Following the Microsoft, Yahoo negotiation in the last few months and the eventual Microsoft widthrawal and then the re-started talks a few days ago, it made me think if there is search engine marketing strategy specific to Yahoo and Microsoft, one which could be used to reach Microsoft's and Yahoo's 30.7% share of the Internet searchers.
According to the Comscore March 2008 report the following is the distribution among the 5 major search engines:
- Google: 59.8%
- Yahoo: 21.3%
- Microsoft: 9.4%
- AOL: 4.8%
- Ask: 4.7%
While Google is clearly the leader with a large and growing margin, Yahoo's and Microsoft's combined share is reasonably high (30.7% vs 59.8%) Understandably most search engine marketing talks are about strategies and best practices optimized for Google, but I wonder if there is an opportunity (short or long term) in tapping into the rest of the 30.7% of search engine traffic.
Below is the chart of the search engine referrals sent to the single property websites created through RealBird . This chart is based on the number of actual visitors who arrived to one of the RealBird sites through search engines queries.
By tracing back to the origins of these queries I found some interesting things:
Some content ranks identically good for specific keywords on all 3 engines:
For some searches such as "Luxury Medway Homes", Bill Gasett's RealBird property websites come up at the #1 and #2 positions on all three search engines (see Google, Yahoo, Microsoft) - ( Bill, I hope you don't mind that I use your listing site as an example).
Some content ranks great on a specific search engine and not at all on the others:
To my great surprise I found some very strong keyword referrals from Microsoft: there have been many organic searches for the variations of "homes for sale" with click-through traffic to RealBird property sites and to our experimental listing browsing interface.
Here is a recent one: Somebody from Daly City, CA searched on live.com (Microsoft) today for "California homes for sale" , a very direct and strong keyword combination. Suprisingly, one of our website entry point, the homepage at http://listings.realbird.com is ranked #3 after homes.com and househunt.com on the Microsoft search engine. Way above Trulia, Realtor.com, Zillow or any other major portals. Within 6 clicks, the visitor ended up on one of our client's (David Bergman) website. I included the Clicky screen below showing the user visiting our Mountain View, CA page, then ending up on David Bergman's single property website and finally from there on David's own website.
This is an example of a powerful search term, one that actually delivered real traffic to a real estate agent website from Microsoft. But the same content which made this possible (our RealBird listing browsing interface) does not rank at all on Google and Yahoo for the same keywords. So clearly, through Microsoft and only through Microsoft, did we realize this great search engine referral traffic. It is not just a single incident, we are registering constant stream of traffic from Microsoft to different RealBird sites, through search engine keywords, which does not rank the same content on Google.
This experiment leads to the following questions:
- Clearly, Microsoft has some issues if they rank us above realtor.com or Trulia for strong keywords like "California homes for sale". While we appreciate the real, tangible benefits, I wonder, how long before they adjust?
- Is this a temporary benefit, ie. one which you identify through web analytics and can improve while it lasts, but will eventually level or something you can plan and execute for in advance?
- Is there any known and tested optimization strategy for other search engines than Google or this is, again, just pure luck? If you have any related stats which shows benefits realized from secondary search engines (Microsoft, Yahoo, Ask.com) please share it below. It is surprising to me that there are so much content on the web about Google optimization (59.8% share) and practically nothing about Microsoft and Yahoo (30.2%)
What's your Microsoft/Yahoo strategy?
-- Zoltan Szendro