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This 150 message thread spans 5 pages: < < 150 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 > >     
MSN Search SERPs Latest Changes: What's Good and What's Bad?

 12:20 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Never seen such garbled up nonsense, not "spammy" per say, but generally irrelavant and just bizarre. Someone pushed the wrong button over there.

Search for <snip> - 9 of the top 10 is <snip>.com....almost all serps seem to look pretty much this way...url only titles and just poorer than ever.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 7:34 pm (utc) on Feb. 16, 2006]
[edit reason] I bet even <snip> itself has bad results ;) [/edit]


Robert Charlton

 5:57 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

In the limited searches I've tried, I'm seeing generally good results. Hadn't paid enough attention to what was there previously to compare to say definitively whether this is a rollback or more than a rollback. The ultra-long url that's returned on one search I noted is still #1, and it still breaks the table structure of the serps page.


 6:04 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I see a rollback as well! Good work MSN!


 6:24 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually, whatever these SERP's are, they are not exactly what they were just prior to the mess. It's sorta hard to tell with MSN, since their SERP's bounce around daily, but there are some important changes, i.e., sites on page one I've never seen there before, others falling off that have been there for a while. The overall effect on our sites seems to be a wash (thru all three phases of this: pre-mess, mess, and post-mess), these results today look a little better and less spammy than we've seen before. Maybe what we witnessed was indeed an interum stage as fearless leader speculated.


 6:28 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yes, I don't think this was a rollback actually now that I have checked my niche keywords. My sites are back to where they were but there are some new ones around mine now that are just as relevant as mine that were not there before. MSN must not have completed their new algo update before publicizing it and finally got it right. In my niche these serp's are better than Google's with respect to relevancy.


 7:24 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is a change or a rollback. Less based on keywords in domains. Domain name is less important comparing to used to be. Search.com & local.com are not at the top for search & local terms, respectively.


 8:24 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Utterly pathetic.

Create keywords subdomains, spam blogs, rule the pitiful MSN spam engine.

As god awful as those other results were, they were probably still superior to these roled back ones. At least those other ones seemed almost random. The rolled back ones remain universally miserable (if the terms are really targeted by anyone) in how one simpleton tactic works.


 8:35 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Looks like changes have been made HOWEVER, for one of our sites, we noticed tha the first 9 results are all from one site.

The homepage is # 1, # 2-9 are all subdomains from the same site.

what the heck is going on?


 11:31 am on Feb 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Did we speak too soon? I see a return of all those subdomains into the top 10 (finance sector).



 4:05 pm on Feb 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

It has changed since yesterday. For one of my keywords the SERPS now look quite reasonable. For another it still shows the same mess of subdomains and other clutter.

Correction rolling out?


 1:00 am on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just a hunch but do you think the new rollout has to do with the US holiday and using this time in testing? Google is greatly known for testing over US holidays. You have to believe these results won't last. It almost entices me to get into Domain Spam. The only problem is, MSN has no real "click through" traffic in the organic SERPs to make it worth it.

If I may quote David Lee Roth: "Big Bad Bill (Gates) is sweet William now." These results spark zero fear in the industry.




 1:58 am on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's not a major holiday. Mostly banks and Federal Government Agencies. I doubt we even see a significant drop in traffic tomorrow. I think MSN is just a mess and they know it.


 1:12 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Major holiday or not, I have the day off and I'm going boarding! MSN is a complete mess - you would think after a year they would get it. Unreal.




 5:34 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hello All,

We did roll out an improvement to RankNet just a few hours before the thread started (you guys are quick!), but the tests we used to qualify that net did show a small improvement. We saw the negative responses on WebmasterWorld almost immediately, but our own personal “sanity-test” queries (mostly technical and scientific) worked fine, so we assumed it was just a few people grousing about their over-optimized sites getting hit. However, as time passed and the thread continued to be a) very busy and b) nearly 100% negative, it became clear that something was wrong. Deeper evaluation revealed that the problem was in the qualification test itself.

We rolled back to the old net after only about 48 hours. The new one might have been up considerably longer if you guys hadn’t been so vocal so quickly.

So we’d like to thank all of you for your feedback – no matter how negative it was.

On another note we did roll out some other changes as part of the release and thankfully we have not had the need to roll those back :) Here is a summary of some of the more visible changes that we made or changes that you all would likely detect.

