Yahoo & Bing Join Forces: What it means for SEO

This week has seen the announcement by Yahoo and Microsoft that their worldwide deal involving the sharing of search results has been rolled out in Australia.

For those who haven’t heard, Yahoo and Microsoft agreed last year to a deal whereby Microsoft’s Bing search engine algorithm would power the organic results in Yahoo; and Yahoo’s Search Marketing software would supply paid listings in Bing.

What this means is that, in theory at least, the results in Bing and Yahoo will be identical.

However, I suspect that this won’t be the case in reality.

For one, paid search advertisers may choose not to advertise on one or the other, or have different sets of keywords in different engines, meaning the paid listings will vary.

Why would they do this? Mainly because the demographic makeup of users on the two search engines vary, and so advertisers who know that their target market is more aligned with Bing’s userbase will only advertise there.

However, this difference in demographic usage is also the reason why the two search engines probably won’t spit out the same organic search results.

The deal between Yahoo and Microsoft will see Bing’s search algorithm used on both engines. However, search engine algorithms are made up of thousands of individual factors and one of these is the actual search and click patterns of its users.

Eg: If, for a given keyword, a search engine discovers that the listing at number 3 is proving more popular (i.e. getting clicked on more) than those higher up, it will adjust its search results to reflect this.

Given that different demographics will have different interests and tastes, it holds to reason that the website that attracts them the most in a given list may not be the same one.

Based on that, results in either Bing or Yahoo may start to vary (because of the underlying algorithm) if users of one of those engines are preferring certain sites.

What this means is that you may still see very different sets of results in Bing and Yahoo (and the disparity will probably grow larger over time).