Finally, after a lengthy gestation period, Microhoo is official! In late July, Microsoft and Yahoo inked a 10-year deal that — if approved — combines the companies’ forces in an internet search alliance to make a concentrated run at Google, recognized by many as the key player in local search.
The deal, which seems to mark the end for Yahoo as an independent search engine, propels Microsoft and its recently unleashed Bing search engine into the No. 2 position behind Google in search technology. Still, Google maintains approximately 65 percent of the U.S. search market, Microsoft and Yahoo 28 percent, according to stats from Hitwise and other measurement agencies.
Now everyone’s asking what this means. For those of us in the local search space, it will have important implications.
Local businesses will need to consider how they can optimize their content for both engines. Many have focused on optimizing their web sites and internet yellow pages listings to ensure they rank as high as possible on Google. If Bing is successful in its efforts to gain market share through this partnership with Yahoo, it will be more important than ever for businesses to ensure they rank high on Bing, too.
Making decisions about where to place internet advertisements and sponsored keywords will become more complicated. Internet advertising tends to be an area where small business owners are most uncomfortable making decisions without expert help. Understanding Google AdWords and other search marketing tools can be difficult for those who don’t have the time or relevant experience. Add Bing into the mix and small businesses will need more support than ever on this front.
Consumers may decide to visit multiple engines before buying. Many articles have noted that Google’s dominance in the search space is due in large part to the fact that it works well. But as searchers give Bing a try, they may find it has features or results that complement or are even preferable to what Google offers. Add into the mix internet yellow pages sites, which are often linked to the search engines or serve as a starting point for local search, and businesses will find it’s more important than ever to be everywhere a consumer is looking.
The bottom line is that the local search space continues to evolve, and competition will mean new opportunities and new challenges. Both Microsoft and Yahoo bring assets to the combined Microhoo. Microsoft has Bing Maps and Bing Local, which defaults to a YellowPages.com-powered directory. Yahoo has Yahoo Maps and Yahoo Local, and there’s also a Yahoo Yellow Pages. Yahoo and Microsoft also operate independent databases for small and local business listings: the Bing Local Listings Center and the Yahoo Local Listings Center. And both companies offer local search.
Now, Bing has the opportunity to evolve much more quickly. Bing’s search market share will grow exponentially with the addition of Yahoo search—certainly much faster than it would from organic growth.
Of course, Microhoo has a long, long, long way to go. And Microhoo certainly is in for heated competition as Google now sets its sights on the new No. 2 search player. All of us in the yellow pages industry are working hard to stay on top of these changes as well to help our small businesses customers.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.