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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

 

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.

RichTC




msg:1533160
 11:19 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi,

On the 2nd Sept in the thread by msndude about the new products i wrote:-

"Would be pleased if you could improve msn search and your search crawl bot technology and your customer service relating to the new msn search before you branch out further elsewhere.
In the UK i have asked for feedback on one of the sites we work on 5 times now without even a reply!, your search bot does not index the site correctly nor does it cashe the pages correctly.

Your search facility in general requires attention yet on the face of it no action is being taken or if you are you are, you not telling us about it.

Jack of all trades etc comes to mind currently."

On the 5th Sept, MSNdude sent me a sticky asking for details. A couple of days later i replied confirming that MSN had still not made contact with me and highlighted the problem with the site concerned and the indexing problems.

As at today i have still not heard anything from ANYONE what so ever at MSN UK.

I can only conclude that "MSM ARE NOT listening" or rather "They ARE Listening but doing nothing about it"

Amazing!

andy_boyd




msg:1533161
 1:01 pm on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hey RichTC ...

I contacted MSNdude about a site that was receiving UK traffic, when in fact it was targeted to the US market. I gave him my URL and also sent various search strings showing the issue. Now ... about a week after ... my site has only got 3 pages in the MSN index!

This isn't some sort of crappy spam site with scraped content either, I've spent hours writing unique content and designing the site from the ground up.

RichTC




msg:1533162
 4:45 pm on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Having been involved in a number of websites over the years and watched closely how msn is ranking sites imo if you build a thin site less than 100 pages all linked from the index page, keyword focused with plenty of anchor links to it, the site will rank position 1 in Msn very easy.

Build a site with deeper content which is much more involved and it will struggle. Msn struggles with three / four keyword search strings unless the words are in the url example, find-me-here-now.com.

The search bot tends to top skim rather than deep index a site from what we have seen.

Regarding msn listening, clearly they are not!. I asked msn for help (as previously mentioned)regarding one of the sites we are involved with and not heard a thing since.

From what you say msn havent helped you either - great help!

So why bother starting a thread on a webmaster forum saying that "MSN are here and listening" perhaps msndude could tell us what the point of this is?

jamie




msg:1533163
 5:53 pm on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

hi msndude,

from a purely aesthetic point of view:

i think you should reduce the size of the std font (bold arial at 14px looks clumpy), and make the links bright blue. they look dull and unattractive to click on at the moment. (of course then it would look remarkably like G & Y ;)

you could put the pagination links at the top too - i often scroll down and then up again looking for a result i need, and find it annoying to have to scroll down again to click on the next page.

(for free advice on how to improve msn's business strategy and generally make it a better company please sticky me ;)

steveb




msg:1533164
 10:39 pm on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSNbot indexing is like a stone skipping on a lake. It just bounces across the surface most of the time. Skimming through search after search it is rare to find pages deeper into a directory structure, even regardless of linking.

MSN's conscious decision here is to be shallow, which again just highlights how its problems are in great part due to inept conceptual thinking about what a search engine is.

outland88




msg:1533165
 7:26 pm on Sep 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm still seeing the same spam sitting in the same place for the past four months which was reported to you MSN Dude. Guess nobody is listening.

crobb305




msg:1533166
 5:03 pm on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSN, do you guys see all the sites ranking well with nothing more than a spammy keyword-hyphenated url and Bulletin Board back-link spam? I imagine you do see it; but, are you gonna do anything about it?

You guys need to do some filtering, and for heaven's sake, a real update to get rid of this garbage. The regular everflux accomplishes nothing other than cause instability in the serps, with a site ranking on the first page one day, the 10th page the next, then back to the second page a day later.

Come on.

C

steveb




msg:1533167
 12:44 am on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

An interesting thing about MSN is the lack of any attempt at filtering... the lack of any massive, widespread change that results from an attempt to *do* anything. Like Google or not, they have some big changes that come from them trying to accomplish something (ignoring people's opinions whether they are good or ill goals involved). MSN has not had that, ever. There has never been one single attempt to rid the results of the sub-domain blog comment crap.

wordy




msg:1533168
 8:45 am on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Looks like MSN has resolved the bug/issue of publishing meta keywords in the snippet. It makes the results look much cleaner.

