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How The Microsoft and Yahoo! Deal May Affect SEO

If you have not already heard the news, you will undoubtedly be reading about it on many a blog and online article feature for months to come. The Microsoft and Yahoo! deal could quite easily be the most prolific event in the search industry in 2009. The news has spread through the search industry like a tidal wave, with all the top analysts and search engine optimisation gurus posting their thoughts on the implications of this merger.

At the moment, it is difficult to say whether the outcome of this deal will be positive or negative. Currently, shareholders are not too happy, with both Microsoft and Yahoo posting losses in trading on 31 July 2009, just a couple of days after the deal was announced.

Search Engine Placement and SEO

A Few Facts About The Deal

–    The terms of the agreement is 10 years but it will take roughly 2 years to fully implement
–    Yahoo! is going to lease its search technology to Microsoft
–    So Yahoo! will still have search but it will be provided by Microsoft much in the same way that Google powers AOL
–    Microsoft’s paid search platform will also power Yahoo! sites
–    There is a general consensus that Yahoo! got taken to the cleaners because Microsoft has not paid any money upfront for the deal
–    Yahoo! will continue to syndicate its existing search affiliate partnerships
–    Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business and sales force

The fact is the deal is incredibly complex and from a regulatory and logistical perspective it promises to be a nightmare. It is actually difficult to find a complete story on the deal because not everything has been officially answered. There will no doubt be a significant number of unanswered questions for a long time as separate groups, from developers to SEOs are affected by this deal.

How is SEO Affected?

Again, the effects will be widely felt and will continue to occur until all the details of this deal have been implemented, which will take some time.

However, one of the greatest concerns for the SEO world is the fact that Site Explorer may no longer be available in the long term. This tool offered by Yahoo! is one of the most reliable tools for competitive backlink research. It is also free, making it widely available. Yahoo! will not able to maintain Site Explorer without a search index of their own and given they are leasing theirs to Microsoft, this may be a problem.

Whether Microsoft will make this tool available is another question which does not look promising, given they removed the ability to query their index for link data in 2007.

So the unknowns are many! What is clear is that from an SEO perspective, Microsoft’s Bing has suddenly become more important in the search picture. Perhaps it is time to review those ‘Bing’ rankings!