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We are here and we are listening.
MSN asks members on how the search algo can be improved.
msndude




msg:1533069
 3:55 am on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

We are here and we are listening :)

Re: start.com not working in Opera. Thank you for the feedback. I will pass this along to the team.

With regards to spam we are constantly working on this and we have improved and will continue to. Please send along any private relevance feedback via stickymail.

Also, there are other folks that seem to say MSN Search is no good. That may be fair feedback, however, would love to get some ideas on where we need to improve most -- is it spam, relevance or another area altogether?

thanks!
- msndude

 

robho




msg:1533129
 11:47 pm on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

A number of folks have said that Google drives 3 times as much traffic as MSN

Have you done a proper survey across a reasonable number of sites? You might be hearing what you want to hear.

For my sites, with a variety of audiences, MSN referrers vary from 0.2% and 1.2% of the Google referrers (on two sites with millions of pages), to 6% on several medium size sites, to a maximum of 13% on a site with few pages.

Just to clarify that first figure, it's 4,007 referrers from Google yesterday, 9 from MSN. Way less than a third...

It does seem to be inversely proportional to the percentage of the site indexed, so if you could keep most of the pages you crawl in your index I'd expect your share to rise.

I do realise driving traffic to sites is not the objective, but that is a visible side effect of being successful at finding what the searcher is looking for.

Sztraik




msg:1533130
 12:23 am on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've been very happy with MSN lately because it managed to serp my website very well. I unfortunately needed to use bad old frames and so I described the content of every single page in a non spammy way in the noframe tag and created well written specific titles and descriptions. I thought it would have been useless, but then you came along and I'm receiving most of my traffic from you now. The users come back and everybody is happy. Unfortunately I know that what works for my content driven site might be used for spam too though, hopefully I won't get caught in the middle.
Also I started using MSN more as a user because I can finally find new sites in my searches when I need to.

shri




msg:1533131
 7:52 am on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> Just to clarify that first figure, it's 4,007 referrers from Google yesterday, 9 from MSN. Way less than a third...

Is that an algorithmic issue (you're not ranking) or a volume issue (same ranks and no visitors)?

robho




msg:1533132
 12:34 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is that an algorithmic issue (you're not ranking) or a volume issue (same ranks and no visitors)?

Mostly an indexing issue, affecting the ranking for minor keywords. On Google several million pages from the sites are indexed, so the sites are (correctly) found for tens of thousands of obscure terms, tens of thousands of entry pages.

MSN also crawls many thousands of pages a day, but the number of pages indexed (after a year) is a few thousand (on one site) to a few hundred (on another site). Which is why the MSN traffic proportion is higher for small sites where they are more likely to have indexed most of the pages.

It may also be related to volume on MSN, as one site is #1 for the main keywords on MSN and #20 on Google, yet MSN sends almost no traffic.

stevelibby




msg:1533133
 1:51 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

given what Google are doing at the moment and there ridiclus search results i give a massive thumbs up to MSN, i am even concidering puuting a MSN search box on my web site.
For me also the searches on msn match the pages i have worked on perfectly, however i dont get as much traffic as i do from Gooogle!

AGAIN BIG THUMBS UP TO MSN!

union_jack




msg:1533134
 3:42 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

my question is does msn have plans to remove affilate travel sites from its index. Google has a policy of coming down hard on affilaties and give the explantion that this is because in the vast number of duplicte sites online and it is up to us to come up with something original, i happen to agree with and i am a travel affilate.

My point is that my site is packed full of relevant travel information which is useful to the user but still has suffered a pentaly. I am not angry but i do intend to re jig my site to be succesful on msn i would appericate your feedback as to there is an oppurtunity for me to be succesful on msn or not.

secondly my site is a .com but my users are based in the uk will this cause a problem in respect to my results showing on msn.com and msn.co.uk

Your advice on this matter would be invalubale as my funds will only allow me to operate for a number of months and making the wrong decision could have a distarous effect on my business and family.

i look foward to hearing your advice and will of course take it on board.

