of a two-player market, it could mean a return to the late ’90s, when it was common for marketers to create separate pages optimized for Yahoo, Google, Lycos and AltaVista, and as they do now for the iPhone or other mobile devices.

“You’d effectively have two pages, one for Google and one for Bing,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand.com. If all goes according to plan, Yahoo will make the switch to Bing’s organic search results in the third quarter of next year, and then fold in Bing’s paid search results soon after.
[…]
Fundamentally, Google’s algorithms give more weight to inbound links, while Bing focuses more on the content or the keywords contained on pages. That said, Microsoft is still tweaking Bing, so any strategy formed today might have to change when the integration with Yahoo takes place.

So it seems like search marketing budgets will undergo some changes over the next year while marketers determine how much (1) to divert toward the R&D of a Bing optimization strategy, (2) to subsequently invest in Bing optimization, and (3) of their PPC budget to invest in BingHoo paid search listings.

That being said, there are already a number of tools available to marketers who need to easily compare search results form Google and Bing while they figure out what works where. As Search Engine Journal reports:

1. Google / Bing Comparison searches both Bing and Google or either of them.

The best thing about the tool is that it enables you to click through international versions of both search engines and compare regional results.
[…]
2. Bingle – Bing + Google (as you might have guessed). It allows to see both search engines results side by side and also switch to either of them with one click.
[…]
3. Bing and Google is the simplest of three. All it does is comparing the two search engines side by side.

So while some challenges lie ahead for search marketers, they aren’t exactly insurmountable ones. Yes, there are going to be some growing pains while Bing finalizes its algorithm and marketers finalize their budgets. But in the not-so-long-run, it’s going to mean greater opportunities for search marketers.

As BingHoo rolls out, more competition in the search market is going to lead to more innovation. And this is going to translate into more targeted organic search results and better paid search products. So as the BingHoo dust settles, I wouldn’t be surprised if marketers find themselve able to (1) better target potential customers and (2) manager their PPC budgets more efficiently.

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