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MSN Search SERPs Latest Changes: What's Good and What's Bad?
mfishy




msg:1532906
 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]

 

crobb305




msg:1533026
 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.

cabowabo




msg:1533027
 3:30 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Amen Crobb!

I don't understand how people can say the results are cleaner. They are a mess, MSN knows it, and it is clear from the comments from MSN employees on this forum that they have no clue how to test. And that is what is most disappointing.

The most humerous comment was their surprise how fast we jumped on this update. They just don't understand the brilliance of incrediBill, yourself and others here at WebmasterWorld.

I'll say what others have thought but not said, the reason why MSN is in the state that it is in is because the people Microsoft has hired are clearly the wrong people.

The right people would have never allowed for subdomain spam to dominate the SERPs.

Cabo

zeus




msg:1533028
 3:46 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

crobb I saw the subdomain problem when they had the messy results, but not that much anymore, still I would say it looks pretty ok and Im not focussing on my sites, I like that we see different results that on google or yahoo on the first 2 pages.

BillyS




msg:1533029
 4:11 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>Deeper evaluation revealed that the problem was in the qualification test itself.

The fact that MSN is willing to admit they've got more work to do is a great first step. I don't think the engine has even reached its first birthday yet.

Don't shoot the messenger. In case you haven't noticed, this type of feedback and insight is more than we're getting anywhere else on this forum.

cabowabo




msg:1533030
 6:09 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

FYI: MSN went live on Feb. 1, 2005 ... so they are just barely over the one year mark.

crobb305




msg:1533031
 6:41 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think they need to re-evaluate how backlinks are used to calculate rankings, and let the backlinks from more significant/authority pages count more, rather than letting any-ole backlink count (and letting pages with "the most" backlinks rank highest). It seems that a subdomain can rank #1 just by getting thousands of insignificant backlinks from blogs or guestbooks.

MSN already does a good job of ranking backlinks based on importance (using link: search). They need to start using this information in the rankng of webpages under search terms. If they already are, they aren't doing a good job. If a page has handful of links from authority sites, that should count more than a page with all backlinks originaing from spam/blogs/guestbooks.

c

pmac




msg:1533032
 7:16 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>>insignificant backlinks from blogs or guestbooks

Thats not just a problem that is msn's. All the engines struggle with sorting good links from bad. MSN has far bigger issues than just comment spam.

Anyway, I must say that I found it refreshing that they came out and admitted the problem of the past index shuffle and for the most part reverted back to an index that still has its problems, but is far better than what we saw a few days ago.

MLHmptn




msg:1533033
 8:55 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Realistically, what is an authority link?! And how does any search engine constitute what is an authority?!

steveb




msg:1533034
 10:16 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Realistically, what is an authority link?!"

Seriously, how can you ask that? If you yourself can't recognize a genuine authority link in whatever niches you have websites, become a shoe salesman while you still can.

Unfortunately msndude's comments reflect the clueless, rudderless ship problems with MSN search. It is simply staggering that someone would judge the quality of the results based on searches where no one is trying to rank! Boggle boggle boggle.

18th century ethiopian history
brings up decent results. No one creates thousands of multi-keyword subdomains for 18th century Ethiopian history. Spitting up decent search results for that term is no challenge at all, and nothing to be proud of... and certainly nothing to use as a judge of the serp quality.

Looking at a term someone does want to spam, 19 of the top 20 are subdomain spam built on blog comment links. The fact that MSN doesn't recognize the humiliation of having such a "search engine" is the worst part of it. This horrible mess is a disgrace to the company and people involved.

crobb305




msg:1533035
 10:35 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thats not just a problem that is msn's. All the engines struggle with sorting good links from bad

I realize that my suggestion a few posts up may be easier said than done. But, MSN is the only engine I
use where the first two pages of results for a major 2-word financial phrase is all subdomain spam. Somehow, Google and Yahoo have managed to not have this problem for this phrase. Maybe they are doing something right (although they are not perfect either). Something has to change at MSN. Re-evaluating how they count backlinks, such that comment spam is minimized, is a first step.

