After all the rumors and last-minute botched deals over the years, it's finally happened: Microsoft and Yahoo have reached an agreement to merge their search services in hopes of finally being able to compete with the grand search overlord, Google.

Under the new 10-year, $275 million agreement, Microsoft's new Bing search engine will power Yahoo Search, while Yahoo Search Marketing will be powered by Microsoft AdCenter.

So what does this mean for small-business owners? Well, keep an eye on your Yahoo rankings because they are going to change once the Yahoo search engine is replaced by Bing.

As for your Yahoo Search Marketing campaigns, the good news is that your ads will now be seen across a greater number of websites. If you've been running campaigns through Microsoft AdCenter and Yahoo Search Marketing, once the change takes effect you will only have one campaign to manage, which will free up your time to work on other search marketing strategies.

If you've never bothered with Microsoft's search offerings, the best way to get ready for the coming changes is to learn how to optimize your site for Bing and become familiar with the rules and regulations of Microsoft AdCenter.

Since its launch, Bing has proven itself to be very amenable to webmasters' optimization efforts. That means that with a little tweaking you can get your site listed at the top of Bing's search results quickly. And if your site is brand-new, you can probably get it indexed faster on Bing than on Google, so you might want to focus your optimization on Bing first. Then, once you're ranked well in Bing's listings, you can tweak your optimization efforts to meet Google's more stringent requirements.

Here are five easy ways to get Bing to notice you:

1. The older, the better . Bing places a lot of emphasis on the age of a domain, so if you're just starting out, you might consider buying an older domain in order to get your site a higher ranking.

2. Titles are important. Bing seems to place a lot more emphasis on title tags than Google does, so make sure you use your best keywords in the title tags of every page on your site.

3. Text is terrific. For Google, the amount of text you have on a web page doesn't play a huge role. Not so with Bing, which seems to place a higher value on pages that have at least 300 words.

4. Outbound links are OK. Google has always seemed to frown on the number of outbound links you have on a page. But Bing actually seems to like them--at least for now.

5. Backlinks are even better. If you're frustrated because all of your efforts to get links pointing to your site haven't gotten you anywhere with Google, then good news! When it comes to backlinks, Bing's attitude seems to "the more, the merrier"--as long as the links are coming from relevant sites.

So there you have it--five easy optimization tips to help you score a good ranking with Bing.Bear in mind that this is a huge change, and will take months to fully take effect. But the sooner you align yourself with Microsoft's search policies, the better positioned you will be to ride the wave of change to the top of Bing's--and Yahoo's--search results.