User Experience: We lightened up and streamlined the UX a bit. Thanks for the positive feedback on this: [#*$!.com...] Isn’t the super-sized search bar at search.msn.com also refreshing?! That is a big search bar and it makes a big difference :)

Snippets / Contextual Descriptions: We made some changes to how we create contextual descriptions / snippets for pages. One clearly visible change is that we are now doing hit-highlighting in the title. We also have more subtle improvements around using page structure to get a true summary of the page. A decent example of this at: [search.msn.com...] or [search.msn.com...] You will notice that the descriptions tend to read like real sentences. This was not always the case.

Depth of crawl: Over the past month or so we rolled out an improvement that will allow us to crawl high quality domains more deeply. We are generally pretty content with the improvements we have seen. We still have a lot of work we want to do to improve our selection, however, this is a step forward. If you have any feedback on this in terms of what you are seeing on your end we would love to hear it.

Keep the feedback coming.

- msndude(msd) with input from the techy RankNet folks


 5:39 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for coming in on the thread MSNDude.

Glad that depth of crawling is being addressed - hopefully improvements in this area will continue.

In another thread I pointed out that at the moment I cant get past page 25 of results - are you aware of this - or is it just me? Something to look at perhaps.

Another thing I cant understand is that pages that appear in a site:domain.com search dont appear in a normal serp search for the keyword - even if I go to the end of all results - as if the page disappears - would you like examples of this?


 6:11 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for updating.

One thing which is still bothering me most is that the first page in some finance searches contains only one site.
This can be done with a single entry and "More results from www.anysite.com"


 6:26 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Good call, posting some feedback here MSNDude. It's appreciated I am sure.

Just a gentle reminder - we don't encourage links to blogs - except maybe yours and Google Guy's ;) - Your post didn't even need manual intervention to get expleted out!

Yep - the guys here are quick. You could give us an hour's warning and you'd have a running commentary as the rollout goes live. People who make their livings out of providing the most relevent content for the most relevent search query (and those making a living providing the top result regardless of relevency!) aren't going to hang around until the dust settles... even if they should at times imho! so when a factor changes in our environments, people all over the world are on your case quite quick.

Thanks again for pitching in and giving the feedback MSNDude. Revising that search quality testing is something I am sure the guys here would have a view on as well if you wanted to put such a thread into the field...



 6:58 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Excellent MSNDude. Thanks for the update.


 7:57 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)


Those searches I sent you last week (per your request) are still showing ALL subdomains with the same spammy title.

Are these going to be removed?

King of all Sales

 8:34 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

What a breath of fresh air!

It's nice to know there's at least one search engine that's listening and reacting to feedback. Thanks!


 10:07 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Some evidence of a new depth of crawl would be nice. Still absolutely zero evidence of it.

The results themselves are of course shameful.

There is more to life than exact match of duplicate subdomains.

(and I'm still wondering how MSN can list a non-www URL that hasn't been accessible since before the search engine existed)


 10:10 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for responding MSNdude.

I noticed that only the top 250 results are shown for searches as well, Dayo_UK.


 10:29 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Lots of negative feedback in this thread; sounds like there must be some problems in some topic areas, but in the particular area I monitor, the MSN SERPs are far superior to those of Yahoo, and often are nearly as good as those of Google (better, if you take into account Google's tendency to filter out, and/or push down, new/not yet proven sites).


 12:13 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Honestly I think MSN's results are better than Google's in some respects. I am thankful MSN reverted back to the SERP's they had before that ridiculous update and very thankful for MSNDudes input. It's also quite nice to see that MSN cares what we think. Does Google do that?! NO! After all we are the ones making the sites they index, shouldn't we have some input?!

Also I have noticed deep crawls and some serp's I monitor are producing deep level result sets which in most cases helps the end user really find what they are after. It definetely is not conducive when you see a site's default index page ranking for something that is 5 levels deep in the site.

Thumbs up MSN, your headed in the right direction!


 12:38 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>We lightened up and streamlined the UX a bit.

I realize this is cosmetic, but I like it - much improved.

I'm also glad to see a SE take interest in the comments here. Clearly there were some results that just were not reasonable.

Thanks for listening.


 1:59 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Cheers msndude! Many thanks for the informative response.

One thing which has bothered me for a very long time when using MSN to search is how far off the results can be when the order of the keywords being searched for means the difference between good and very bad results. I wish I could provide specific search terms here, but its against the TOS for WebmasterWorld.

