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Microsoft Launches New Era in MS Search

 10:18 pm on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Continued From: [webmasterworld.com...]

Wow! Lot’s of excitement. Thanks for all of the feedback. We just want to address a few of the topics that came up.

What is the beta? As WebGuerilla has pointed out the beta is an evolution of our Technology Preview. As you can tell we made major enhancements to the user interface and added a bunch of new features. We still have work to do, however, to get [search.msn.com...] to be able to use our new algorithmic search results that are available at [beta.search.msn.com...] .

How does one get into the results? All of our web results are generated algorithmically so you cannot buy your way into the index. We will not try and teach site optimization to you guys – assume you have that covered :) If you want to submit your URL to us you can do that at [beta.search.msn.com...] .

Also regarding relevance, there has been some speculation on some online forums about MSNBot using Google search result pages to build our index. Let us set the record straight – that is simply not true. We respect robots.txt and as a result we will not crawl Google’s search result pages.

With regards to site availability that is something we are continuously working on. Oshoma Momoh, a General Manager in the MSN Search team, posted a blurb about this on the MSN Search blog -- [blogs.msdn.com...] .

Finally some folks have asked why we don’t just turn this on for all users right now? We love the words of encouragement, however, we have a number of bugs that we need to fix and we need to make sure that we can run the service with great performance and deliver high quality results. We will get there.

Please keep the feedback and constructive criticism coming – we appreciate all of it.

- msndude (msd)



 10:32 pm on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting, sometimes unexpected results when trying the names of some major travel destinations. For one such popular destination, a content-free link site with an Alexa ranking of 5 million is the #1 result. If this SERP is retained in the January version, these folks are going to be surprised by the surge in traffic!


 10:52 pm on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hey msndude, thanks for the pointers, and thanks for debunking the notion that MSN is crawling via scraping Google's index somehow. I saw an email that someone wrote to us, and it didn't sound like something MSN would do. Glad to hear it from the source though. :)

In case it didn't come across well in my post above, I think it's great that MSN is launching this new look at their technology preview. The search geek in me really enjoys horsing around with a new search engine, and it also helps to raise the awareness of how important search is in everyday life these days.


 10:53 pm on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Good to hear from you MSN Dude.

It would be nice to know when we could expect to actually see these results on MSN.com.

Any better comment on the window of time that we could expect to see this live?

West of Willamette

 11:08 pm on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hmmm...I did a search for a coupon related term at [beta.search.msn.com...] and Google.com was the #10 results. I've also pulled up Google News in searches.


 1:04 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm getting "google.com" as a result on obscure searches like "wholesale conchos" in quotes..

What's up with that?


 1:08 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I like how my site is in top 100,000 according to Alexa and when I try to find my site in the new search I only get the sites that link to mine.


 1:25 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm getting "google.com" as a result on obscure searches like "wholesale conchos" in quotes..

What's up with that?

That's really interesting. As a matter of point, it seems like a really arcane search term. Could it be that Google.com is the most "heavily weighted" website on the Internet and is being pushed ahead of a bunch of sites that really aren't relevant, considering that nothing really is?

That wouldn't be an option except that hindsight should be 20/20.

I somehow find this "dialog" (albeit one-way) between GoogleGuy and MSNDude intriguing. I must say, it isn't as if GoogleGuy couldn't have just checked with the guy who analyzes the log files (they have a guy who only does that) and asked him if MSNBot was crawling them :)

Talk about a jab in the ribs!


 1:27 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I like how my site is in top 100,000 according to Alexa and when I try to find my site in the new search I only get the sites that link to mine.

With my limited knowledge of Alexa, it seems that soley based on one person using the toolbar and visiting your site fairly regulary (e.g. once per day) would bump you up into the ~100,000 region.

Is this the case?


 1:37 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy and MSNDude! That's too cool :)

I too am pretty impressed with the evolving MSN results. It helps that a few of our sites are doing very well in the SERPS.

However, the burning question does need to be addressed. When when when is it going live? :)



 1:37 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google.com is coming up on a lot of searches.

With this update, the sliders are working now in Firefox (thanks msndude), and it seems that if I make the popularity 100% as well as the freshness, I can get Google.com to come up for a lot of product related seaches in the top 5.

Something is awry with their LSI (no more rhymes now, and I mean it).

...or perhaps GG has been doing some surreptitious optimization ...I'm going to go check for anchor text bombing in the MSN Search blogs. ;)


 1:50 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

if I make the popularity 100% as well as the freshness, I can get Google.com to come up for a lot of product related seaches in the top 5

And if you set the popularity to some number much greater than 100 and use a very generic search term you'll get an idea of which sites are considered most popular - obviously Google usually appears.


 1:55 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Looks like there are some wierd DNS and/or Database issues somewhere too.

I have found 2 different cached versions of groups.google.com - one of them is the correct one and the other is a cPanel holding page!



 2:38 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I found a bug. When I do a site search, it initially says there are more results than the number of pages in my site. However, if I advance to the next few pages of results, eventually the number of results drops to a number smaller than the actual number of pages I have. In other words, its initial estimate of the number of results for a search appears to be wrong. Edit: furthermore, if I click on the page number for results that don't actually exist, it says "we couldn't find any sites containing site:www.bluefuzzywidgets.com"


 2:54 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Econman, I agree with you. I've searched for some top Caribbean tourism destinations and it appears that by default government websites with dreary press releases are ranked #1 by MSN - on others the USA CIA page for the country comes up first.


