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July 29, 2009

Yahoo! Microsoft Partnership: In Search of a Strong Suit – SEM Synergy Extras

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Yahoo! and Microsoft announced their long-awaited search partnership today, and the search engine marketing community is all abuzz.

SEM Synergy logo

Today on Bruce Clay, Inc.’s weekly podcast, SEM Synergy, Yahoo!’s Search Submit program was the subject of the show. Of course, in light of the Binghoo development, strategies aimed at search engine optimization for Yahoo! search may be reevaluated.

Editor’s note: Amy’s perspective on how the partnership might affect SSP is included in the update below.

That’s the drawback of recording a show beforehand. If I could re-interview Amy Figliuolo, vice president, sales at search marketing firm Position Technologies and an expert in managing Yahoo! Search Submit campaigns, I’d probably ask a few different questions knowing what I know now.

For instance, does Figliuolo believe the Search Submit program will continue once Bing completely powers Yahoo! search? I’d think a profitable program like Search Submit would be integrated into the newly combined Binghoo search platform.


Update: Following the announcement by Microsoft and Yahoo!, I spoke to Amy Figliuolo to get her thoughts on how Binghoo might affect the Search Submit program. The partnership agreement is still up in the air due to federal regulatory requirements, so any forecasts about the fate of Search Submit is purely speculative.

As a supporter of the advantages offered by Yahoo! Search Submit, Amy hopes to see the program continued in the combined Yahoo!-Bing search platform. She feels that, currently, Search Submit makes search on Yahoo! much more efficient for advertisers in terms of ROI thanks to the flat CPC. Amy consistently receives positive feedback about the performance of SSP, often times hearing that it performs better than paid search not only on Yahoo! but on Google as well.

Another reason why the marketing community may want to see Search Submit incorporated into Yahoo!-Bing search, is the opportunity it affords to marketers with sites in Flash. All-Flash sites have historically had indexing problems, so SSP is extremely valuable in this sense as well.

“I’m obviously biased,” Amy said, “but advertisers really value SSP so hopefully the program will continue to be offered.”


Whatever the case may be in the future, I believe Yahoo! should remain a target for SEO today. The companies’ search consolidation may not be fully implemented until two years after federal regulatory approval. So, search marketers must still consider how Yahoo!’s well-established paid inclusion program might work for them.

Bruce Clay is a firm believer in Search Submit as a way to manage a site’s Yahoo! search listings with control and flexibility while freeing up time to optimize a site for bot crawls. Figliuolo offers great information to help guide marketers to the best Search Submit fit. Despite the potentially game-changing partnership, it’s really not the time to abandon a Yahoo! search strategy — though it would be short-sighted not to consider how the deal will affect SEO and the search industry.

Bing and Yahoo! logo mashup

Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of the search marketing news site Search Engine Land, is conducting a poll, asking participants to answer “yes”, “no” and “don’t know” to the question: Do you think selling search will hurt Yahoo’s prospects of being a major web destination or not?

As of this morning Danny reported that two-thirds of respondents had answered “yes.” But I rather agree with Kevin Newcomb’s assessment that the deal will be good for Yahoo!, Bing, and even searchers.

I mean, why is it that in the marketing world we talk about finding what you’re good at and capitalizing on it, and yet when Yahoo! takes this approach, the plan is blasted as a death knell? Yahoo! has never been all about search. Yahoo! is a media company, a leading news portal, an online service provider and Internet property manager. Search has long played a large role in the company’s media mix, but I leave it up to Yahoo! to decide whether or not pursuing innovation in the search sector is the best strategy for their own future.

Also, who else sees this partnership as the industry’s best shot at a competitor to rival Google? As the process for antitrust approval gets underway, it’s clear that federal officials generally feel that “Competition is typically improved by having more competitors, not fewer.” But when it comes to this David and Goliath story, I think two heads are probably better than one when it comes to the best chance for the underdogs to compete.

I don’t think we should be writing off search’s number two and number three yet. We’ll have to wait to see if the deal will meet regulatory approval. And if they do, I think Yahoo! and Microsoft deserve a chance to show their true combined power. In the never-ending saga of search musical chairs, why designate the Binghoo deal as a death sentence when it could very well be the start of a beautiful marriage?





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