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This 51 message thread spans 2 pages: 51 ( [1] 2 > >     
Seriously - Does anyone really have any idea
About how to gain rank on MSN?

 10:03 am on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

We are about 1.5 months old, a store, selling someting very common. The big G did a LONG hard look at our website recently and daily hits our site but never crawls further. Y , occasionally looks but doesn't leap.

MSN is on our site everyday, ALL day. It takes a break now and then. Usually I get two different IP schemes coming in from time to time.

We have 800+ pages if you do a site:www.example.com

YET we rank on page 15 (from 18) for our 3 word keyword phrase.

We rank NOWHERE for our MAIN keyword

We rank on page 20 for our 2 word phrase.
Our competition? One website that comes up is a website using the same software, so the long urls being produced from a php dynamic based website aren't a problem for them. In fact they have a URL wrapper thar reduces that, and ours is even better using html wrappers. However on first click these do not wrap, a spider check show both long and short URLS (to be crawled) Could this be hurting us? (repeated stuff).
Our main keyword is in almost every category.

We have our descriptions of our initial, specials , or new products as KEYWORD: RED widget size s/m/l
Our mouse over text is the same as above.
We have an article page on our first page with articles that use our keyword(s) approximately 8 times in 250-400 words in each article.

We started to build a nice link affiliate program with others from somewhat relevent and highly relevent websites (only a few right now)

Our url wrapper isnt working with most of the 'extra' pages like the links, articles etc but they are being seen by msn.

So the question is, our competition has almost nothing on their website mentioned their keyword. Their product descriptions aren't related to the keyword that could be contrued as such. The filenames of their pictures are just the model numbers, we went through and renamed all our filenames KEYWORD_redwidget etc.

So what do YOU think is the issue here. How do they get page 1 rank 1 for this keyword, and yet they have VERY LITTLE obvious density etc. Heck they don't even have they metatags setup correctly!

So - is it even worth the effort to do all of this. Optimizing our descriptions Our descriptions for our products are about 30 words long, and the model numbers and category names are all in different text sizes etc in each product. So in other words if you go into our product, you will see in large text KEYWORD: RED WIDGETS
description: This KEYWORD is probably one of the best red widgets you could purchase for the money in today's market.
KEYWORD MODEL#34234 (instead of just model number)
Filename of the pictures Keyword_redwidget2342


I'm starting to pull my hair out.

>0< page rank for g
>0< page rank for y

OH btw, we are ranked #1 page 1 for a two word combination of a category of ours, that really noone searches for, maybe 1000 per month. And we did nothing to optimize for that..

Sorry if I repeated myself here...it's late and i'm REALLY frustrated. :)




 10:29 am on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can't be to specific due to TOS here, but ..

Go to MSN and enter just one 3-letter keyword, (something like UFO).

Note the very top #1 site listed (sometimes it falls to the #2 slot)
The URL has 'niche' in it.

I know everyone and every site worth mentioning in my field.
NObody ever heard of this guy or his product. Popped up out of thin air.
Page is NOwhere to be found on Google or Yahoo, yet #1 in MSN.

If you can figure out how he did it, please sticky me for sure. - Larry


 11:18 am on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

My theory is that it's all about link popularity. And pouplar as in the more the merrier.

Try playing with the sliders. See if your site ranks better if you lower the popularity slider.

If your site ranks much better with {popl=1} you probably need to go out and find yourself lots of new links.

We know nothing about any pageranking algoritm that MSN might weight in. But this far, even lots of internal links within your site seem to work pretty well.

Then of course, it really seems to help if your server is hosted in the same country as your potential customers (even though that knob seems to have been turned down a little lately).


 3:19 pm on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

anyone have any idea on the frequency of updating for MSN? i think it's dynamic, ie. daily, but was wondering if anyone has been tracking it.


 7:52 pm on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

webhound - daily. for me. I ranked from page 18, 15, 17, 16, 18, 15, 14 once, etc. How do I know...I actually take the time to look.

Is there a tool that will search beyond 3 pages for your keyword? I'd love to find it so I dont have to sift so much by hand!

As far as the link popularity and country of placement. I think the country of placement thing is just wrong. We are hosted in Canada and obviously want a USA based customer and are USA based. But we shouldn't be penalized for this. We are moving as they are unreliable - seems like it is run out of someones garage. But the point is, is this hurting us? I don't know but I am not taking the chance. WE are moving because they are horrible, not because we think we are being penalize. It's just an added perc to the move.

