Yahoo, Microsoft Complete Bing Search Transfer

Yahoo transferred its backend search to Microsoft's Bing in the United States and Canada, a move designed to strengthen Microsoft in its search-engine battle against Google.

Yahoo's expected transfer of its backend search to Bing is completed, according to a corporate blog posting from Microsoft. Under an agreement signed in the summer of 2009, Yahoo will take over worldwide salesforce duties for both companies' search advertisers, while Bing powers Yahoo's backend search.

"Today I am happy to share that Bing is powering Yahoo's search results in the U.S. and Canada (English only for now, the other languages will come in the weeks and months ahead)," Satya Nadella, senior vice president of Microsoft's Online Services Division, wrote in an Aug. 24 posting on the Bing Community blog. "We continue to work hard on the migration to AdCenter, and are optimistic about completing this phase later this fall."

Microsoft executives had previously expressed hope that the major parts of the agreement, including the porting of Yahoo's U.S. advertisers and publishers onto Microsoft's AdCenter platform, would take place by the end of the year. Users searching on Yahoo will now see a "Powered by Bing" tag on their results pages.

"As we have said all along," Nadella wrote in the blog posting, "our primary goal is to provide advertisers with a quality transition experience in 2010, while being mindful of the holiday season."

On the other side of the equation, Yahoo executives have repeatedly claimed that-despite Bing's handling their backend search-their Web properties will maintain a robust Web presence. Over the past year, Yahoo has introduced new features to its core properties designed to retain and attract users.

In theory, the deal will allow Yahoo to pour resources into areas other than search, while Microsoft gains the market share and user data necessary to make Bing a more substantial competitor to Google. According to analysis firm Experian Hitwise, Bing's U.S. market share hit 9.86 percent in July, lagging behind Yahoo at 14.43 percent and Google at 71.43 percent.

Combining Yahoo's percentage with Bing will allow the latter to approach a 30-percent market share. Beyond that, though, eating more of Google's pie may require some hard work on Microsoft's part; according to one analyst, Bing could be seeing its energy leveling off.

"The search share for Bing remained flat month-over-month at 11 percent, and roughly 60 basis points lower than March levels, indicating that Bing's momentum is perhaps slowing down," Youssef Squali, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in an Aug. 17 research note. "That said, with Yahoo's share added ... Bing should become the de-facto No. 2 search engine after Google."