Nice job!

dcheney




msg:1533169
 9:27 am on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've got one main complaint about MSN search in regards to one of my sites. It is a large content rich site (non-commercial) in a fairly obscure niche. Because of the nature of the site, it contains a lot of uncommon proper full names. Most of those proper names have a full page providing the related details. But the site also contains a good number of internal directory pages to make those particular pages easier to find for someone browsing the site (i.e., a list of each proper name that fits category A).

Now the full page, in most cases, is the page the searcher is looking for.

Searching for the proper name in google, yahoo, and most other major search engines yields (usually) the full page as the first listing and some related page as the second (of the listings for my site).

The same search on MSN never finds the full page. It usually finds other related pages on my site, but not the full page. And its obvious from the snippets on MSN search that its not the page the searcher is probably looking for - which, imo, is why I get such a small amount of traffic from MSN (4% of SE referrals last month).

FYI, it does appear that MSNbot is deep crawling the site, so its not like it hasn't found the pages yet.

(I hope that isn't too confusing - the issue is the same for other sites in completely unrelated areas - and I'm trying to widgetize the problem :-)

I'd be happy to provide details via P.M. if that would be useful.

ramachandra




msg:1533170
 10:57 am on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Search Rank for one of the keyphrase say "Green Widget" shows on 15th position and if I search the same keyphrase in reverse like "Widget Green" ranks at 1st position.

I have optimised the page for keyphrase "Green Widget".

Any possibility that I might have mistaken somewhere in optimizing the page? Please reply your comments / suggestions.

Thanks

steveb




msg:1533171
 7:34 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Excellent post, dcheney. One of MSN's problems in a nutshell, which boils down to bad search engineering philosophy.

crobb305




msg:1533172
 8:33 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Serps never update to rank *quality* sites well. Rather, just more and more pages are being added to the top of the serps because of bbs/message board spam!

They do not filter anything do they? Horrible.

jrap




msg:1533173
 2:50 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I keep seeing more and more sites ranking in the top 5 that are doing blatant cloaking/redirecting.

crobb305




msg:1533174
 11:00 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Have they just given up? Stale serps except for new pages ranking from bbs spam. My sites have not even been given fresh tags in weeks.

mfishy




msg:1533175
 11:24 am on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

An interesting thing about MSN is the lack of any attempt at filtering... the lack of any massive, widespread change that results from an attempt to *do* anything.

Not really that interesting. They are still in their infancy, this is what I have seen occur with all se's. There were OBVIOUS ranking techniques that worked for google for literally 2+ YEARS some time ago and EVERYONE knew about them.

I think msn need to first get a handle on the core aspect of a search engine - properly crawling AND indexing pages before worrying about filters, after all, this seems like step one. After they get this part down, they can focus more on ranking "authority" type sites - this alone serves a purpose that will eliminate the need for too many filters (filters more often than not fail and leave massive collateral damage - see google).

After msn can index pages well, and rank authority sites better, THEN they can focus on filters and such. There is no reason to put band aids over the gaping wounds. Better to work on the core functions first. Better results will follow, surely, and fine tuning can be done from there. Putting a few filters up to stop some agressive webmasters will simply leave other aggressive webmasters in their place. The goal, IMO, is to find ways to effectively index and rank good sites...this is the challenge. Google did this and it worked for the most part. Focus on indexing and scoring first, next some filters...

<<added>>

Msndude, I would not take anything too personally, check out the yahoo and google forums and they are full of outright rage....maybe when/if you gain larger market share, more people will come out whining and moaning :)

steveb




msg:1533176
 8:45 pm on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Recognizing authority clearly requires the filting mentioned to take place concurrently. Obviously MSN now thinks 100k blog spam links is a good thing. They already judge this authority. They need to make *some* effort to recognize authority. Currently they do nothing at all, even the very simplistic thing of giving *some* weight to the dmoz or Yahoo Directories.