Thankyou.

stevelibby




msg:1533135
 3:56 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

hi union jack
when you say travel site? in what area of travel are you?

Chris_D




msg:1533136
 10:57 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just to clarify that first figure, it's 4,007 referrers from Google yesterday, 9 from MSN. Way less than a third...

For a specific site, as msndude said, there are always issues of the demographics of the search engines userbase.

As well as msn having 1/3 of Google's traffic, probably the other statistic which affects msn referrals is where users click.

A survey published in April last year (with about 1600 participants) showed that around 72% of the surveyed Google users clicked on the algorithmic results rather than the paid. But only 29% of msn users click on the algorithmic results - the majority hit the paid.

So by the time you factor in the demographics of the msn search engine/ lower traffic/ more likely to click on the paid adverts - the amount of traffic your specific site will get from msn from an algorithmic only campaign could be understandably low.

And the converse could also apply - e.g. if your strategy was to just rely on e.g. AdWords only in Google.

Historically (pre 2002) - didn't we all do the Looksmart thing for the msn traffic and conversions?

The traffic & conversions are there - you just need to understand that not all search engines appeal to the same users, there are paid and algorithmic options, and you can't target all customers just one way.

np2003




msg:1533137
 2:42 am on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Webmasters like to "rank" their site performance, thus the huge interest in Google. Why doesn't MSN create a "PageRank" system for webmasters, that should be very fun. ;)

np2003




msg:1533138
 2:55 am on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, I would also agree with nutsandbolts.

Why is MSN more visited than Google, their MSN bot hits our site much more than Google, they update their cache results faster than Google but we get hardly any visitor from MSN, despite ranking in top 10 results on very big keywords.

I am really amazed at the progress MSN has made in the past 6 months. You guys have finally added stock quotes search from fieldbox, definition search, the engine looks alot smarter than it was a year ago, at this speed you guys will topple Google for sure. I think you just need to whack that search bar in every Windows desktop in the next release and you will take down G*. :)

nutsandbolts wrote:
The traffic conversion is the main problem - I am doing very well on MSN, especially with my new sites being on the first page near the top, but I'm getting very little traffic compared to Google where the sites typically feature on pages two or three.
Surely MSN gets oodles of traffic, so what can MSN do to improve this?

BTW, I'd like to also add that I tried to uninstall the Google toolbar, only to re-install it a week later, the MSN toolbar lacks a few important features such as "open search in new windows".. or was this it Y! bar.. hmm

topsites




msg:1533139
 3:39 am on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I dunno... I say get listed on Yahoo and Dmoz and the bs is over, end of story.

keno




msg:1533140
 4:40 am on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Feed Back on MSN -
I have two company sites “ABC Widgets” and “XYZ Service” with a Google rank of 3. Both ABC Widgets and XYZ Service are found in MSN and Yahoo search engines - and they are NUMBER ONE on the search results on BOTH engines – Thank you MSN, it is gratifying to know I exist in cyberspace, but really it's no big deal, because the business names are in the title tags.

Google can't find EITHER of these business names! It bugs me to no end, because customers can't find me on Google. However if I add one more obscure word to each company name like “ABC Widgets Redones” and “XYZ Service Fastfuzzy”, I show up on Google at number one. So what is that all about? Did I offend some Google god or what?

Maybe it’s a little off topic for MSN Dude. Vent over now.

crobb305




msg:1533141
 5:13 am on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Notice a lot of sites with symbols in the title ranking highly (arrows, etc). This looks sloppy.

Also, msnbot crawls my site every day, taking loads of bandwidth, yet not a single one of my internal pages rank for anything. The site is 4 years old, and the homepage does well. Would be nice to see some of the internal pages that the msnbot is spidering appear in the serps occasionally.

outland88




msg:1533142
 4:51 pm on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

The spam I reported for the past 3 months and to you MSN Dude is still sitting there so apparently you aren't listening and delivering things to the right people. Talk is cheap. Reminds me of Yahoo Tim.

The <<< >>>> thingy does seem to be a big thing with the spammers in MSN now.

