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Successful Algorithmic Transition from Yahoo! to Bing

After spending almost 20 plus months, finally, Yahoo! has completed the algorithmic transition of the backend for its organic search to Bing. This act has been accomplished as part of Yahoo! & Microsoft Search Alliance across desktops and all mobile devices in all over the world (except Korea). Now, Webmasters can start using the Bing Webmaster Tools to make sure that their websites continue to attain high-quality organic search traffic through Bing and Yahoo!. Though web masters are also allowed to use Yahoo! Site Explorer until the organic results related to all markets did not get completely transitioned to the Microsoft Search platform. Moreover, Yahoo! crawlers will continue to crawl your websites so that you can avail the same amazing searching experience.

Often asked to Mr. Kartik Ramakrishnan, the VP of Search Engineering team of Yahoo! about the complexities faced by the engineers while transitioning the algorithms to Bing, he mentioned following few interesting challenges that were dealt by him and his engineering team; he said

  • They had to cut over the web, images and videos search experiences from Yahoo!’s search technology backend to Bing’s algorithmic backend for almost 40-plus markets, across the desktops and mobile devices.
  • He continued that in addition to Yahoo’s owned and operated search experiences also they had to cut over hundreds of their syndication partners in more than 50 markets, while making sure a smooth transition for users of their highly famous Yahoo! Search BOSS service.
  • Again, cutting over to the Bing backend was not simply a matter of technical integration through the Bing API for their team. They worked with Microsoft to ensure that Bing’s algorithmic quality in each of these markets was on par or better than Yahoo!’s quality. Wherever they received quality gaps, they worked collaboratively with the counterparts at Bing to provide data driven assessments of quality gaps to fill the gaps quickly. Only when both teams had established that the quality bar in a market was met, they did the green light the cutover.

  • He said that a very important design principle was to ensure availability of all key user experience elements of the Yahoo! search experience post-cutover. That means that they had to perform an all-inclusive analysis of product features per market, assess which of those would require support from the Bing platform, and which features Yahoo! would have to continue to develop and invest in.
  • According to him, developing a migration path to Bing Webmaster tools for users of Yahoo! Site Explorer, while continuing to support Site Explorer for international users during the transition period proved more challenging.
  • Moreover, they had to confirm that Bing could handle Yahoo’s capacity across multiple global datacenters, including new ones that were brought online to serve the needs of the Search Alliance. Here, the remarkable fact was that all the cutovers went remarkably smoothly and were essentially non-events from an operational perspective is a testament to the thorough job both teams did.
  • For all their major markets, they ran comprehensive bucket tests to compare the Yahoo! search experience going against the Yahoo! and Bing back ends. They also monitored key user experience metrics to ensure that the product experience post cutover would be in betterment of their customers.
  • And lastly, they had to put in place support and customer care processes that ensured user concerns and content issues were handled appropriately between their companies, working through policy differences to assure the exact outcome for all stakeholders.
  • He ended the conversation by praising and thanking his team for the unbeatable job they had performed. “For those of us who have been deeply involved in the algo transition, this has easily been one of the best learning experiences of our professional lives. All the late nights, war room huddles, SeaTac trips and time away from families, all of the technical deep dives, business negotiations, ‘pausing & unpausing’ ;-), have all been worth it. I am extraordinarily privileged to have worked with an exceptional group of people, both within Yahoo! and Microsoft — you all know who you are. Thank you so much for your dedication and commitment to delivering the best possible search experience for our users”.

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