Link popularity. We have NO links to and from. At least that the search engines see. WE have a few websites with links to us on their page, and are slowly building our links system. But we are thinking of taking it to straight html as we are a php based store (oscommerce). And have noticed that many people with successful stores have a straight html based link system - better, they have a splash page with a sitemap - links - faqs/about us pages in straight html with an ENTER button and flashy graphics on a splash page, then they have 0 ranking for their actual store. Every customer they get hits the splash page and is working well.
Does these mean search engines are penalizing people that sell stuff...seems so.



 10:45 pm on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

My site is ranking extremely well on MSN. All I did was follow Brett Tabke's 26 rules.

As I add new sections to the site, I notice that it takes MSN awhile to pick them up. But, when they're finally indexed, they move up in rank quickly. I'm in the top ten for just about any key phrase I want.

Where I'm not doing well is with the subpages from individual manufacturers. For example, my Acme Hammers page (which has links to the various types of Acme Hammers) ranks in the top five, but if I do a search for Acme Rubber Hammers, the Rubber Hammer page doesn't rank well at all.

MSN has always taken a long time to rank my sites. Perhaps your site is still too new.


 7:28 am on Feb 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a rather serious issue. I am on page1 rank1 and rank 2 for red widgets. BUT IT DOESNT GOTO A PRODUCT OR CATEGORY! LOL. It takes the customers to privacy.php and conditions.php! ARGH. I am considering a java redirect when people come in..as people are leaving almost immediately once they hit these pages.

These aren't really our keywords either. We target a keyword that has over 1 million searches per month, the two word keywords phrases we are targetting next get almost 400,000 each. We are on page 15 for the 400,000 one...not ranked at all for the 1 mil one.

For this specific search, there are less than 2500 searches per month on this item.

Why did it pick these as there is NOTHING in those documents about these products. Only the category has that keyword phrase in it. Why wouldn't it go to a product or the actual category? Seems ODD.

Had another DEEP crawl from the big G tonight. Took 6 hours. NO index, no ranking still :(
Y hits everyday, but doesn't crawl past the first page :(



 12:56 pm on Feb 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

My site seems to be ranking ok on MSN. Not great - like it does on Google - but better than over at Yahoo.

The only thing I've noticed on MSN is that unless you have a very high link popularity (however MSN measures it), brute force tends to work fairly well. I don't mean doing black hat type tricks. Instead, make sure you use the keyword many, many times on the page (far more than in Google) - have a H1 and a H2 tag and a good title. In short, absent having a very high PR type site, doing some "light keyword stuffing" in various combinations seems to push a site up in MSN.


 1:41 pm on Feb 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm very favourably impressed by MSN Search. It seems to be more on the ball and slightly more rapid in getting relevant references. However I'm still not getting a huge amount of traffic from them, since I believe my audiences are more likely to be Googlers. :(


 7:32 pm on Feb 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

doing some "light keyword stuffing" - density of around 6% seems to do it


 7:39 pm on Feb 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Length of title has played a role for my sites. Whenever I make the title 5 or 6 words, I decrease in rank. When I shorten it to 2 to 4 words, I increase (as many as 3 pages). This assumes all other things equal/unchanged. I noticed this change consistently with title-length adjustments exclusively.


 7:56 pm on Feb 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Here's something funny:

For several keywords in both msn and google sites who copy and paste the results onto their own page are showing up #1 and #2.

On one site the keywords are in the title as well, but the rest of the page has nothing to do with the copied material/title. The other site is just a spammy title and then copied search results.

My site is even listed within the results they list ;)

Kinda funny...


 8:41 pm on Feb 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anyone have any thoughts on <H> tags? Some of the top sites are utilizing them.


 9:48 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK I've posted some of these observations in other threads so apologies for boring people who read everything. I can't believe, incidentally, that there is so little comment on this compared to the activity on the Google forums... this is surely going to be as important in a fairly short time...

Here in short are my observations/theories/hypotheses so far.

MSN doesn't like deep pages. Got a big site with lots of data? Linked to it all in a logical way with no more than 50 links per page? Got lots of data pages 4/5/6/7 clicks from the home page? Hmm, you're probably doing ok in Google, but your pages aren't indexed too well on MSN and where they are indexed they're not showing up well even on really specific searches. Sounds familiar? You're not alone. I checked the numbes on "site:" searches for a variety of sites - lots of big db-driven sites are doing appallingly badly compared to their Google site:search numbers.