Stuart_S




msg:1533143
 12:38 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

If anyone in your office has a 17" widescreen laptop, get them to take a look at the site. It looks terrible.

This may not be the norm but widescreen's are becoming more common. Actually, even when I change the browser window it looks bad.

You need to lay it all out better. I like what I see as far as content though. Search results are not great but you have my site where it should be so I won't complain too much.

What I would do is what you are likely already doing; The synchronize and stabilize method of implementation, it worked for you with the development of IE.

We will see big things I'm sure.

GameMasterM




msg:1533144
 4:56 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSN has found my Blogspot site and I rank where I should considering my niche. Yahoo's Inktomi visits every day and I rank very high on Yahoo as a result. Google does not recognize me even though I am THE authority for the niche subject I cover and I am using their software.? I am not in the database and the blog is over a year old.
Good job MSN, thanks for recognizing my blog. In my eyes you have trumped Google for relevance.

mogo




msg:1533145
 5:04 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Regarding conversion rate -- across a sample of several primarily educational sites, visitors from MSN search convert for us better than both visitors from Google and Yahoo.

MSN is noticeably one notch above the others in terms of referred visitors finding our content relevant enough to request additional info about it.

garyr_h




msg:1533146
 8:27 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

My site is getting a little more than what others are reporting on here: about 15% while Google gets about 46% and Yahoo around 39%

As for the search results:
They seem great for the most part with a few set backs. I love how new sites/pages are listed quickly, however larger sites seem to have a problem with getting their pages listed.

As well, I don't know how others feel, but I think search results from other search engines should not be included within the MSN results. If a user wanted to use Ask Jeeves to find what they are looking for, they would have went there in the first place.

There is also some problems with certain sites getting much more weight than what they should have, whereas other sites who should be having more weight don't. News papers seem to have a problem with this -- many times I have searched and a news article from some paper I never heard of pops up that doesn't even come close to what I searched for.

It also seems that pages with a certain amount of links are getting ranked quite high. I have seen several sitemaps and other pages with only links being listed in the 10-20 slots and sometimes higher.

A small suggestion I have to MSN and that I think all other engines should do as well (althought I don't know any that does) is give more weight to the sites who have the exact phrase that is searched for come first.

For example, let's say I do a search for [green pumpkins during spring]. It seems logical that the site that shows first is the one with that exact phrase. Instead, the user must do a search for ["green pumpkins during spring"]. However, if a user is searching for just that, why not give the quoted results first then after maybe the top 2 or 3 (or possibly have a thing at the top where it says "Did you mean:") show the unquoted version of the results -- if nothing else, this is at least worth testing out (or maybe you have... I don't know). Users know what they are searching for, the engine doesn't, so why not give the searcher the benifet of the doubt and give them the results first?

In conclusion:
Overall I see good returns from MSN giving me quality visitors. Once the screws get tightened a little more it might have the best results out of the big three.

webguybri




msg:1533147
 12:16 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)


Most of the search results look real good now after the last couple of months tweaking.

main problem is that you crawl a site alot but only rank or include a very small % of the sites pages.

Our very large site is only about 5% indexed -

patc




msg:1533148
 2:03 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

msndude:

I think MSN has been quite fair with the half-dozen or so established sites I watch on specific keywords.

The only thing I noticed is that one of my authority sites is a .com hosted in the UK. MSN assumes it is only of interest to UK users with a huge bias - basically it is nowhere to be seen on msn.com for the main keyword. Google.com has it at #2 and Yahoo.com at #8 accordingly, the regional versions of both put it at #1.

I think MSNs geolocated results are somewhat simplistic. Have you included the geolocations of the backlinks pointing to the site? Do you scour for references of the country or particular spellings which look like British English rather than American English to differentiate, etc?

I'm pretty certain if I moved this site to a server in the US, it would rank much higher on .com, but I don't see why I should, when the other two big engines are quite happy where it is (and so am I!).

You might want to bring in new criteria in your determining location relevance, or indeed turn down the knob of just how much bias you put on US hosted sites.

