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How to Survive the New Search (Near-)Monopoly

In late 2010, two of the three major search engines, Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing, merged into one. Both search engines still exist independently – that is, you can still go to either one to type in a search – but the same search formula, or algorithm, will be used by both engines to come up with both organic and paid search results.

This is of course an interesting development, because together Bing and Yahoo! have the potential to present a real challenge to Google’s dominance in the search industry. Before the merger, Google had 65.7% of the search engine market share, Yahoo! had 17.3%, and Bing had 10.7%. Combined, though, Bing and Yahoo! have close to 30% of the search market, which makes them much more of a force to be reckoned with.

In some ways, the merger is good news for businesses that advertise on the search engines, because online advertising may become more cost-effective as a result of it. The most obvious and immediate benefit is in administrative savings. Instead of having to manage three separate accounts for each of the three search engines, online advertisers now only have to manage two accounts – a 33% reduction in administrative time.

There are other advantages to the Bing/Yahoo! merger as well. Now, instead of competing, the two search engines will be able to cooperate to create new search algorithms that will make searches better, faster, and more user-friendly. In turn, this will likely spur Google to innovate as well.

All this innovation will be aimed at one goal: to provide people with the precise information they’re searching for, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Of course, search efficiency is helpful to consumers and information-seekers, because it saves time and hassle. But it’s also vital for businesses that advertise online. The more a search engine is able to give searchers what they want immediately, the more – and the more qualified – leads that engine will deliver. Plus, fewer unqualified leads will see paid search ads, so fewer people will click on paid ads without buying, making for better ROI on paid search.

On the downside, though, with only two major players in the search market, we’re getting close to a monopoly. There’s a possibility that we’ll see an increase in paid search advertising rates as a result. Even more importantly, the near-monopoly means that there’s no room for error in constructing online advertising campaigns. There are now only two channels for reaching online consumers, and if you don’t understand the algorithms for both search engines – and how they differ from one another – you may lose the opportunity to reach a significant percentage of potential customers. Therefore, while administrative overhead may be reduced thanks to the merger, online marketers will need to invest the extra time in constructing maximally effective online campaigns.

What’s the bottom line? We believe that online marketing expertise is more important than ever. Expertise is required to maximize organic results so that your company is less vulnerable to increases in paid search rates. Expertise is also crucial for making sure that you have a dominant presence in both search engines.

iMarket’s strategy and expertise will make sure that you’re well-positioned to succeed in the post-merger search environment. Our focus has always been on maximizing ROI by maximizing organic search performance in all major search engines – and our online marketing team has years of experience working with those search engines. We’re confident that our clients’ websites will continue to out-perform the competition.

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