The much anticipated ‘joining of forces’ between Yahoo! and Microsoft is starting to make itself felt in the U.S. as Yahoo! announces that it is testing organic and paid search listings from Microsoft for up to 25% of searches.

Most users will be unaware of where the data is actually coming from as the page layout is not changing but it will be interesting to see if the quality of result is improved – remember that bing is a ‘decision engine’ rather than a search engine.

Subject to a successful trial period, Yahoo! believes that U.S. and Canadian organic and paid search will be fully powered by Microsoft’s platform by  August / September, which is not very far away at all.

What does this mean for search marketers?

In many ways, not very much as bing’s own guidelines for search engine optimisation echo the advice offered by Google. The days of optimising for specific search engines are long, long gone and good, honest / ethical SEO should deliver results across all the major search platforms.

That said, results do vary (see comparison of search results for ‘uk seo agency’ query – similar, but not identical results) and we may need to take more notice of how sites are ranking in bing as its market share grows.

In reality, however, even the combined forces of Yahoo! and bing fall staggeringly short of the market dominance enjoyed by Google and, whilst we welcome the potential of a rival for Google, we are not holding our breath…