RichTC




msg:1533036
 10:54 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Steveb

Understand your frustration with msn but to be fair at least they have reacted to that garbage that was churned out recently and rolled it back.

Whilst the results are far from perfect they are better than they were. I dont see the sub domain issues mentioned - where subs rank in the sectors we watch thy are on topic and not spam so i dont have an issue with that.

The depth of index from the bot has been a MAJOR issue imo. Previously they were just not able to get the content its as simple as that. Its not untypical for quality large sites to only get 5% of their site in the index so i have always had an issue with how cr@p their search bot is - now they say they are improving that, we will just have to see, i havent seen any evidence to convince me yet but time will tell.

I agree with you over the test examples used but again thy have reacted to how bad it was after they rolled out the new search algo so hopefully they wont make the same mistake again.

The good news is that it looks like they dumped that crazy idea about using out of date DMOZ descriptions, thank gawd for that! - if ever a prize should have been given for the most stupid search engine idea it would have been for that one!

Finally, its now to early to call if they can get it right for the future but if they can get the bot to start deep indexing large sites thats going to be a major start.

Rich

RichTC




msg:1533037
 1:17 am on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

FAO MSN DUDE

You state you are doing something about your bot deep indexing but i would like to give you an example from the stats of a large website so you can see how bad it is currently.

This is an example of your current search bot activity on a large site V other search engine bot activity - Hope this helps!.

Period 1-20th Feb

Googlebot 1,010,724 Hits
Inktomi Slurp 384,792 Hits
wisenutbot 34,035 Hits
Gigabot 18,221 Hits
Askjeeves 16,432 Hits
psbot 11,221 Hits
msnbot 9,024 Hits
alexa 5,884 Hits
udmsearch 3,889 Hits
voyger 1,220 Hits
Nomad 884 Hits
Others 12,889

As you can see its being out performed by minow search engines like gigabot and is almost as inactive as alexa.

We see a similar pattern on other sites we work on

I think if you sort your search bot deep indexing technology out you may be half way to producing some quality serps.

Good luck

steveb




msg:1533038
 1:55 am on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

"at least they have reacted to that garbage that was churned out recently and rolled it back."

That was not a good thing. The results out briefly were bad no doubt, but at least they were inconsistent, random even. The current results, the results they have had for months and months, are simply godawful in how they can be so simplistically spammed. The rollback represents not an improvement or a good thing, but rather a negative acceptence that they simply can't do anything. Better to take the reandom results and try to build on that, rather than keep the pathetic spam pile they have had.

Rotten is bad, but different rotten has something to be said for it.

King of all Sales




msg:1533039
 2:33 am on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm really mystified by your rant Steveb

In our sector, MSN is showing very good results. Sure, there are some spammers, but they are not at the top as they are right now on Google.

In fact, Google has lifted the most notorious spammers in our industry from obscurity to the top of the serps.

dclick




msg:1533040
 2:56 am on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

<snip>

As far as I know they arent hand edited results either.

i agree that the serps defenitely need some work, especially for: high profile keywords - subdomains - blog/comment spam.. Especially for high profile keywords.

Im sure hopefully msndude has taken note i hope of this, and is looking into it. hey at least they are reading the comments and taking notes. Thats a plus as far as im concerned.

But for many terms, on msn, its not as bad at all as the complainers are making it out to be as far as im concerned.

To say the results are aweful, that they dont care, incompetent or arent trying and in many ways putting out a professional product sounds like sour grapes to me.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 10:38 pm (utc) on Feb. 23, 2006]

newwebster




msg:1533041
 3:37 am on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you knew what Steve B was looking at you might be more understanding of what his observations are about. The spamming is bad in his sector.

