By Sam Hollingsworth
Never a dull moment in the search business.
The pre-holiday Fourth of July headlines not only brought news that Bing will begin powering AOL search in 2016, but that Yahoo is testing the use of Google Search results—as well as those of other search engines—within Yahoo Search.
Aaron Wall of SEO Book noticed the Yahoo SERPs advertising paid-search results powered by Bing in some browsers, and paid-search results powered by Google is other browsers, he wrote a blog post about it. Quipped Wall: “A cynic might question how much actual choice there is if on many searches the logo is different but the underlying ads & organic results are powered by Google, and an ex-Google executive runs Yahoo!.”
Meanwhile, Search Engine Land got confirmation from Yahoo on July 1 that it is testing Google Search results for both paid and organic search results.
Yahoo had previously used Bing to power its search results until it amended its negotiation with Microsoft in April 2015 to allow new search partners to work with Yahoo. According to Yahoo, it is working with search engines other than Bing and conducting “small tests.”
“As we work to create the absolute best experiences for Yahoo users, from time to time, we run small tests with a variety of partners including search providers. There is nothing further to share at this time,” a company spokeswoman said this week.
Google showed interest in a search relationship with Yahoo in the past, but it didn’t happen after the U.S. Justice Department threatened antitrust action against the companies in 2008. Since then, Yahoo has used Bing to power its search engine.
Yahoo is willing to try—or or “test”—anything it can to save its search engine, including powering its own search results with Google. This isn’t new for Yahoo: Google wanted to partner with Yahoo in 2008 but it hasn’t been able to do so until now.
Yahoo said when the new deal was reached that it allows the brand “to move ahead in a more positive yet competitive manner” with Bing/Microsoft, and also gives Yahoo more control of its own search engine.
We’ve already been primarily focused on Google (results, algorithm updates, best practices, etc.), at least domestically, and this gives us even more of a focus on Google considering it could be composing the Yahoo SERPs. We will also see more differences in search rankings across the three major search engines if this trend continues past a “testing” phase, rather than seeing nearly identical search results for Yahoo and Bing.
While 51% of desktop ads need to be powered by Bing through the new agreement, mobile (smartphone and tablet) traffic is still fair game for Yahoo to use whatever ads it chooses. This has allowed Yahoo’s Gemini and new search partners to power up to 49% of desktop ads and potentially all of mobile ads.
Sam Hollingsworth is an SEO Manager at Acronym with an emphasis on Content Marketing and Social Media. Originally from Upstate New York, he now resides in Manhattan and enjoys watching his New York Rangers and New York Knicks just a few of blocks away from work at the Empire State Building. You may also find Sam watching horse racing at Belmont Park or Aqueduct Racetrack throughout the year, or at Saratoga Race course near his hometown in Saratoga Springs during summer. Sam can be reached via Twitter at @SearchMasterGen