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This 128 message thread spans 5 pages: 128 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 > >     
We are here and we are listening.
MSN asks members on how the search algo can be improved.

 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?

- msndude



 4:39 am on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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.

I feel compelled to share my own personal experience with this. I did the above and found it to be a complete waste of my time. I sincerely wish anyone else the best of luck with reporting spam.

In defense of MSN Search, they ignore spam reports just the same way as the other major search engines do. Too bad, they are missing an opportunity to be truly different - and in my opionion, they need something that sets them apart.


 5:33 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't know what it is but that MNSbot loves to gobble away at my site, taking lots of BW with it. Enough to lead the spider pack by a margin of four to one. Doesn't do us any good as our MSN rankings are absolutely putrid.

I'll take our current page 1 Google and Yahoo positions everyday of the week. Don't care about MSN unless they'd calm their bot appetitie. What gives?


 6:04 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)


Our very large site is only about 10% indexed - up from 5% 2 months ago - is there anything to accelerate the process?

I'd recommend you find a way to make the excellent search builder "results ranking tool" more accessible in the search interface. As people become more informed about how engines rank sites this will allow them to effectively screen for desired content.

I personally really like the MSN search builder approach vs Yahoo's tool which weights for commercial content, but I'm guessing most would prefer the Yahoo approach since it's simpler to grasp though less precise than search builder.


 7:00 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

yes, i would like to add my hat to the "improve spidering" task as most important for msn. the results that are there are very good, just need more. of my 3 main sites (40,000 to 75,000 pages), msn seems to have between 6 and 9 % indexed. google is 100 and so is yahoo.


 7:05 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

a little more data on the lack of deep spidering...

the 3 sites that i mentioned all have lots of good backlinks and google pr of 5+.

the internal linking is clean with no?'s, session variables etc. - just clean html links that google and yahoo spiders just rip through.... not sure what the problem is with msnbot....


 4:06 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

wingslevel - I'm wondering if MSN has chosen to spider slowly on purpose in an effort to slow spamming and scraper proliferation in their index while it gets going.


 6:37 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

start.com did not return my search that i used and it went slow trying to find results. maybe i did something wrong?


 6:50 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

tictoc - I just tried again and also had problems with slowness and "no results" for common searches.


 8:25 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think the serach algorithm might be improved by doing some more research into the "nature" of the search query, before applying the algorithm. If the search is "widgets" this is very broad, suggesting that it is looking for encyclopedia type sites or news results. If it is "Widget price" it is a research query and is therefore looking for ecommerce sites.

The mentality of the user is very different between these two searches, and most likely, so is the mentality of the people building the sites to try to get into your serps.

Does the default Algo vary much, depending on the probably intention of the surfer? If not, this might explain the polarity I see between people loving and people hating the results.


 9:35 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi msndude - thanks for taking the time out to listen to our concerns.

I wouldn't say that msn is entirely bad. You're very efficient at crawling and adding pages to your index (so you're better than Yahoo on that), and new sites don't suffer any form of sandbox (so you're better than Google on that).

The problem is just with your results. I can't quite put my finger on why it happens, but a search in MSN just doesn't provide me with the results I'm after. To be honest, it looks like it favours poorly optimised, poorly linked in sites, over big sites that you'd expect to see at the top of the SERPs.

I'll try and give you a few examples of the strange things that I've seen it do:

(1) Subdomains
I don't know what it is about subdomains, but MSN seems to love them. If I have a well established domain, www.widget.com, PR 7, and it has a subdomain, widget.widget.com, PR 2, MSN would rather rank my site for it's core terms under the subdomain.

(2) Ranking on the homepage
If I create a page on a site that I optimise for Widgets. I get external links with link text Widgets to that page. I link it in with link text Widgets from my homepage (which otherwise has no mention of the term Widgets). If you search for Widgets, then you'd expect my Widgets page to rank. So why does MSN always rank the homepage instead, based on the 1 instance of Widgets link text on there?

(3) Sitemaps
Another random thing I've seen is sitemaps ranking. Imagine that I have a transport site that has 3 pages that are optimised for Widgets to Location1, Widgets to Location2, Widgets to Location3, and these are all linked with respective link text from the sitemap. If I search for Widgets to Location1, rather than that page ranking, the sitemap ranks.