Which sites are doing relatively well? News/information sites where the content changes very often.

OK, here's my first theory on this. MSN are doing "shallow scooping" with MSNBot; they are looking mostly 2/3 links down from the home page only. This way, they pick up the news/info stories that are considered important on that day. It's not where they end up in the sitemap hierarchy that determines their "importance" (as it might with Google), it's that the BBC (or whoever) considered them important enough on their day to put them on or near the home page.

Forget PageRank and how that works for Google - this is more like "snapshot pagerank" - how important (ie how close to the home page) was this bit of news/data when it was first published.

Why would they do this? One possible reason: they don't want to replicate Google results; they want to distinguish themselves in the market with a different approach.

You can take two approaches to this. (1) "This is really unfair, dude, this isn't how Google works, I hope they get their act together soon so I get the rankings I deserve." (2) "OK, interesting idea, let's play around with my site and see what works". I'm looking for like-minded types who are doing just that.

My site is of the large db kind described above, and we do really well on Google: 40% of our traffic is Google, the site is #2 of 9million on its main two-word phrase and we are found on 50,000+ different phrases every month. It's white-hat bog-standard sitemap SEO'd. Not really working with MSN, so I'm experimenting by putting a page on showing just yesterday's new data, to see if it makes a difference to MSN. I'll mail anyone who wants to know how that works out (I'm giving it three more weeks to work out).

Still reading? Thanks, you're obviously dedicated.

Here's the next hypothesis: MSN is doing something "weird" that attributes relevance from subsidiary pages up to the home page.

What I am talking about is this. My results in MSN are generally not great, but the home page is #1 for some phrases (3-word) that don't contain all of those words. If I were a competitor of mine I would be very annoyed by this.

HOWEVER - it's not as illogical as it looks, because I have pages deeper in my site for those three-word phrases that are very relevant indeed - in fact, those pages ARE #1 in Google for those same search phrases.

It looks to me therefore as though MSN is "thinking" as follows: let's not send the users to the deep page: if we know a site is relevant for a phrase, let's send the user to the home page for that site, where they can access it the way that the original webmaster envisaged users coming to that site.

Yes, it's counter to the way we've got used to Google doing things, but is it such a bad thing? The main site I run has been optimised, sure, but it wasn't built with Google in mind, it was built with users in mind - and to be honest, I'd rather any new users were directed to my home page instead of to the deep data pages that Google tends to send them to.

ok, ok, I'll shut up. Apologies for length. The above are just ideas, and I could easily be wrong. Comments, arguments and downright contradictions are welcome.



 10:36 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I favour teh second approach - radical in design but relevent explains quite a bit to.

This is going to be quite an engine to watch in the future.


 4:54 pm on Feb 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

My weakest sites seem to be doing well in MSN while my big sites are nowhere to be found. MSN doesn't seem to worry about inbound links at all as I have about five sites ranking number one or two for competative keywords each of which only has one or two inbound links (many on target outbounds though).

MSN is obviosly using a lot of one-page factors and seems to weight domain name and meta title very heavily. They also seem to prefer index pages to subpages.

Looking at things, it seems also that they have a pretty heavy dupe content filter in place.


 2:20 pm on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was hopeful when i saw how quickly my pages were being indexed. MSN is spidering my site non-stop, and has more pages indexed than any of the other SEs...but where's the traffic? It never materialized...

Just Guessing

 3:40 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Got plenty of #1 rankings without doing anything to the site - looks like good old fashioned Google optimisation works well - links, anchor text, title, etc.

Don't get much traffic though - only a tenth of my Google traffic.


 4:03 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

5 out of my 6 sites rank #1 for their most important searches, 1 site is inexplicably nowhere at all.

Sites all white hat, not many incoming links just good solid content and on-page seo.
I think we are a long way off being able to make any serious deductions as there are still too many good sites not showing.