However, in my niche there is not much spamming going on so the resutls (now that they are rolled back)are as good if not better than google's.

steveb




msg:1533042
 7:31 am on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

C'mon, there aren't any areas that aren't spammed to hell in MSN if someone tries. Again, in areas no one tries to heavily spam, the results can be useable but that isn't anything to pay attention to. If someone tries, the results become a complete joke. That exposes the fundamental weakness of the engine.

MLHmptn




msg:1533043
 7:45 am on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)


"Realistically, what is an authority link?!"
Seriously, how can you ask that? If you yourself can't recognize a genuine authority link in whatever niches you have websites, become a shoe salesman while you still can.

That was a poor choice of words I said there. Sorry for that SteveB. I should have more or less said where do you draw the line on what we all call authority sites? Of course manufacturers and such are authorities but after that, what is an authority site? Might as well be any of us because we all feel we are an authority on our subjects. Yes/No? And for me to get a link from some of my manufacturers would be like asking GM, Ford and Chrysler for links....

It would just be nice to understand exactly what "authority site" means is all I'm saying.

crobb305




msg:1533044
 5:50 pm on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I should have more or less said where do you draw the line on what we all call authority sites?

The system will never be perfect. But the algorithms can be programmed to look for quality signals, and weed out comment spam. The first step is to get rid of the comment spam backlinks. This shouldn't be a difficult task. Most of these "pages" have common characterisitcs that can be easily identified algorithmically.

C

SmartMoney




msg:1533045
 7:11 pm on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

MSN dude,

thanks for jumping in.

I really like the new look of your search page [search.msn.com] but a couple tweaks that would improve the user experience:

1. Default the focus to the search box
2. Make the "Search" button the default for when the user hits enter [not the "search type" drop down like it is now]

I should be able to arrive at your page, start typing and press enter...just like at the other search engine with the G in their name.

followgreg




msg:1533046
 1:14 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)


>>Steveb try to be a little more objective, your rent is about your own website period. Now if as you say ranking high on MSN is that easy why don't you do it?

This being said I understand that some industries are spammed over and over again but not only MSN is affected but Google as well. (I am not even talking about Yahoo because I don't even consider this website as a search engine, it's a catastrophe of hand-coded results and low-end algorithmic circus + waste of bandwidth)

Subdomains are a problem
The weight of certain links seems to be misplaced
Certain sites have not well crawled then while niche authorities they can not make it to the first page easy to crawl type of websites with a spammy keyword density find their way to the top. There must be something to improve SERP other than using DMOZ inclusion as a quality factor. Size of the site, unique content development, growing rate, popularity increase rate seem to be missing factors sometimes and/or no so many spam filters are applied.

ANYHOW :) the new design is good, FINALLY - not great but likely to more people searching over and over again...one search query should be enough though :)

It's far from perfection from my standpoint and even though I am going totally crazy when I see some spam results, overall MSN is getting real close to Google (again Yahoo is a lost cause) quality - With a little more smart filters and some additional design improvements it could be competing with G faster than expected IMO -
Still there are a few 'usability' issues where Google guys are being smarter and that surprises me, MSN has all the budget and means to have focus groups and perform extensite testing >> Stupid example: I stopped using the MSN search toolbar because I could not drag and drop my stuff! Can't you guys think about these things? :)

steveb




msg:1533047
 3:51 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't know where that silly objective sentence came from, but as usual I have no idea why people waste our time with comments about how they rank or how results are good because they rank good. That's all just babbling blather.

As much as some people here hate to be objective, that is the only way to actually understand this business. I personally do just fine on MSN, in large part because the results are so poor that users seem to click far deeper than with Google or Yahoo (meaning that while a #1 on MSN may be only 20% as good as a #1 on Google, a #9 on MSN is better than a #9 on Google). But despite the fact that I do just fine, I'm not dopey enough to post about how great it is to have 19 duplicate subdomains rank in the top 20.

crobb305




msg:1533048
 4:04 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

As much as people here hate to be objective, that is the only way to actually understand this business.

