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Microsoft has decided that it’s time to start charging for the use of Bing’s API. In practical terms, what that means is any free SEO tool that you are currently using just might stop tracking search engine rankings after August 1. That is, unless the toolmaker decides to pay the fees Microsoft is asking.

That likely won’t happen unless the SEO tool becomes a paid tool. Free tools usually cost the makers money, or at least time. And no SEO is going to provide free tools that cost them additional money.

Is this a game changer for most SEOs? Not really? There are good paid SEO tools on the market right now, so if you’re married to your free tools, you should prepare right now to convert to a paid one if you want to continue monitoring your Bing rankings. Or, you just might have to relegate yourself to not following your Bing rankings.

I think this could kill Bing as a search engine. It’s not going to be competitive if there’s no reason for searchers to use them over Google. With all those toolbars out there using Bing as the primary search engine (Conduit comes to mind), it remains to be seen whether they will continue to provide the service if they have to pay for the use of Bing’s API. This will likely delude Bing’s share of the search market.

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