4 Basic Optimization Tips to help you survive the BingHoo Migration

Now that the Yahoo/Bing Migration is complete you may be wondering how to best optimize this combined marketplace. My suggestion is to wipe the slate clean and treat the Bing/Yahoo migration like a brand new search engine. That way you won’t let your prior knowledge of Bing or Yahoo sway your judgment on this new combined traffic source.

To help you get started I’ve provided 4 basic optimization tips that will enable you to keep the wheels moving while you figure out this new landscape.

  1. Test now, benchmark later: Consider the new Yahoo/Bing marketplace as the wild, wild west and anything goes. As with any major change in the search landscape, advertisers start off by reacting emotionally, which makes it hard to benchmark performance. I predict some will crank up CPCs to ensure they are in top position, and don’t lose traffic volume. In contrast, some passive advertisers may just bid on branded terms until the marketplace becomes less volatile. In addition, since the holiday shopping season has been in full swing, traffic patterns are abnormal. What you should do is follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and explore this new uncharted region. Test an array of tactics to get the feel of performance, such as aggressive bidding, content match, or expanding your long tail terms. Do this all while closely monitoring performance. If you notice that one of your tests are not performing well, then back off or try a different approach. Whatever you do, this is not the time to be timid. The new Yahoo/Bing combined marketplace represents 33% of the US search market place; therefore, you don’t want to miss out on a chance to be a pioneer in this new marketplace.
  2. Benchmark and set expectations in Q1 2011: As I mentioned above, the landscape is too volatile to get a good understanding right now.  As advertisers are making emotional reactions to the change in landscape and cranking up bids to ensure they are in top position expect that this will create an initial rise in CPCs. This should start to normalize in Q1 after the holiday seasonality subsides. When you do start to benchmark, although it may seems obvious, I would recommend just picking a few metrics to look at, that way you don’t waste time analyzing the data. I suggest picking metrics that will allow you to have greatest amount of actionable insights into your SEM program, such as CPCs, Click Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate, or CPA.
  3. Adjust campaign settings to block traffic from syndicated search partners: The AdCenter UI gives you the ability to choose whether to have your ads displayed on the Bing/Yahoo core search network, Bing/Yahoo syndicated partners, or all of the above. Traffic from syndicated partners has been known to have higher CPCs, and lower performance. I would recommend starting with just the core search traffic at first so you can establish a baseline and understand the new landscape. Once you have a handle of how your campaigns perform in this new environment, then gradually open it up to the syndicated partners.  (NOTE:  If you need assistance on adjusting your targeting settings the PPC Blog has a good tutorial on how to target core Bing and Yahoo core search networks.  )
  4. Utilize your web analytics to measure performance by search engine: One of the disadvantages of the Bing/Yahoo migration is that you are unable to monitor the performance of users on Bing and Yahoo independently from one another. We all know that users behave differently on each search engine, and it is important to review performance and the site level. Despite having this setback, your web analytics tool will be the best resource to understand how traffic from each search engine is performing. The best way to get this information is to review performance by referrer domain. This allows you to analyze how the traffic from each search engine is performing once it gets to the site. Also, depending on how your analytics is configured, you will be able to view the queries broken down by search engine.

Bonus Tip:

Create duplicate campaigns with different targeting settings
: Despite not having the ability to manage bids of Yahoo and Bing independently you do have the ability to segment your traffic.

You have 3 options -

  1. all traffic (Yahoo/Bing and syndicated search partners),
  2. syndicated partners only, or
  3. Yahoo/Bing only.

To have greater control of performance, I would recommend creating a duplicate campaign with campaign settings that include only syndicated partners for one, and only Yahoo/Bing for the other.  I know it’s double the work, but it will enable you to fine tune your bid and budget settings to ensure that you are receiving the most optimal performance.

If you consider the Bing/Yahoo migration as new media source and apply some basic SEM best practices you will be able to easily ride the BingHoo wave and stay ahead of you competitors.

Finally remember that not all campaigns are created equal, so if you are feeling concerns about performance, then test it out on a few campaigns before rolling it out globally. I’m interested in seeing how the migrations affects everyone, so please leave any observations that you experience and/or any tips in the comments below.