A new study on users’ search engine preferences  from Keynote found that MSN and Yahoo! have gained favor with users since Spring 2004:
Indeed, the latest survey determined that 81% of Yahoo! users and 61% of MSN users say they would go back to those sites in the future. In May, 72% of Yahoo! users and just 55% of MSN users said the same. Dr. Bonny Brown, Keynote Director of Research and Public Services, notes, “MSN’s recent separation of sponsored results from actual Web results greatly improved user perceptions of MSN search results. This move has increased the loyalty of MSN users and improved perceptions of advertising and sponsored results on the MSN site.”
Although Google is still the favorite, MSN and Yahoo! are catching up. For those who equate natural search optimization with Google optimization: stop. It’s time to take MSN and Yahoo! seriously. Very seriously. They are distinctly different engines; different marketing channels really.
As distinct channels, astute marketers will execute different strategies and tactics for each engine. By that I don’t mean engine-specific doorway pages. I mean things like developing different ‘use cases’ based on the unique user profiles of MSN users, versus Yahoo! users, versus Google users. And then developing unique keyword portfolios, unique landing pages with unique offers, etc.