 2:58 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

freejung, the behaviour you report occurs on google too, sometimes it initially says there are more pages with results then there actually is. I think it is normal, cause when you search, the engine doesnt return ALL the matches; that would be a waste of ressources.

Still, I am sorry to say this, but msn beta is junk. The results arent good, and there are tons of elementary stuff that seems to be neglected. Duplicate pages in the index, page title being given too much importance; and I noticed that in only 2 searches.


 3:03 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I disagree with the results being junk.

MSN seems to be showing relevant sites for product searches across a wide range of industries, without the constant bombing of epinions, dealtime, kelkoo, etc. in the results, as is a problem with the Big G.


 3:48 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Odd, never noticed that in Google, and I do site searches in G all the time.


 3:51 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I just think that we are at an exciting point in search engine history. MSN making inroads and Google being the dominant force (at present). It will be interesting to see how things pan out in the long run. I for one, think that this is a great time for SEO's to explore and experiment.

Cry havoc! And let loose the bots of search!


 3:55 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm really pleased that we're once again going to have several REAL search engines - search engines that index everything, not just paying sites. My site's not ranking well in Microsoft search now, but I'm still pleased. Thank you, Microsoft.


 4:03 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I really like MSN's new search system. Although it has some issues, I feel they are more accurate than Google and Yahoo!. That is saying a lot for a product still in development.

I also find GoogleGuy's comments quite telling. It is obvious MSN is the biggest threat to Google and the fact that MSN is this ahead of schedule must really have them worrying.

Google relies completely on search and having users type Google.com into their browser. MSN has the beauty of their site loading up immediately for many users. They will also have much more traffic with longhorn being implemented.

With that said, Google must have the best search results to compete. By looking at the two, Google is just too stale. I'm tired of looking for recent happenings or new websites and finding them buried 50 pages deep behind forum posts and blogs.

MSN has made the first strike, and I think it is just the beginning. I have a feeling in a year or two we'll be talking about msndude and googleguy will be just another member.


 4:36 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

search engines that index everything, not just paying sites

and no apparent reliance or emphasis on dmoz listings!

great news for those who cannot get into dmoz for love nor money. when a search engine depends on dmoz, you can't even pay for inclusion.


 4:37 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

They need a link back to the search main page in the SERPS. And ditch the Yahoo ad scheme of ads nauseum: top, right, and bottom is just too cluttered. do what the leader does when you're behind in the race


 4:41 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


Hmmm, there is a lot I can agree with in your post.

Google appear (as I have no concrete proof) to be playing with the results and shifting who gets where in the SERPs on an arbitary basis.

If I were MSN I would allow people to "game" my results and get SEO's to focus on my search engine - for the obvious financial beniefits.

Then when the competiton is wiped out slam them with expensive PFI/PPC programs when they have no other options.

Paranoid? - probably!


 4:42 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Still, I am sorry to say this, but msn beta is junk"

Agreed. I would like nothing better than to have one of the "others" come up in quality. But from the searches I ran tonight on the beta, one thing is very clear. The microsoft SE is not particularly adept at excluding link schemes. In one niche area, I saw one fellow's sites, on the same subject matter, appear on the first four pages of the serps. And the content on nearly every one of these sites is nearly identical. If this is the best that MS can do, Google doesn't have to worry. MS can run as many butterfly commercials as they want--hype doesn't replace results.


 4:49 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

"I guess Google is getting a bit nervous as well they should becuase Microsoft is ruthless and they have their sights set on search. "

They'd be stupid not to worry. They took down Netscape and the browser was a freebie. Imagine with the money being made on text ads on searches now. Microsoft has over $30 Billion in cash (after giving back about 30 more to the shareholders) and adds billions more each quarter.

They can hire pretty much whoever they want, license whatever technology that is needed and play dirty. Sue them after they drive you outa business....10 years later you'll settle for $500 mil or so and the lawyers already ate half.

I bet you that Google will not keep decent (but new) sites ranked #24656544 for a year or so anymore and sites will not move from #1 to page 450 within days.

[edited by: walkman at 5:09 am (utc) on Nov. 12, 2004]


 4:54 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Still, I am sorry to say this, but msn beta is junk"

it's not even out of the beta yet. How many times has Google tweaked it's algo since their beta?


 5:02 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, at least with the sliders on msn search, the guy at the bottom of the list can be brought to the top of the list with a slide and a click. MSN is at least giving the little guy a chance to be at the top for a change.

As for fighting spam, google has taken it to the extreme where one little mistake can wipe an entire site out in one day.

I had a site that suddenly got indexed really well one day and got a huge amount of traffic from google which used up all my bandwidth. So my host replaced all my pages with a page that said "This customer exceded it's bandwith limit" And in one day that site was completely dropped from the google index.

I had the bandwidth upgraded so that it would handle all the traffic google sent it which cost about $160 extra a month and the next day the site was dropped from google. Talk about upset!

That site never got reindexed. Why? Was the "bandwidth pages" considered spam? Yahoo didn't ban the site? It's crazyness.

From then on, I use dedicated servers for all my sites. Just in case google get's a wild hair and likes me again.


 5:09 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am very pleased with the results on the new search engine. One nice thing I have observed is there is a good assortment of both newer sites and older sites in the SERPS, while Google seems to be too weighted toward older sites.


 6:05 am on Nov 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Funny thing here - I have two older sites that got buried by google after 4 years of doing well. No changes to the site - just downgraded without rhyme or reason.

New black hat sites are doing well in both Google and MSN. Cloaking was a result of being messed around by google. If you cant get an "organic site" to rank well then go for cloaking.

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