There is an interesting discussion going on in our WebProWorld forum about search engine optimization post Microsoft-Yahoo deal. For those unfamiliar with the topic, Microsoft and Yahoo recently gained regulatory approval on a search and advertising deal announced last year, which will see Yahoo using Bing's algorithm in its search results. The discussion is about whether or not this means businesses and webmasters will only have to worry about optimizing for 2 search engines (Google/Bing) rather than 3 (Google, Yahoo, and Bing).
Will you focus your efforts more heavily on Bing? Discuss.
What Bing Coming to Yahoo Means
It's important to note that Microsoft and Yahoo still have plenty of details to work out before anyone knows just how the product of this deal will function. We know that Bing will be used in the back-end of searches on Yahoo, but we don't know what other elements Yahoo will still be incorporating into the search experience. For example, Yahoo said last week that the companies will still be discussing how SearchMonkey and BOSS figure into the mix.
Optimizing for Yahoo is not going to be limited to showing up in Bing's results. That's not to say that showing up in Bing's results won't have its advantages for Yahoo search, but there is a lot more going on at Yahoo than that. The company has been stressing that it is still very much focused on search, and under the deal with Microsoft, Yahoo will still be controlling the user experience at Yahoo.com.
Right now, Yahoo.com has plenty of elements to consider, from news and trending topics, to a whole slew of "applications" that users can customize on their Yahoo homepage. Among these are Facebook and Flickr. If you want to get in front of Yahoo users, it's not limited to Yahoo search results. That said, Yahoo search results also have their own thing going on. Keep an eye on the box that appears under the search box after you enter a query. It contains related queries, and "related concepts". This is one area that could conceivably be independent from Bing (although that remains to be seen at this point). Yahoo is not shy about putting brands in these "related concepts" either. You can find WebProNews in there for a query like "ebusiness news".
The point is, Yahoo has made it clear that it will continue to control the user experience, and that means there should be plenty of areas within Yahoo that are out of Bing's control. This leads me to presume that Yahoo will not be something you'll want to ignore, just because Bing is integrated into it. Remember that at this point, Yahoo controls a much greater percentage of the search market than Bing.
All of that said, you may want to pay closer attention to your Bing rankings if you haven't done so in the past, because while Yahoo will still be Yahoo to its users, the deal also means there will be significantly more eyeballs on what Bing determines to be the most relevant results to searches.
Why Stop at Google, Yahoo, and Bing?
These may be the biggest three search engines in terms of market share in the United States, but there are still plenty of people using others. For one thing, YouTube is number 2. Not Yahoo or Bing. If you are concerned about simply being found where people are searching, you should have a YouTube presence. That of course means having a video strategy, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a huge video budget.
There are still people using Ask as well. In search industry coverage, it often gets overshadowed by the others, but there are still a lot of people using it. In fact, the Ask Network's market share grew by 6% from December to January. Ask.com's market share grew by 1%. A lot of people search with AOL. AOL's search is powered by Google, but it doesn't always return the same results as Google.
Facebook's search market share grew by 13% in that same period of time. You may not think about Facebook for search as much, but people are spending more and more time on Facebook, and it stands to reason that they'll be conducting more and more searches from Facebook. Granted, Facebook's web search feature is powered by Bing, but that's only a piece of the Facebook Search puzzle. If you don't have a Facebook strategy, you may be missing out on a lot more searches. By the way, did you know that Facebook recently passed Yahoo as the 2nd most visited site (just under Google)?
These are just a few examples. People are searching from a lot more places. Rather than just optimizing for Google, Yahoo, and Bing, perhaps you should think about all of the places where your site/business would make sense when a user searches (consider niche sites as well).
Does the Yahoo/Bing deal make optimization easier? Weigh in with your thoughts.