Click here to see the first part of my interview with SEOmoz’s Rand Fishkin – Affiliate SEO
Big news with Microsoft Bing and Yahoo’s new search deal. What does that change from an SEO perspective both in the short term and the long term ramifications of this deal? Do you think this new combo has a genuine shot of taking significant market share from Google?
I'll answer the second part first, and I will say no, they don't have a good chance of taking market share away from Google, significant market share anyway. I think they have a small chance of taking a small amount of market share. So I think it is possible that rather than seeing in the US, I mean in New Zealand, what, it's ridiculous?
Yeah it's like 99% Google market share.
Right. Yeah in the US it's like, ComScore reports something like 65%. But I actually trust numbers like referrals to all sites that have Statcounter on them, or all sites that Enquisite analytics platform, and those numbers are more like 80 to 85% of all search traffic - exiting, or rather sent from Google. I think Microsoft and Yahoo do a good job of getting lots of queries. But remember Microsoft has a network of thousands of sites, Yahoo has a network of tens of thousands of different sorts of sites and visions and those kinds of things. All the site searches performed inside Yahoo and all those performed inside Microsoft count back towards it. Google having no content, the only thing they every do is websearch, so therefore you see that skew in what ComScore reports or what Hitalyzer reports. I think Google could be reduced from like 85% to like 75%, and you could see Microsoft, basically Bing taking over 25%.
I don't think they'll get more than that. I don't think they have the ability to do it. Until or unless they are willing do with Bing what they did with Xbox.
So Microsoft had, you know, the game market was well established - Sony competing head to head with Nintendo and other players like Neo Geo coming in and this kind of thing and how is Microsoft going to win this? They didn't know the first thing about it, you know, they weren't in this field. So what they did with XBox is they made it a startup. They didn't even put it on Microsoft campus, they made it a different team of people who were only reporting to Xbox people, they basically built a separate company. The fact that it was owned by Microsoft just means that they get the benefits of the cash and the relationships. That's extremely powerful. The fact that they're unwilling to do this with search tells me they're not serious about it. Right? So you might hear like Steve Balmer and other executives from Microsoft say like "search is very important to us, we're really serious about it". I think it's like "serious to them" and I'm using air quotes here, like serious to them in the same way that Google says "competing with Microsoft Office is serious to us". It's just sort of like, "Oh yeah?! You're going to fight us there, well we're going to fight you on this front!" Like, serious my ass. I just don't see it.
If they do serious and spin it out, I'll be interested - I'll be very interested if it becomes it's own startup if it becomes like it's own XBox, that kind of thing, that could be exciting - that could be interesting. Xbox is a great platform, a great brand and a great company, and the fact that it's Microsoft affiliated is, you know...
People never say "Microsoft Xbox" they just say Xbox...
They just say Xbox, right. I think about the same thing about something like Expedia. Built completely inside Microsoft, and then spun out when they recognized an opportunity. In my mind it's a little strange the same thing hasn't happened with search.
So how bout from an SEO perspective?
Yeah, so I would say the one thing that it changes is that you will see a lot more advertisers be like, "well it's only two platforms, fine, I'll invest in Google Adwords and I'll do Microsoft Adcenter, cause then I can get 100% of the market in the US, instead of 80-85%". Right? That 15% is still worth something to people, even though it's very small. And I think to the degree that Adcenter can reduce complexity you'll see a lot more advertising in there. This also means the same thing in the SEO world, you know, we're all going to pay more attention to Bing. Chances are most of the webmasters in US that care significantly about search traffic are going to join Bing webmaster tools and verify their sitemaps with them - that sort of thing. I don't know. Unless, their market share slips further. So say the Yahoo deal takes a year to integrate, or 18 months, and by that time the market share is under 10% for both of them combined, what's the point? No one's going to care, no one's going to do it, it's going to be largely useless.
I'm not sure that's going to happen. I'm not sure people think about Yahoo as search, I think simply because Yahoo is the most popular page on the internet - the most popular home page on the internet and one of the most popular pages over all. And their destinations are so powerful and popular, I think people are going to continue using them for search, just because the box is there, right?
Doing something else, they do a search 'cause it's right there.
Yeah it's right there. And you know you're relatively use to Yahoo giving you relatively good results.
I do think that Bing is going to be remarkably easier to spam for a long time. Yahoo actually has more spam controls than Bing does, but I think Bing's going to end up being the engine and Yahoo's going to wrap into that. So hopefully they'll be able to attract some good engineers from Yahoo. Google is by far the market leader on that front. They just spend so much time and energy thinking about spam and fixing spam and doing quality control and those kinds of things.
They're years ahead aren't they?
Yeah they're probably two to three years ahead and have been consistently for a long time. I don't know, maybe we'll see Bing catch up but there's also this attitude thing at Bing. The sense I get there is they're less worried about spam, or rather they're less worried about manipulative activities that still produce good results. Google is very worried, not only about whether you're relevant, but how you got to be there. Microsoft is a little more like, you know, if you're serving a good page - Someone asked for Nike tennis shoes and you got Nike tennis shoes and you're selling them, you're a good site. I don't care that you brought a bunch of directory links to get there, right? So there's a little less of that. So I think that's interesting. It will mean that more aggressive tactics and sort of smaller sites and brands have a bigger opportunity with Bing. I think the question will remain, like Microsoft will continue to do quality control iterations to see whether showing those types of results and letting those people who might have been more manipulative in the ways that they garnered those rankings provides a positive a user experience.
Check out the next part of the interview here: Link Building Strategies
Rand Fishkin is the founder of SEOmoz - an SEO consultancy and training site. I highly recommend them as one of the best SEO resources on the web.