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Natural search in Europe and the UK changes forever today, as the Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance comes into effect, a year behind the US and Canada.
As of today, natural search results delivered at uk.Yahoo.com will begin to be taken from Bing.co.uk's search index. Yahoo will not yet switch any paid ads however, which will continue to be served via from their own Yahoo! Search Marketing for the time being.
Search marketers have known this change has been coming for some time - discussions of a merger between Microsoft and Yahoo! were announced as early as 2006, and the deal was officially approved in February 2010. Natural and paid results for the US and Canada were changed the following August, but users in the UK and Europe have had to wait another year to see the changes to take effect.
Aside from having one less set of natural search results to keep check on, search marketers will likely notice fluctuations to their traffic levels over the coming weeks as a result of these changes. In many cases these will be fairly small, with Yahoo! delivering no more than around 5% of total natural search traffic to the vast majority of sites, compared to 80-90% from Google. Still, this relatively small percentage could account for thousands of visitors in some cases.
Of course, if you're already performing well on Bing, you may find you're in for a boost in traffic over the next few days, but to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone, Yahoo! have released the following advice:
- Compare your organic search rankings on Yahoo! Search and Bing for the keywords that drive your business, help determine any potential impact to your traffic and sales
- Decide if you’d like to modify your paid search campaigns to compensate for any changes in organic referrals that you anticipate
- Review Bing webmaster tools and optimise your website for the Bing crawler, to help ensure your site is prominently listed in both Yahoo! and Bing organic search results.