According to their announcement today, Microsoft will become the default search engine for Yahoo, which I’ve been a proponent of for a long time. Getting Microsoft’s results to the Yahoo audience is a win for all. Yahoo started out as a directory and they’ve had a hard time shaking that from their culture. Over the last few years, their algorithm has fallen farther behind and their ‘human decisions are better anyway’ thinking has shown through via their hand modifying of search results and greater percentage penetration of SSP listings into (what used to be) organic SERPs. Microsoft has been working hard over the last two years to make their search results relevance competitive with Google’s. With some variation in actual results, I would say that Microsoft has been fairly successful.
I think the biggest question of all is the future for SSP (Paid Inclusion). Is Yahoo going to use the Microsoft results as they do their own organic results and merge them with SSP listings? Or, are they going to completely replace Yahoo search with Bing results and eliminate the SSP program?
If it is up to Microsoft, I sincerely doubt that they will want to skew their results, and damage the reputation of their results, by integrating questionable paid inclusion listings. If SSP is retired, this can be a huge boost in traffic for web sites that are currently having their SERPs pushed out of rankings by the integrated paid inclusion listings.
For people involved with SEO, removal of SSP would open up more possibilities for optimization focusing specifically on Binghoo’s 30%. Where battling SSP listings for position and Microsoft’s 6-7% wasn’t worth the focused effort, a 30% share of search volume certainly would be.
Competition is always important to drive quality of any product or service. Having a serious competitor for Google in the search world is great for all searchers.