To Bing or Not To Bing?
Sometime next year, Microsoft will fulfill a planned integration to power Yahoo's search results with Microsoft's Bing Engine. The move will effectively consolidate 28% of the US search market, giving both companies a platform upon which to seriously battle Google.
As we get closer to this integration we're all faced with a new challenge:
How do you bring your sites and brands to the top five organic search results on both Bing and Google.
And according to Advertising Age, "figuring that out is going to amount to a mini stimulus package for digital agencies and search-engine-optimization consultants in the first half of 2010."
Bing is a wholly different animal from Google and ex-rival Yahoo. Bing's algorithm, both ranks pages and presents results in its own unique way. For example, it often shows just five organic results on its first page — after which other results are categorized.
Its potential to split the market in two reminds me of the early days of search, when separate optimized pages were created for Google, Yahoo, Lycos and AltaVista. This pretty much leaves us with creating pages and site structures optimized for two different search engines.
This is not an impossible task but it certainly splits resources, makes your SEO and Internet Marketing Strategy more complex and given the age of Bing could shift wildly as they refine/update/change their algorithm.
Bing also offers separate placement for photos and video, meaning we can take advantage of these forms of rich media and saturate the user experience even further with our chosen brands.
As it stands, however, Bing is still working on improving its algorithm, and any strategies that seem solid today may be less effective following the Yahoo integration. You might want to consider phasing in a content strategy around Bing so that adaptations and changes can be made in response to Algorithmic updates to that search engine.
One thing is (nearly) for certain: PageRank lends more leverage to inbound links, while Bing hones in on content or keywords in the pages.
Also consider the potential that both sites will eventually incorporate real-time search, such as relevant Twitter or Facebook updates. This would be the next step in Google's "Universal Search" philosophy of integrating their niche engines into the global search results (showing Images, Video, News and Blog Updates in the main Google Search Results).
One possible benefit of this change in the search engine landscape: with one major player out of the field there is the possiblity to capture (nearly) 100% of search traffic if you dominate both Bing and Google for your chosen Search Terms.
As always these are turbulent times in the world of Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization - the key to maintaining and leveraging search engines is constantly adapting your strategy to remain on the leading edge of Search Engine algorithms. But at the end of the day this simple fact makes sense since the search engines are adapting to what people are looking for, those people are your potential customers.