PS despite the fantastic serps, I get virtually no traffic from MSN at all


 7:17 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Links from an Internet Search Engine - Full list
- MSN 1622 1708
- Google 1596 1599
- Yahoo 505 505
- AOL 155 155
- Ask Jeeves 52 52
- Netscape 28 28
- Other search engines 28 28
- Dogpile 27 27
- Earth Link 15 15
- Overture 11 11
- Others 53 53

I am getting major traffic from MSN! Google wouldn't even be in 2nd if it wasn't for my $500/day adwords campaign.

Bring the heat MSN! Google deserves it!


 10:44 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Here's what I've gotten for the month from the search engines:

- Yahoo1178512214
- MSN75447560
- Google35263592
- Unknown search engines283284
- Google (Images)278362
- AltaVista277277
- Dogpile157157
- Overture146146
- AOL145150
- Ask Jeeves117118
- Others404

Before Allegra, Google was the top referring search engine.


 3:30 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

It looks to me therefore as though MSN is "thinking" as follows: let's not send the users to the deep page: if we know a site is relevant for a phrase, let's send the user to the home page for that site, where they can access it the way that the original webmaster envisaged users coming to that site.

That's like going to a 50 story building with a thousand different offices and wanting to arive at an office on the 40th floor section A1 but expected to arrive at the main level and figure out how to get there on your own. Probably can as long as the building is laid out in a logical simple matter, but inconveinent and much slower than being beemed right to that space. And for that matter, I would like to be beemed directly to similar office spaces within the city so as to not have to navigate through each building. This analogy is what a "good" search engine should do.


 11:25 am on Mar 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

newwebster - I see what you mean.

However, the interesting question for me is not "Should MSN (or a 'good search engine') work this way?" - we can argue about that all we like.

The interesting questions are:

(a) Is MSN really working/thinking this way?
(b) If it is, how do we make our sites compatible with this way of thinking - without damaging our position elsewhere, particularly with Google?

Obviously we need to nail (a) before we tackle (b)!



 1:48 pm on Mar 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I really wouldn't mind MSN giving out a "Best Practices" guide for publishers.

Google: All my 300 pages are on the first page for their keyword. However my homepage is on the 300th page for its keyword.

MSN: My homepage is 3rd from the top for its keyword. However my pages are on the 20th-100th page of results.



 4:44 pm on Mar 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

However, the interesting question for me is not "Should MSN (or a 'good search engine') work this way?" - we can argue about that all we like.

The interesting questions are:

(a) Is MSN really working/thinking this way?
(b) If it is, how do we make our sites compatible with this way of thinking - without damaging our position elsewhere, particularly with Google?

Obviously we need to nail (a) before we tackle (b)!


Why waste your time optimizing for a bad search engine?

If you try to optimize for this engine, you will regret it later when MSN figures out what they have just is not cutting it if they have not already figured this out already. IF they do not change, then it is not going to be worth the effort because they will not be able to capture any of the users from Yahoo and Google.


 5:28 pm on Mar 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you try to optimize for this engine, you will regret it later when MSN figures out what they have just is not cutting it if they have not already figured this out already. IF they do not change, then it is not going to be worth the effort because they will not be able to capture any of the users from Yahoo and Google.

absolutely agree, please don't bother with msn, just let me mop up all the traffic, i'm happy to have it as it converts very well.


 6:10 pm on Mar 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

- Yahoo 1,178,512,214

You've gotten over a billion pages views from Yahoo this month? Do they even get 52 million queries a day?


 8:07 pm on Mar 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ok guys from page NOWHERE to be found to page 4 on one day and parking itself solid for the last 3 days on page 7 for our main keyword.

Our second keyword (two keyword phrase) - is NOW ON PAGE 1! We however slipped from the #3 position to the # 6 position on page one.

Ok lets discuss the changes I made and why I think my two keyword phrase is ranking from page 20 - 1 in ONE DAY.
I moved my store to another folder - created a 'splash' or doorway page in straight html.
The title of the webpage doesn't have the keyword phrase in it directly unless you read backwards. IE: Widgets: Red, Blue, Green. (red widgets)
I repeat the title in h1 tags resized to 10px.
THen I use the actual term BLUE WIDGETS is the first category link and is in h2 tags.
I have 90 words on my 'splash page' with photos and no alt text over images. Most of my words are links. The only ones that arent are ones that are in photos or in one style as headings over 'articles'.

I may be shooting myself in the foot here if people run the same type of site as mine, but I'm ranking higher than multibillion dollar corporations on MSN at the moment.