Finding authority means filting out pseudo-authority. 100k links from unrelated pages and less than ten links from related pages should trip some red flag somewhere.

(Also the idea of MSN being "new" now is absurd, imo. Ya spend twenty million advertising something, six months later, it ain't new anymore. It's a pre-beta engine, but not because of its newness.)

Garya




msg:1533177
 7:40 pm on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

What happen today on MSN. Results are getting worse. I see alot more spam sites or 1 page sites moving into the top positions.
There seems to be no sense to MSN maddness.
Time to start all over and go back to using Yahoo search results.
I guess you want more people to use pay per clicks.

disspy




msg:1533178
 10:02 am on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't now what to say, but it seems that MSN sucks in most cases, because most of webmasters reported bad site rankings on MSN. A year ago my well-optimized non-spammy sites had pretty good rating on MSN. MSN brought 50% of Google referrers and was second SE for my visitors. Right after first "modification" that MSN guys made to improve their SE, MSN referrers dropped rapidly on my stats. Now it's deep down on the list, lower then AOL (that also belongs to Google) ...

Bottom line ... forget about MSN ... Focus on Google and Yahoo!

Btw. I don't even believe this MSNDude is a M$ guy, it can be everyone or maybe some guy from WW who just want to make a big story here, hihihi ... who knows, because nobody can verify this, right?

MSNDude, how can we trust you and how can we really now that you are not just another FakeDude?

The Contractor




msg:1533179
 11:29 am on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Btw. I don't even believe this MSNDude is a M$ guy, it can be everyone or maybe some guy from WW who just want to make a big story here, hihihi ... who knows, because nobody can verify this, right?

They are verified....jeesh

Myself I'm happy that MSN stopped being fed from Yahoo. I believe they have a good start considering the age of their SE and they show no more "spam" than Yahoo does. I can easily see mirror domains taking the top 5 slots in Yahoo and they have been at this for years (about 10 commercially).

MSN Search needs to go deep and return deep pages in their results. I can search for certain terms that are on a site, yet it often returns the homepage that does not contain the terms at all. It's almost like they know the subject/page is on the site, but they return the homepage instead of taking the user directly to the page in question.

I don't get very much traffic via MSN on sites that even rank well with them. This is simply a demographic thing. MSN draws the non-techies more than any other engine, so if you have a site(s) that appeal to new users of the internet or non-techies then you would be well to follow them more closely.

Once MSN gets their kinks worked out they will start to draw a larger audience if they keep a clean interface.

Can anyone here state that Yahoo or Google results are the best they have ever been?

alwaysthinking




msg:1533180
 1:54 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

The Contractor - "MSN draws the non-techies more than any other engine"

PRECISELY THE PROBLEM - I think this fact dramatically illustrates Microsoft's problem. When the product of the #1 Tech Company in the world is shunned by the primary market that they have historically served - techies... points to some type short-coming in the MSN search product.

Anyone with a modicum of business aptitude would immediately target for investigation the glaring deficiency which you try to dismiss as "simply a demographic thing..."

Poppycock... it's failure to meet the performance expectation of MS primary market - those with sufficient technical skills which can discern inferior products.

disspy




msg:1533181
 9:04 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Today is Google's 7th Birthday ... and something weird is going on ...
[webmasterworld.com...]

Receptional




msg:1533182
 12:25 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Btw. I don't even believe this MSNDude is a M$ guy, it can be everyone or maybe some guy from WW who just want to make a big story here, hihihi ... who knows, because nobody can verify this, right?

I have vetted him and met him and he has spoken at WebmasterWorld conferences. As with Google guy, there is every possibility that MSNDude as a handle will develop into other staffers from MSN posting, but it IS MSN's official voice on WebmasterWorld.

Dixon.

The Contractor




msg:1533183
 1:08 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anyone with a modicum of business aptitude would immediately target for investigation the glaring deficiency which you try to dismiss as "simply a demographic thing..."