Exactly. Seems when someone ranks well, especially in a relatively unspammy niche, then the search results are flawless. Do a search for <snip>. I am completely flabbergasted at the amount of subdomain spam.

C

[edited by: bakedjake at 3:30 pm (utc) on Feb. 23, 2006]
[edit reason] no specifics! [/edit]

tictoc




msg:1533049
 4:52 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you want to find a subdomain, use MSN search.

You would think MSN could fix the subdomain spam because it should be easy to tell apart from the quality sites that should be ranking higher.

steveb




msg:1533050
 6:29 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I get flabbergasted that anyone actually has the huevos to pretend the results aren't pathetic. It's just so transparent. crobb's example isn't even in their top ten percent of bad.

BillyS




msg:1533051
 1:47 pm on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

You're right on target with that example crobb305. Subdomain spam and redirects rule for this seemingly popular search term.

Shurik




msg:1533052
 8:50 pm on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Subdomain spam is heavy but can the vocal guys (crobb305 and steveb) offer any practical solution to overcome the abuse without such measures as sandbox, authority links and domain age (subdomain age)? I think you would all agree that if MSN implements all those measures they would end up with another Google. Do you need another google? I sure donít.

BTW subdomain spam works well in google too, provided you have an old enough domain(s) and constant source of good and diverse links. Naturally because of these constrains an entry level in google is much higher and only select few can do it which in turn results in "quality spam" making it less noticeable and more legit.

Iím for eliminating spam from MSN but the solution is not as trivial as it may seem. If you guys have any practical suggestions on how to surgically eliminate spam without hurting others please speak up.

Here are my thoughts for what it worth
1) Reconsider how authority and rank flows from a main domain to its subdomains. Any keyword subdomain on blogspot with a 1000+ IBLs from other blogs can outrank virtually anything. Consider treating subdomains as stand along sites.

2) Reconsider a ďlink is a linkĒ approach.
An link from a home page that has only a few outgoing links should have more weight then a link from a blog post with 1000s of outgoing links. Why? Because you are developing a commercial search engine operating in hostile environment and not a blog search. This along will make it more expensive to spam MSN.

crobb305




msg:1533053
 9:44 pm on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

can the vocal guys (crobb305 and steveb) offer any practical solution to overcome the abuse without such measures as sandbox, authority links and domain age (subdomain age)? I think you would all agree that if MSN implements all those measures they would end up with another Google. Do you need another google? I sure donít.

Steve and I are not the ones getting paid to resolve the subdomain spam problem. We are simply bringing the issue to their attention. Furthermore, I have sent MSN many "feedback" messages about this problem over the past year. Nothing has been done.

You say "we don't need another Google". Well, Google and Yahoo do NOT have these subdomains showing up on the search phrases I watch. So, they must be doing something right (although I admit they are not perfect). If eliminating spam means having a "sandbox" and making it more difficult for a site to rank (i.e., a year or longer), I am all for it. I have a "sandboxed" site that is 13 months old and JUST NOW coming out of the Google sandbox. I have not complained once.

Iím for eliminating spam from MSN but the solution is not as trivial as it may seem. If you guys have any practical suggestions on how to surgically eliminate spam without hurting others please speak up.

You need to read EVERY post in a thread before jumping in with these kind of statements. We have made suggestions, and we have been in contact with a rep from MSN regarding these issues.

You should be more careful before you post.

C

steveb




msg:1533054
 11:29 pm on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

"I sure donít."

To busy trolling I suppose. So you like to spam. Fine. Nobody cares. The point is MSN is awash with certains of spam, to a degree far more than other engines.

tedster




msg:1533055
 12:00 am on Feb 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

The points have been made, and the discussion seems to have run its course. So we're closing it now.

This 150 message thread spans 5 pages: < < 150 ( 1 2 3 4 [5]
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