A Flavorful Blend, Yahoo! Organic Search, Now With 25% Bing

And so it begins…

You may have heard that soon Bing will provide all the paid and non-paid search results in Yahoo. Or you may have heard some twisted version of this because the whole thing is so complicated. Personally, I like the Frankenstein imagery. Although it’s kind of cool to think of a Bing biting a Yahoo and the Yahoo becoming a Bing beneath the full moon.

The good thing is we knew this was coming. Yahoo! and Microsoft signed the deal a year ago. In February, the European Commission and US Department of Justice Approved it.

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Yahoo and Bing have also been good about keeping us informed. In fact, this June I attended briefings by Bing and Yahoo at the Search Marketing Advanced expo.

Okay, YaBingHoo! is coming and Portent is on top of it. What you reallly want to know is what this means to you, your web site and your organic search traffic?

The New Yahoo Test Blend Features 25% Bing

Yesterday we learned testing has begun. Up to 25% of organic non-paid results on Yahoo are getting served by Bing. What does this mean? At the end of the transition the search results on Yahoo and Bing will be identical.

What You Need To Do

Don’t Freak Out

The evil Microsoft empire is not coming to get you. Actually, the folks at Bing are very conscientious and friendly. There is no giant eye over Redmond.

Change is coming. Expect to see frequent swings in your statistics. Link counts, indexed pages, rankings and anything else you follow — especially if it is from Yahoo — is likely to swing back and forth several times before the transplant is complete. Unfortunately Yahoo and Bing (and Google and Ask too) cannot know how changes to their search ranking formulas or other services will behave on the Internet. Yes, they do a lot of lab testing, but every seasoned SEO practitioner has seen search engines roll back ranking changes and algorithm updates because they did produce the expected results. The Internet is huge, ever changing and, frankly, bizarre. You cannot bottle it up or make it sit still.

Watch your Bing rankings. The Yahoo rankings are going away soon anyway so you might as well get used to it now and save yourself from pulling out your hair unnecessarily.

Ignore your Yahoo statistics. I know you will look. You cannot help yourself. Just keep in mind that Bing is taking a jackhammer to Yahoo’s framework so don’t freak out when things change or disappear.

How do I SEO for Bing?

Good SEO is still good SEO. Yes there are differences between the Google and Bing ranking algorithms, but they share the same goal — to serve the more relevant, authoritative results. As long as you pursue excellence in your content and on your website instead trying to out-engineer the search engines, you should continue to earn good rankings.

But, you do not have to take it from me. This is what Microsoft says:

All of the benefits from these enhancements are available to websites that invest in SEO. Webmasters can help their websites get more visitor traffic by helping Bing best represent their content to searchers in our SERPs. Webmasters can easily do this by adding unique titles and meta descriptions to each page. If webmasters don’t provide search engines with good, keyword-oriented, well-written caption source data, the resulting captions created by algorithm, no matter how hard we try, won’t represent your website as well as those websites whose webmasters did provide this unique and important data.

The use of consistent data structures between pages on your website (such as placing similar data between pages using a similar tree structure, similar class names, support standard markup technologies, such as microformats, etc.) will also help improve the effectiveness of our crawler, which puts more of your content into our index. Submitting your sitemap to Bing if your website is new, has been substantially changed, or has added any new rich media content, is also very helpful. You can submit your sitemap.xml file via the Sitemap tool in Webmaster Center or directly from your browser’s address bar by typing the following:

Be sure to include the full URL for your website’s sitemap.xml file at the end of this line.

However, there’s no need to resubmit your sitemap to Bing if Live Search previously indexed your website and there have been no recent changes on your website.

Performing SEO for clear and high-quality page content also benefits searchers who will use Document Preview. When the standard captions are shown (derived from good SEO practices of creating unique title and meta description tags, which help Bing improve your rank to relevant keyword phrases) and one of yours piques the searcher’s interest, the searcher can now quickly do a deeper dive by using Document Preview to be sure the content they are seeking is actually available on your website. This benefits webmasters by driving more highly qualified traffic to them, making costly bandwidth usage far more efficient by reducing SERP bounces, and ultimately driving higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Best of all, the type of SEO work and tasks webmasters need to perform to be successful in Bing haven’t changed–all of the skills and knowledge that webmasters have invested in previously applies fully today with Bing. Moreover, investments in solid, reputable SEO work made for Bing will bring similar improvements in your website’s page rank in Google and Yahoo! as well.

Ultimately, SEO is still SEO. Bing doesn’t change that. Bing’s new user interface design simply adds new opportunities to searchers to find what the information they want more quickly and easily, and that benefits webmasters who have taken the time to work on the quality of their content and website design.

The Yahoo Bing deal creates an opportunity. Companies with good Bing rankings stand to benefit nicely from increased exposure on Yahoo. Are your Bing rankings where you want them to be?

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