Bing and Yahoo Go Bang!

By Melanie Prough on Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Filed Under: Zen Cart News, Zen Cart SEO

Seems like forever ago in Dec. 2009 when Yahoo and Bing announced the details of the previously proposed merger from June 2009, however, we are finally seeing an execution of the planned merge come in to culmination. The proposed division of services between the 2 search giants was reported (below)…. and seems to be pretty accurate as we see things falling in to place.

Microsoft will be the provider of web, video and image results to Yahoo!, and the basic list of results provided will be the same as those displayed on Microsofts Bing engine. Microsoft will provide the search advertising platform (adCenter) that will be used by both companies, and will manage the search advertising marketplace.

This is seemingly an area of huge concern and worthy following for Zen Cart shop owners, or is it? There are many reasons that this merging and removal of services is a game breaker for ecommerce shop owners, including the loss of Yahoo Search Marketing for the less favored Microsoft adCenter, but organically, there seems to be far less impact.

While Google’s market share continues to be strong (66.1% Sept 2010 comScore), one cannot help but wonder how things will change with Microsoft now sitting atop a combined 27.9% market share (Sept 2010 comScore). The once struggling (rightfully so) Bing search is now in a position with the considerable promotional cash invested to make a serious dent in Google’s market share. But what does this mean for your online store?

Yahoo has traditionally been the ecommerce search engine. Yahoo’s demographic market has always been favorable for ecommerce, especially tech and electronics. The issue to watch here is the fact that Bing seems to deliver far less favorable results for ecommerce shopping. It is worth noting that this will likely see a positive change, but not until July 2011 when Bing finishes and officially launches their product search platform.

For example, a snapshot to this under-delivery issue from Bing: I searched for simply “buy iphone 4”. This phrase is clearly indicating my intent to buy, but the result from Bing are not very favorable for merchants, as the entire “top search page real estate”  is sponsored and …. Believe it or not “Videos of buy iphone 4”. Why my clear intent to make a purchase would trigger “Videos of buy iphone 4”, I haven’t a clue, but this poor allocation of page real estate is going to be a painful change for shops ranking well on Yahoo as they transition to Bing’s results. Below I have compared the page real estate results for Bing, Yahoo and Google.

Bing's Search Page Real Estate

Bing's Search Page Real Estate

As you can see above, Bing clearly thinks there is only one place to buy an iPhone worthy of my search, which is a clear intent to buy. If I scroll down I get 2 separate listings for Best Buy, 1 for iPhone 4 and 1 for iPhone 3. But seriously, I searched to “BUY” and iPhone 4, and I am delivered irrelevant information like “News: buy iphone 4” and “Videos of buy iphone 4”, with the only apparent opportunity to make a purchase coming from paid results.

Yahoo Search Page Real Estate

Yahoo Search Page Real Estate

We can see Yahoo providing a much more favorable shopping environment for my clear intent to purchase, but…. for how long really? As Yahoo’s real estate is over 200 pixels less horizontally, this means that the sponsored results are even more dominating. However, this also means the garbage results such as “Buy Iphone 4 – Video Results” are pushed much further down the page. Still the unpaid results where I can actually buy the phone are limited to 3 on the entire page. The rest, ezine articles, videos and Q&A are certainly no help, nor match for my query.

Google Page Real Estate

Google Page Real Estate

We can see that Google has less of a paid results domination, but still some issues. For example, I’ll ask one more time…. If I search for “buy iphone 4”, why would you give me news results? Has not contextual search grown past this type of problem? Does this not create frustration for shoppers? In any case, Google displays shopping results, unpaid ones and has a much better delivery for my search. However, I would rate Google 2cnd, with Yahoo providing the most convertible page for my search query.

While this is certainly no scientific analysis, I pulled 30 day conversion rates for Bing, Yahoo and Google from 20 client’s sites which are all well performing and seasoned websites. The overall best converting was Google, Bing was second at 7.75% less and Yahoo third at 17.3% less. While this should be considered a generalization at best, we can deduce that Google is still our primary organic focus point. I would suspect that Google will remain a focus point until such time as Bing/Yahoo either dramatically change the ranking algorithm or eat up some of Google’s market share.

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