I think my opinion is that MSN loves keyword density. Therefore, sort out a subdomain called widget.widgets-widget.com, add Widgets as much as possible to your homepage title and the homepage content, and you'll be sorted for #1 position for Widgets in MSN. Until this is sorted, there's going to be a lot of poor results cropping up in your SERPs.

Thanks for taking the time to listen - your feedback is much appreciated.


 9:44 am on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi MSNDude!

One thing I have noticed and I dont know if this effects normal searches too.

If I do a site:www.example.com search I get results which say 1 of 142 results - and then I click the next button and it goes to say 2 of 4000 results. So are some results ommitted from the search (delibrately or accidentally?)

And if so does this sometimes happen on the normal search (some pages accidentally ommitted) - I sure do sometimes search for a page and just cant believe it is not in the first few pages of results.

And also (and I know other SEs do this) - If you have a site map page that links to XYZ Product this so often comes up before the page which contains the product it is frustrating :)

And of course better crawling.

I would really like to see some traffic from MSN - cant wait for at least a three horse race.




 6:38 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for taking interest in our opinions...

I'm not sure why others have this problem, but MSN seems to be best at indexing my site. They get new pages up and ranking quite quickly - very positive when I am tarketing topics that are largely ignored by others.

On the down side, your count of index pages appears to be inflated. Of course this is only of concern to webmasters, but Google says I have 985 pages, MSN says 2,500 and Yahoo says 860. I did a quick count the other day, the site has roughly 990 pages. So it seems MSN has an inflated count.

At one time it seemed the SE had more trouble with deep pages. Pointing to the wrong page at times (one with a broader topic, not specific to a search), but I see less of this lately.

Personally, I see a very positive trend with MSN results and I'm not saying that because it sends me the most traffic (because it doesn't).

I agree with the earlier comments on spamming. I've all but given up on sending in reports because they don't seem to do any good.


 8:46 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for posting a feedback thread, msndude.

There was a thread a while back about publishing meta keywords data. Why is this happening? It certainly doesn't enhance the MSN results when they appear.


 9:08 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Perhaps using the domain expiry date (taken from the registry WHOIS database) can help cut down on spam? Most spammers aren't going to register their domains for 5 or 10 years, as it will raise their costs.

I believe Google already does this (that's one of the reasons they are a domain registrar).

Given the large number of domain names Microsoft owns, it could make sense to consolidate them at their own private registrar, too (makes it a lot harder for others to steal Microsoft domain names, also).


 9:12 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I like the results from MSN the last hmm 2-3 month finaly there is a SE that shows different results then google and Yahoo which most of the time look the same, always the same sites in the results.

A thing that is a little pain is that the page count is totaly out of order, like the first few pages on a site:thedomain.com search it says 1000 pages then a few pages in the search it says 250, also in such a search I mostly just see 25 pages of the site indexed.

A thing that I also think is good at MSN, is that you dont get a top spot just because of links to you, which is the case in google.

MSN also realy have freash results, it dont take a year to get indexed.


 9:15 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I find the results terrible for 3 word searches - unless I put quotes around the 3 words e.g. "red widget websites".


 9:18 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have to say you have a great search engine in the making.. Most of the people complaining don't really understand how hard it is to create such an engine...

Of course you can get rid of spam by implementing a sandbox or putting age filters in place...... Some of the people complaining are the same that complain that their sites get wiped out by Google and Yahoo when they implement their super strict filters...

Spam is a problem on ALL search engines... Google has what I coin "Authority Spam".. this is where a news type site can put a page "some-high-paying-keyword.html" and get it ranked in top 10 in days.

I don't see this in your engine. You seem to have level the playing field and give all pages equal treatment. That same page would compete with home pages dedicated to this keyword... It ranks where it should.. Nowhere...

Keep up the good work... One thing I would say you need to implement a better "cloaking filter".


 9:32 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for posting a feedback thread, msndude.

There was a thread a while back about publishing meta keywords data. Why is this happening? It certainly doesn't enhance the MSN results when they appear.


 9:40 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSNdude, thanks for the chance to speak out.

I'd like to echo a comment by Uber_SEO about results turning up the home page rather than a deeper page that is more relevant.

With my site, you often send visitors looking for "small red widgets" to my "red widgets" entry page, rather than my "small red widgets" page. Often, visitors opt out right then, so I consider that a real problem.