For example:

The following is not a real search terms folks ... its just an example because I can't use a real one!

A search for "miss muffet" serves up results for "muffet miss".

The searcher was looking for pages relating to the nursery rhyme but instead gets results for a bakery in Dudangania. Its frustrating!

MSN needs to have a good long look at how it evaluates and interprets the order of keywords in a specific search.

There are all sorts of marinas where I live, there is also an island actually named "marina something". If you search for the island on MSN ... you have to dig deep to find it even though the word "marina" comes first in the island name and all marinas here have the word marina second in their names. So why can't a simple thing like the order of keywords used by a surfer be addressed?

I have sent a feedback form giving a specific search phrase for what its worth!


 2:15 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

In reply to your question below: limiting users to the top 250 results is by design. Is this an actual end user need or more a question about gathering intelligence data :)?


Thanks for coming in on the thread MSNDude.

Glad that depth of crawling is being addressed - hopefully improvements in this area will continue.

In another thread I pointed out that at the moment I cant get past page 25 of results - are you aware of this - or is it just me? Something to look at perhaps.

Robert Charlton

 2:19 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

...but our own personal “sanity-test” queries (mostly technical and scientific) worked fine...

msndude - Thanks for your feedback. It strikes me that this may provide a clue to some of MSN's quality problems. I'm glad you listened and made the adjustment you did. Current results are also superior, I think, to what you had a week or two ago.

But results in scientific areas are not likely to be spammed to the extent that you'll see in the more competitive commercial areas. I think that MSN really needs to beef up things like link quality evaluation. To do this, you're not going to able to apply one-algo or one-sanity-test fits all to the entire web.

See a brief exchange on MSN quality evaluation (with regard to your very bad results of last week) in this thread [webmasterworld.com] between Receptional and me. I mention in msg #24...

The thought hit me the other night that they might be varying their results to test out various parameters and then trying to use some automated measure of user satisfaction to feed back into the system and readjust the algo... in other words, sort of a combination of #1 and #3, but perhaps with some randomization thrown in.

As I was spinning my wheels about this, one of the things I wondered about was whether, if they did this, they were topic-area specific, or whether they might be applying an "algo" derived from an overall web sampling to every topic area (or, vice-versa).

It appears that you'd done the "vice-versa"... ie, taken a sampling of satisfaction from a small topic area and applied it to the whole web.

Your algo of a couple of weeks ago, it seems, had cranked up the anti-optimization measures so high that it was discriminating against classically optimized pages on reputable sites and showing a lot of random junk instead. I'm pleased to see what you have now, but long-term, I think, you folks need to do better.


 3:57 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

MSNDude said:
but our own personal “sanity-test” queries (mostly technical and scientific) worked fine

That is how you tested? Seriously? I was a software tester for 9 years before getting into SEO and if we would have done our testing like that, we would have been fired.

This is not a step forward. Searches for VERY common items bring up a huge amount of domain spam. This is not complaining against any of our sites getting hit with this update. Honestly, we get such little referral traffic from your engine that isn't the case. We want to see you do well. We need the competition for Google and Yahoo! not have the power they do ... a ban from Google these days nearly does in a web-based business.

It has been a year since you have released your engine and this is the state it is in?

Disappointed and in the need of a Waborita.



 8:45 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>> Is this an actual end user need or more a question about gathering intelligence data?

Lol - to see my pages so intelligence data then :) - unlikely many users would want to go beyond page 25 :)

Fair enough if you stop at 25 pages. I would have thought from a user point of view it would be better to take the links to page 26,27,28,29 out and take out the next link when you get to the 25 page - but that is just cosmetic.


 11:27 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

the results realy looks clean again and the new design is also ok, sometimes I think MSN is missing a little cofidence in there SE, things has gone a lot better the last 6 month, ok we had a big glitch here last week, but they fixed it within 48 hours, try to get google to fix anything not related to there own site in the index or the 302 link bug it has been over a year, so MSN be happy you are on a great way and soon Vista will be out also, then you will get your boost in searches.


 3:14 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Zeus, again I say: subdomain spam.

1. Create a subdomain with spammy title
(be sure to use eye-catching symblols, exclamation marks, arrows, etc)
2. Spam thousands of blogs and guestbooks
3. Rank well.
4 Repeat 1 - 3 on a new subdomain using similar spammy title.

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