I HAVE NO IDEA why this is occuring. We were on rank 3 but slipped to rank 6 on page one for our keyword phrase 'blue widgets'. I did a density test against all of the people above me (still can't figure out exactly what the heck I am looking at nor does it seem to make any viable scientific conclusions) - and my density is FAR greater than theirs, while my competition below me is about the same. For some reason MSN LOVED something about my site and I think if someone could figure out what it is they like over what they don't like - I would be in the #1 position AND we could take this and really roll with it.

My search term in overture is over 200k per month ranked on page one. Our main single keyword has a search over over a million and we are on page 7 but were on page 4. This all has taken place in the period of less than a week.

In 24 hours I went from page 20 to 1 and not at all to page 4! AMazing!

NOW - to figure out how to keep it there or to figure out what it liked.

Mind you, this site wasn't complete yet - I planned on added an intro text at the bottom of the site and side to 'dilute' my keywords to get ranking from google/yahoo - but I'm not touching it because of my msn ranking.
I am not seeing the greatest business from this still. I know msn is a 'minor' search engine but it's nice to see results - even if it REALLY makes me frustrated that I can't figure out WHY I am there and why my competition is ranked higher.

I can tell you that my title is also short - and the people above me, even shorter..the people below me...longer.

So what does this mean? I guess my index.html will be for msn and I'll create another page called home.html that I will point google to and all my recipricol links once we start that program.



 11:44 am on Mar 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

HenryUK wrote:
Which sites are doing relatively well? News/information sites where the content changes very often.

I'd agree with that - our sites with changing content are doing very well.

Also a very poor website that displays random content is doing extremely well.

It really doesn't have much else going for it other than randomly generated content (random on each refresh) so I'd have to agree with you and put it's high positioning down to changing content.

I'd hate to 'let the cat out of the bag', but I think webmasters should give this a try and post their results. :-)


 1:11 pm on Apr 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why waste your time optimizing for a bad search engine?

As topr8 hinted in his riposte: traffic.

My site like many others offers users a dedicated search to access data pages. It's the best way for them to access those pages. With c.50k different unique items listed on the site, just browsing them would be a nightmare. But the site offers a browse option - so that Google, which can't fill in my search form with relevant info, can index the pages. Result: 45% of traffic from SEs and all kinds of related sales benefits. If I'd waited for Google to "get its act together" and find a way of browsing my site as I originally set it up, I'd still be waiting and I probably wouldn't have a job.

On the other hand, I understand newwebster's point, in that I'm not going to make radical changes to the site (which might screw up my Google performance) on the basis of a search engine that is still undergoing rapid redevelopment (I understand that two major upgrades to MSN search are planned for 2005).

Meanwhile, I'm trying to understand this version. I would hope that this was the point of this forum!

What I have so far:

1) Fresh content good
2) Proximity to home page good
3) Deep links bad
4) Short titles good
5) External links on anchor phrase good*
6) Tendency to favour home page or "section home pages" over deeper data pages even when the key phrase may not appear on those pages

(*I have a lot of these from powerful sites and the site is #1 - of 62m - on msn.co.uk for that phrase, as it is on Google.co.uk - of 56m)

Possible suggestions for owners of db-driven "deep" sites:

A) Link to daily-refreshed new content on home page (if you have it)
B) Display randomised sample data on your home page (doesn't have to be ugly eg "Here's a sample of how your ad could look on our site; or "Here's an example of the kind of product information you will find on the site")
C) Re-evaluate your titles - do you really need all the words in them, would they make sense cut down some more, are there any words that you're not getting referrals on, are there some elements in the title that are so specific that Google would find them because they were on the page anyhow (ie unique part numbers etc), do you have a phrase that you include in every title because it's (say) the tagline of your site?

So far I have done (A). This had some initial success in encouraging uptake of indexed pages, but the effect has dropped away - almost all the pages indexed in February in this way have been dropped from the index despite the fact that they remain accessible from the same URLs (although they're not linked on the "fresh content" page any more). I don't understand why MSN is dropping pages that it has indexed and that are still live - you would have thought that if they were worth spidering and including once they wouldn't then drop them - but that's what is happening, and I know I'm not alone in that.

I shall be looking at the other two options and I'll be glad to hear from anyone else experimenting.

Referrals, by the way, have hardly shifted at all. Pretty steady at just <5% for Q1. Pitiful I know - but there's the growth opportunity!


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