Also, there sometimes seems to be more emphasis on internal link anchor text than on page content. For example, if someone were looking for a movie soundtrack and one of the songs on that soundtrack was by a particular artist - MSN might refer to the artist's page rather than the soundtrack page, though the site has both, based on an internal link on the artist's page. I hope that makes sense.

In any case, the problem overall is visitors don't get to the page they need and, therefore, their experience is not as good as it could be.


 9:42 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wow, people are upset that start.com doesn't work in opera but it doesn't even work in IE 6! Try playing around with the "columns +/-" a little.

Incidentally, two days ago I had my first ever searching experience where Google was worse than another engine-- I was searching for a very specific b2b service and couldn't find anything on Google, so I went to msn and found at least a dozen good companies that provide the service, nicely ranked.


 10:01 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just searched for a key phrase to find 7 of the top 10 results belong to the same company. All are keyword url's for different products and all are interlinked. No content to speak of. This happens far too often.


 10:06 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

IHO for the cleaner searches MSN are doing a great job.

As an example, I launched a site for a parish council in the UK. Very uncompetitive (other than the wife swap sites adwords bidding on any village names :P) it's the offical site commissoned by the parish council, and trying to ignore any SEO knowledge I might have, I submitted to and was listed by DMOZ and a couple of gov.uk sites which I assummed would be enough to rank at least on the first page for that village name search ([village name]) - after all it's the offical parish council site. (Y! #5 MSN #1 Google #200+.)

MSN (and Yahoo) rank the site on the first page for most related searches, which I'd think makes sense.

IMHO...as for improvements to MSN, weight of domain name, on page stuff (h1, anchors, etc) is a bit more heavily weighted than the others - and of course spotting the auto gen sites.


 10:14 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you search for something at msn.co.uk, the results default to sites that are hosted in the UK or have a UK top level domain.
So why does the "Only from United KIngdom" checkbox even exist?

Surely if this is not checked, then the results should be similar to MSN.com?
The checkbox does not serve any purpose at the moment.


 10:26 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I love MSN. It indexes and updates sites fast. It's predictable. It shows back links. There's a little spam (at least the spam is relevant!) but the other search engines have just as much spam or more in addition to all sorts of bizarre filters that end up negatively effecting legitimate content sites.

Just keep it (MSN) fast and clean, that's the trick I think.


 11:01 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

glitterball - Yes why dont you do it like google, when they want results only from UK then click the link or check the box or other.


 11:08 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

The depth of coverage is what lets MSN down, as it makes it less likely obscure searches will be found. There's plenty of crawling, but few of the crawled pages are ever indexed.

For example one of my sites has 1.6 million pages indexed at Google (310,000 cached). MSN has 620 pages from the site.

This is for a site where the majority of the pages have been stable for a year, and where over 3,000 pages are crawled by MSNbot every day.

Google finds the site thousands of times a day with almost as many different search terms and entry pages. MSN sends me 30 visitors, because far less search terms are found because very few pages are indexed.

I have another similar, more recent, site where again MSN crawls thousands of pages all day long every day but only indexes a tiny fraction of a percent of them, compared to the hundreds of thousands indexed (and found in searches) at Google.

What decides which crawled pages are indexed? If you've gone to the bother of crawling a page, it might as well be used in the index. Seems a real waste of resources for everybody otherwise.


 11:14 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would also like to echo Uber_SEO's comment about web sites' home pages ranking above the actually articles based on a single link from the home page.

I see this a lot, especially when adding new content to an already established web site.


 11:29 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSN is too easy to spam to get results. It places too much value on number of links, and not on anchor text. The result, sites with heaps of incoming links, rank No.1 for a topic they barely cover.

Example on duplicte content, type Byron Bay into msn and see the duplciate results


 11:45 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)


I love MSN results but not all the time. Just by example, how can an only text single page site rank no. 1 for a very competitive term? No links, no nothing, just a single page with meaningless text, only two baclkinks. This makes a really bad impression for MSN as the search term is a single word name for a country, so I imagine a lot of people see this bizare result every day. The rest of the sites in the results page seem to have good relevance to the term but what with no. 1? I don;t think the site owner ment this for spam as there is not a single link on the page, so what could she/he gain? Does the MSN algo rely only on on page text?

If you would like more details please reply here or sticky me. I hate it when I try to help search engines with relevance and turns out as a waste of time.

Thanks for listening

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