Yahoo Stole Google’s Firefox Contract, but Bing Is the Real Winner

Yahoo Stole Google’s Firefox Contract, but Bing Is the Real Winner

How often do you type a search into that little bar on the top of your browser?

For most of us, the answer is “often”—and probably at least once within the past 15 minutes. In the age of instant gratification, users are less and less likely to navigate to a search website, and more likely to use the built-in functionality of their browser.

That means that a contract won by Yahoo this week is a big deal. Under the contract, Yahoo will become the default search engine for Mozilla Firefox in the U.S. starting in December. Firefox is the third-biggest web browser by market share.

This would be a major win for Yahoo under any circumstances, but all the more so since the contract was previously held by Google. In other words, it’s not just a leg up for the search industry’s underdog, but a direct blow to its goliath.

Some important notes on the deal:

  • The contract only covers Firefox’s U.S. users. Russia and parts of Asia have been awarded to other companies, while Europe and much of the rest of the world stays with Google (apparently with no contract).
  • The deal is for only five years. After that, Yahoo will likely face a tough bidding war to keep its hard-won affiliation with Firefox.
  • As always, Firefox users can choose to change the default search engine. In other words, Firefox may come preset to Yahoo but users can permanently change it to Google in about 9 seconds. Firefox hasn’t offered any numbers on how often users do this.

Yahoo Stole Google’s Firefox Contract, but Bing Is the Real Winner  But by far the most important detail of the new contract is who’s serving up the search results. Yahoo may be the name on the tin, but that company no longer provides its own search results. Since a 2009 agreement, Yahoo results actually come from Microsoft. In other words, Bing.

According to figures at comScore, Yahoo handles just over 10% of all “explicit” searches in the U.S. and Microsoft handles over 19%, together totaling nearly a third of the market for Bing. This new contract means that market leader Google will lose searches while Bing gains even more.

That has big implications for SEO practice. On paper, Bing nabs less than a fifth of U.S. searches, but with Yahoo and the new agreement, Bing algorithms could handle 40% or more of the market. That means that businesses can’t just optimize to rank on Google. To the extent that rank factors are different across the different search engines, successful businesses need to pursue an SEO strategy that pleases both Google and Bing, without alienating either one.

Yahoo Stole Google’s Firefox Contract, but Bing Is the Real Winner  We’ll take an in-depth look at how Bing ranks websites in an upcoming post. One thing that will succeed with either search giant, though, is creating high-quality content and fine-tuning everything “under the hood.” If your business is a thought leader in your industry and a go-to resource for consumers, Google and Bing will both move you to the top of their respective search results.

How do you get there? That’s something EverSpark can help with. Get started with a free consultation.