As you're probably aware, the plan for the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo that dominated many of the headlines this summer, is for Bing to take over Yahoo search, in terms of algorithmic ranking. Basically, Bing will handle the back-end, while Yahoo will handle the front-end design of the new Yahoo Search. That should be happening next year sometime.
With Bing taking over Yahoo Search, webmasters are going to need to evaluate their need to address their own sites with regards to optimizing for Bing. While optimizing for Bing is generally a good idea anyway, those who see a good deal of traffic from Yahoo Search, are going to want to give this some special attention.

Presumably, it doesn't matter if you rank well in Yahoo now, if you don't rank well in Bing. At least it won't matter when the change comes. If you're ranked number 1 in Yahoo, but you're on the 7th page in Bing, you've got some work to do.

Ranking Number 1 in Bing
iCrossing Search Strategist David Shapiro gave some good advice in a recent blog post. To summarize, he said if Yahoo is driving a significant amount of traffic to your site, you need to determine what keywords you rank well for in Yahoo, but not in Bing, and before next year, you need to work on raising these rankings. He also said you need to determine which Yahoo terms you rank 6-10 for that may return "Quick Tabs".

"With the way Bing displays search results for these queries, ranking 6-10 is significantly less valuable," says Shapiro. "Bing returns the top five results for the primary keyword you entered, then displays the top three results for up to five related terms, providing a list of 20 possible listings for the user to select."

Dave Shapiro "If you currently rank 6-10 for any of these keywords you should work on building links to move up into the top five, and focus on achieving top three results for the terms that Bing has chosen for the Quick Tabs, especially considering these terms are more targeted and likely convert better," he adds.

There are differences between Google and Bing, but Microsoft's stance on SEO isn't all that different than Google's. There are different algorithms at play, but both like quality, relevant links and good content. In fact, if you've optimized for Live Search in the past, you should be happy to know that Bing's not that different from that either.

"There have been no major changes to the MSNBot crawler during the upgrade to Bing," Microsoft says in a Bing white paper (pdf) for webmasters. "However, the Bing team is continuously refining and improving our crawling and indexing abilities. Note that the bot name hasn't changed. It will still show up in the web server access logs as MSNBot."

Do yourself a favor and read that white paper. As Shapiro says, you would also do well to make sure your sites are listed with Bing Webmaster Tools. He also suggests that in some cases, it may be a good idea to increase your paid budget, just to circumvent any lost organic traffic in the transition period.

There is a good chance you are getting a lot more traffic from Google than from Yahoo, so if that's the case, luckily you still have that going for you. In addition, social networks like Twitter and Facebook (not to mention blogs) are driving a lot of traffic to websites as well.


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