I don't believe that at all. You can never be all things to all people. Let's break down a couple of things the SE's offer:

Google
Their search is their main product if you want to call it that. Besides their search and the revenue from AdWords – what do they really have that hasn't been done before more successfully?
Google Earth - Google is just a knock-off of other products that are available for free.
Froogle – shopping engine which has been done to death and hasn't done well with any accuracy at all. I don't believe they get much use of that.
Google Directory – clone
Blogger – bought and paid for
Google Talk – just what we need, another IM client. Others products already provide voice, video, and IM among other things.
Desktop Search – this has been done better by others
Groups – bought and paid for. Yahoo gets much more traffic to their groups in my opinion although I didn't try to find stats.
Google News – nothing new here. All major SE's have the feature.
Gmail – MSN and Yahoo both are miles ahead in user base. What does Gmail offer the average person that the others don't?
AdSense – This is where they have actually developed something that is head and shoulders above anything else available. It will be tough for others to compete with in the near future.

Google Shortcomings
Of course they offer a lot of other products/services, but what product/service has been really innovative that appeals to the average user of the internet? Google has not been innovative at all. Their most used products besides search/AdSense have been bought and paid for or had already been done by others. They want to become a portal, but they seem confused on what direction to take or what the average user really wants.

What is Google really good at? PR spin. Microsoft has always been the giant that stepped on the little guy – buying up innovative products and technology and trying to squash the competition. I think in the very near future you will see the attitude change with Google being the target of this type of talk. They want to control all advertising dollars on the net…period.

MSN

MSN is a portal. They offer many things that are of interest to the average user. They offer areas covering all the main categories and items of everyday life including entertainment, news, finance, cars, real estate, travel, and much more. Their mail and IM along with other offerings have a user base. Do they offer anything "earth shattering"? No, but they have mass appeal as a portal for the average user. For a portal I believe their user interface at msn.com is much cleaner and easier to navigate over any other portal including Yahoo.

MSN Shortcomings

When was the last time anyone here really looked at MSN? They actually do a good job as a portal. They have by far the easiest to navigate site for their size and offerings. They have a problem with search, but regardless of what people state, it is new. Give them a couple years. The average user isn't going to notice any more spam in MSN search then they do at Google or Yahoo.

Yahoo

Also a true portal. Yahoo has a deep rooted following that use their portal for other things besides the SE. Look at their Financial forums etc. Again, they offer many things that are of interest to the average user. They also have a deep-rooted following for their IM and email offerings. They have come a long way in cleaning up their user interface and it makes it much easier to navigate the areas of the site.

Yahoo Shortcomings

Let's face it – for how long Yahoo has been involved with Search it should be miles ahead of the competition. They are not. Their serps are riddled with duplicate content and mirror sites more than any other major SE. So, why does no-one complain about their serps? They do more manual bans then any SE, so how come people only complain when their sites get hit in Google? I think it's much easier to get a site back into Google then it is Yahoo…

Let's face it, we want the SE's to rank authorative sites on the subject or term (well, most of us). That's a tough thing to do – judge authorative value of a site. As it stands with all the major SE I can create a 5000 page site on a topic, quote people that don't exist, quote facts that are untrue, fill it up with machine generated content, and get a few thousand links to the site and it should do pretty well. The problem is that the site is full of deception, but the perception is that it's authorative. This will always be a problem. It's easy to see how you can deceive a SE and you could probably even deceive a hand edit if done properly. That's why I cut all SE a little slack when they can't see the forest through the trees.

ska_demon




msg:1533184
 3:51 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK MSNdude

Can you tell me why 90% of my site is indexed but my index page cannot be found anywhere. It is not in your index. How can msn possibly provide good search results if they don't even index my homepage?

Also for my site name - now this really is a one off - There are many sites listed above the only page you deem fit to show for my site name. Trouble is, that page should never have been spidered according my robots.txt.

So from where I am sat msn do not have the most important page of my site and also their spider is ignorant!

I am actually more interested than annoyed as I have never relied on any SE alone for traffic. It just strikes me as quite odd.

Ska

The Contractor




msg:1533185
 4:20 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can you tell me why 90% of my site is indexed but my index page cannot be found anywhere. It is not in your index. How can msn possibly provide good search results if they don't even index my homepage?

