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Understanding Yahoo, Microsoft Search Alliance Changes

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Yahoo and Microsoft announced more details of the coming integration of their two search engines and it appears from various reports out there that many people do not fully understand how the changes are going to play out.

The two had previously given details about some of the paid search changes, but this release goes in to more details about both organic and paid search. So what are they? I will list the major changes, as I see them, below.

Microsoft will provide the results for both paid and organic results for both engines.

The results will be delivered to the respective sites and look like they are still separate but the results as the alliance is fully implemented will all come from Microsoft.

How will that effect SEO?

The big one will be that anyone who has good listings in Yahoo's organic results will see a drop if they are not equally well ranked in Microsoft. Obviously, the reverse is true of people whose sites are ranking well in Microsoft.

So the Alliance is suggesting people start doing prep work for the change and concentrating on improving the rankings in Microsoft/Bing.

How this will effect people's purchasing of listings in Yahoo Directory over the next year should be worth watching. But, they are suggesting offsetting drops by buying more PPC!

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What changes are being made in PPC?

Microsoft PPC ads will populate both engines eventually and the Alliance is pushing accounts at Yahoo to move over to adCenter. But what will this do for the early movers?

  1. AdCenter won't allow you to differentiate between Yahoo and Microsoft paid ads. But if you wait as long as you can then you will still be able to separate the two engines' results. Some of us get better conversions from Yahoo and if you convert over to adCenter early your ads will be shown across both engines and could lower conversion rates.

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  2. Domain blocking will no longer be available for Sponsored Search when you leave Yahoo, though the Alliance is saying it will have this feature soon. Both sites have a limit of 500 domains at the moment so that will not change, but the blocking in adCenter is for search partners listings and not those for the two sites own results.

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  3. adCenter will have the same match types as Google - exact, phrase and broad - something people have always asked Yahoo to adopt. Matching will be at the keyword level and bidding for each can be set at the ad group level.

  4. Campaign targeting will see changes. Apart from slightly different location changes - zip codes will not be immediately available in adCenter - the ability to change bids by demographics will have a major change as seen in the image below.

  5. More excluded keywords will be allowed in adCenter - though exactly when has not been announced.

  6. The number of characters of an ad will decrease in adCenter. The 25 character headline and 70 character body copy will be used. This may be one of the biggest changes PPC people will need to work on for the transition. If this is not changed the ads will be truncated and transitioned as inactive.

  7. Plurals and common misspellings are treated as separate words in adCenter contrary to the canonicalization done by Yahoo PPC.

  8. Bidding minimums will jump under adCenter. Yahoo had a low of 1 cent whereas Microsoft has a low bid of 5 cents.

  9. Budgeting will be slightly different. Yahoo has a daily limit that can be set at the account and campaign level. adCenter offers a monthly limit at the campaign level and an optional daily limit that will not be a hard stop.

  10. Rich ads in search will not be immediately available in adCenter as they are currently in Yahoo.


The timeline for these changes are not absolute but the Alliance does offer some general information in the chart below.

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