Thanks for the opportunity to engage you in this.

mosxu




msg:1533149
 2:32 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think MSN gives too much credit to the on-page factors and that's why content networks have taken over their results.

A lot of credit is given to websites exchanging links as well and because MSN Search is new I think they consider as one-way, the links obtained by exchanging links but the corresponding reciprocical links were removed.

[edited by: Receptional at 4:15 pm (utc) on Sep. 10, 2005]
[edit reason] You must not use specifics, Please see terms of service [/edit]

Matt Probert




msg:1533150
 2:35 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just done a quick vanity check on our domain, and am happy to report that you are listing it nicely. Very happy with the results.

Matt Probert

2by4




msg:1533151
 8:54 pm on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sunday, 2pm west coast time, an msn search gave me this result:

"An error occurred while processing your request.

Reference #.............."

Still waiting for msn to release their gold search, when will beta be done?

DaveN




msg:1533152
 12:27 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSN asks members on how the search algo can be improved.

Buy some good staff - consultants, People that know the Industry and listen too them!

DaveN

skizm




msg:1533153
 12:52 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't know about you guys, but I've actually started using MSN search more often for certain things.

MSNDude has a good point as to the search habits of different users. Some people just go with one thing over the other if its what they're used to. So I most definately believe conversion from different engines can be heavily dictated by the demographics of your potential visitors.

Anyhow, I'm lovin the bot. I have a site I opened barely over a month ago, and that puppy currently brings in 64.3% of my referred traffic, with yahoo at 8.9% and google at a sad 3.1%, mind you I only have maybe 3 backlinks so far, and how fresh the site is, but I say MSNBot is welcome any time ;)

As for your search functionality, one thing I would personally like to see from a security point of view, is efficient (while un-obtrusive) input sanitization of query input to deter script kiddies whom already plague the g double oh g el e. I mean christ, how many friggin sites need to get tagged by idiot 12yr olds using the same kiddie tool do there need to be?

for example, say a kid searches for something like
inurl:/some/stupid/old/overused/vulnerability/blah.php

or like;

intext:username password cvv2 inurl:customer

redirect their azz's to cybercrime.gov or something.

etc. blah, you get the point... Anyway thats one of my main grievences about google, sh*t man there's even a friggin book on using google to be a wanna be 31337 ¦-¦4><0¦2

know what I mean?

Anyway thats my two cents. What's the word on a pay-per-view no holds barred grudge cage match between Ballmer & Schmidt? hehe..

Oh an p.s. - start.com is crap in firefox, might want to look into that ;)

Cheers!

fischermx




msg:1533154
 9:28 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)


I have a site I opened barely over a month ago, and that puppy currently brings in 64.3% of my referred traffic, with yahoo at 8.9% and google at a sad 3.1%, mind you I only have maybe 3 backlinks so far, and how fresh the site is, but I say MSNBot is welcome any time

Lucky you! ;)
But it is exactly by things like this that we can state the low quality of MSN search.

subway




msg:1533155
 9:46 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

What people like about G compared to MSN is the simplicity of the home page. I know MSN is a portal but my belief is that most people don't read the waffle on your home page (I know it’s ad revenue but you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs) and the search results don't show quick enough, they're not **bang** there like G. I'd re-brand your search facility as a seperate resource to the portal.

If at all possible human check as many areas as you can, accept the fact that spammers will always find a way. Besides no surfer ever searches past the first 5 pages so human editing wouldn't actually be impossible for competitive terms and that way you can really target spammers without harming the little guys making a genuine living. G causes collateral damage to the decent majority every time they try and target the minority. Also, I’d put more emphasis on a sites theme and not a pages theme.

IMO people are no more unsatisfied with the MSN algo / results than they are with G or Y results, but MSN is like an old Grandfather that web savvy users can’t be bothered with (for search). It’s your image that isn’t right, not your results. Most importantly you need to become the Media darling, that’s G’s biggest strength.

bears5122




msg:1533156
 12:26 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is probably much easier said than done, but I think steering away from silly tactics to stop spam would be my suggestion. I'm not saying not to fight spam, but don't create some weird formula that says a new site can't rank for a year or getting a link from a non-relevant site will send you down the rankings. Although things like that work in a way, they also kill your results. The small percent of spammers that get hurt by these tactics don't account for the large percent of innocent sites that don't.