I don't want to sound like a Microsoft cheerleader, but there are 1000's or 10's of 1000's of people that could ask the same question of Google or Yahoo. Do you really expect a response? Do you think Google or Yahoo would?

disspy




msg:1533186
 4:25 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>They want to become a portal, but they seem confused on what direction to take or what the average user really wants. <<

Well, dear contractor, I think you're wrong. I don't believe they (Google) want to become a portal. They have some similar-portal-look already (try google.com/ig). MSN and Yahoo are already on the web market from the www commercial beginnings and Google, within today, just 7 years :). They succeed a lot. I don't want to stay behind them because I'm frustrated right now and I'm totally against their latest update technique :O, but to be honest, Google wants to be the best SE NOT portal! Yahoo and MSN are trying hard to catch the SE standards made by Google, but their technology has most relevant SERPS, fastest results listing and largest website DB.

The question about innovations is the same by all giant companies. Do you think that Microsoft was the first company who created Word & Excel related applications? Hihi ... No they bought it, or they paid the idea! They bought the first DOS for $80k and sold it 10 months later to IBM for $180k! Of course, the M$Billy was (is still) a great businessman, not innovator. But talking about Google, I think their innovative SE technology improved the internet to high-tech platform, where search relevant information was/are just few parts of second away from users.

However, what they doing now seems to be just a giant corporation syndrome and everyone with such resources would do the same, moreover most of the people here on WW are greediest then all the rich guys from Google and M$ together :) (no bad feelings guys :P)

At the end, someone should shake the guys from Google so they can awake and see that the big crisis is coming and will swallow their marvelous SE, that means the competition never sleeps, and so better for all of us here on WW ;)

ska_demon




msg:1533187
 5:29 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't want to sound like a Microsoft cheerleader, but there are 1000's or 10's of 1000's of people that could ask the same question of Google or Yahoo. Do you really expect a response? Do you think Google or Yahoo would?

Contractor, I don't expect anything from anyone. My achievements are my own hard work. The way the SE's choose to rank my site along with everyone elses is entirely up to them. Each time I see a slump in traffic I do all I can to remedy the situation.

All I am saying is, do you not think it's a bit daft to list most pages bar the index? Surely the index page is the entrance to a good proportion of websites.

An example:If I was to rely on my highly branded domain to do well in the searches I would not expect to see 5 or 6 sites above me ranking for my brand and then see the SE choose a totally irrelevant page to represent my site. If I search for my brand I would expect to see the entrance to my site listed and not a links page or something. If you were looking in the phone directory for "bobs carpenters" and the write up said "call me for other carpenters phone numbers" ,would you use them? I doubt it. You want to see "bobs carpenters, the best and most reliable in your area".

Like I said, I just think it's a bit weird.

Ska

dcheney




msg:1533188
 5:41 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

ska_demon,

I agree with some of your points but not others.

In regards to the index pages - I see a large number of websites where the index page has little to no content. I don't know if that's an issue in the sites you are wondering about. For my sites, most folks aren't looking for my front page - they are looking for some specific info on one of the detail pages. I do make it easy for them to get to the index page if they want to - but I'd rather the SE sent them directly to the info they are seeking.

I'm not worried about whether my page is before others - I'm worried about its seleection of a page from my site where ever I does rank it. It never seems to pick the page(s) that are most appropriate for a given search term from within my site. It'll usually pick some page - but its one that doesn't make sense. For example, if I search for "Dark Green Widgets" instead of returning the full page dedicated to the specs and history of "Dark Green Widgets" it'll return a page on things made in Atlantis which happens to have "Dark Green Widgets" on the list.

SEOPimp




msg:1533189
 7:23 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSNDude

I have to say that although I hate comparing the search engines, it seems that MSN is the most inconsistent of all.
I do a daily search for my main keyword on all the search engines. Google and Yahoo show fairly similar results and display quality sites. But for some reason MSN results change dramatically on a daily basis. MSN shuffles around sites that deserve to be on the 15th page on the 1st page.
I would recommend you begin to show some consistency. It is very sad, when a consumer does a search one day and they can't find any similar sites the following day.

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