SEO providers across the world have been following the wranglings between Yahoo and Microsoft with interest for what seems like forever. But now Yahoo and Microsoft have finally merged, with the companies reaching a 10-year agreement that sees Microsoft become the back-end provider for Yahoo Search and Search Advertising through their new platform Bing. Yahoo will sell search ads for itself and Microsoft, using Microsoft’s AdCenter platform for both. While Yahoo sites will remain the same in terms of branding and ultimate control, all search results will be powered by Bing.

So what was it that finally pushed the merger through; what made Yahoo act in a way that is seen as anything from inevitable compromise, to capitulation and even suicide, depending on your point of view. The deal may have been going on for some time, but Bing’s success in only two months was undoubtedly a catalyst. When asked whether Bing’s performance was indeed a factor in closing the deal, Yahoo’s Hillary Schneider, in an interview with ‘Search Engine Watch’, commented, “Seeing Bing as a live experience was a nice assurance.”

This merger has benefit for both sides of the table – Yahoo gain from Microsoft’s superior technology while Bing ‘piggy-backs’ Yahoo’s search traffic – but this is also good news for advertisers. Creating what is essentially a number two search engine after Google means advertisers are able to, in Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi’s words, “shift more share of wallet from traditional media and competitors to get the better ROI”.

The transition process from Yahoo to Bing will take months, however, but even then Google is unlikely to be overly concerned by the competition. The gap between them and the newly created number two will still be considerable, but it may make them raise their game just in case. All of this healthy competition can only mean good things for both consumers and advertisers, as the search engines continually strive to improve their search and advertising services in a bid to win market share. Yahoo is dead; long live Bing!