I guess where I'm going is what Google has turned into. They have stale results (especially if a site made in 2005 can't rank) and an algorithim that is so complex that it has destroyed their SERPs. I'd much rather search and find a site for someone who built 10,000 link with the same anchor text than to have a complete pile of garbage. Why? Well the guy who built 10,000 links probably is relevant, while throwing in too many filters and variables ends up with a result filled with scrapers and message boards. I know a search engine like Yahoo! is easier to game, but to a common user, their results are probably more relevant.

In a nutshell, try not to be too cute with the filters and penalties. :-)

Edge




msg:1533157
 2:36 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting thread, I just noticed the MSN bot spidering my site. I echo others in that my site has rarely been completely indexed. I have to say, that the MSN search results seem out of sorts.

Examples:

When I search the following "What is keyword", I get the same results as if I only searched for "keyword", "What" and "is" is ignored. For my particular search, "what is" just happens to be relevant, as there are several good documents entitled "What is keyword". I think the delivery of the search terms clearly indicates that I really want to know "what is". Maybe after some research, I'll spend some money on "keyword".

It seems that the MSN index gives organic link credit to advertisements listed on MSN. So, my perception is that if I pay to advertise, I will get a higher organic placement when a search is conducted for my relevant keywords. If my observation is correct, your search results are subject to credibility issues. Kind of like double ad servings

I think that as long as GG and Yh continue to deliver credible and relevant search results, that MSN will be on a slippery catch-up slope.

Craven de Kere




msg:1533158
 7:03 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

I saw that inordinate reliance on "on-page" elements is alledged.

I think that needs more qualification. There is inordinate reliance on certain page on-site elements, particularly the query in the URI string.

My take: Previously MSN had an inordinate reliance on backlinks from a single domain but the reaction to on-site elements has overcompensated toward the easily identifiable onsite elements.

Middleground would probably yeild better results, and qualifying backlinks more accurately (simple example is to differentiate between contextual backlinks on multiple sites vs sitewides more acutely in the backlink qualification routine) would allow for greater reliance on qualified backlinks (which really help you qualify pages on popular searches).

alwaysthinking




msg:1533159
 7:44 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSNDude:

I think MSN needs to develop an entirely "new angle" for your Search application, rather than attempt to pay catch up with competitors by mimicking or improving upon other firm's Search Products. Be a market LEADER in a new vision, rather than trying to battle for market share in the current iteration of Search models.

The public has already "voted" and is indifferent to your efforts at improving your current Search product, judging by DRAMATICALLY LOW numbers of referral traffic that I receive from MSN in a highly competitive, high tech market niche. I have good web presence in MSN, as do many other web masters posting in this thread. It's the lack of traffic delivered that seems to have people's concerned. I'm willing to bet that very few web masters get the majority of their SERP traffic from MSN, the few that do probably lack good presence in the other major search engines.

I think that most everyone will agree that your ALGO has been much improved over the course of the past year or so, since Microsoft redoubled its efforts on Search. But I think that the years of neglect has already taken its toll on the reputation of MSN's Search product, and I don't think that there is anything MSN can do to regain consumer patronage and market share. Simply put, MSN Lost the battle in the current "Search Wars" ... and should work on winning Future Wars, rather than waste resources on trying to gain incremental increases in today's search products.

MSN tried and your effort came up short... I can't foresee anything you do to improve your current product causing a major wholesale change in consumer perception to favor your product over your competitors...

IMPROVING CONSUMER PERCEPTION is what Microsoft needs to improve, as your search product has undoubtedly been vastly improved. But throwing Advertsing money at it would just be a waste of money. WEB consumers are too sophisticated to be swayed simply by advertising - You must deliver something of value to gain their patronage.

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