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5-25 MSN Search Update
newwebster




msg:1535937
 2:41 pm on May 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am seeing major movement in the serps. Nothing looks pretty at all. The authoriy knob just got turned off completely. I am seeing a new load of spam and overall lack of relevency.

 

statchecker




msg:1536117
 3:05 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

MSNDude: For a search query, try "mortgage after bankruptcy", it looks like the first two pages are mostly owned by one or two companies that own a bunch of almost identical websites.

My site got bumped from #3 on the first page (with almost 1000 pages of original content and thousands of backlinks) to oblivion and was replaced by these total spam pages.

I can't even try to fix anything to come up higher because all of the top pages are complete spam with no backlinks.

Shurik




msg:1536118
 3:42 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I searched for 'webmaster' and did not see WebmasterWorld even in the top 100

WebmasterWorld suffers from the "lost head syndrome" - the home page is not indexed anymore. Hence the total loss of ranking juice.

wariental




msg:1536119
 4:08 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I kinda feel angry because it would be ok if my website got penalized or dropped in ranking for whatever reason but to fully be deindexed when I offered good content and had a good amount of backlinks just doesn't make sense.

I did have links from blogspot in comment boxes but does that really mean I should be deindexed? Thats like having your backlink in a forum signature and be deindexed for it.

I mean if its becomming an issue it should just be devalued.

Again I am not sure if this is why my site has suffered since this algorithm but I would love to know.

MLHmptn




msg:1536120
 4:31 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Honestly I think the results before this update were better than today's. The old index only needed a subdomain spam tweak.

Garya




msg:1536121
 5:44 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Was just checking the top 5 sites that I follow for certain phrases.
It looks like the 10 competitive phrases I follow the sites that are not optimized at all are in the top 5 but have backlinks.
Also checked my sites and the sites which are less optimized are ranking higher. Many top sites are gone because they have all the usual optimization tips , keyword, density, links with phrases.

CainIV




msg:1536122
 6:25 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

msndude, tried stickying you regarding very poor results in the sectors I watch, but your mail is, as steveb pointed out, full.

There has been zero changes in the results for the sectors I watch since "The big upset" for most common keywords.

AngeloB




msg:1536123
 9:53 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think it's good that they're testing and stuff, really. But it's amazing to see that after a week they haven't changed back to the old, better, results.

I agree with MLHmptn. Seriously, the old results with a blogspot fix and you have the best yet. IMO they tried too hard with fixing spam, that it also affected all the 'regular' queries. And I don't believe the loss of spam right now compared to last week makes up for the loss in relevancy.

angiolo




msg:1536124
 10:20 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I like both Brazil and Arabia!
Results in my niche are clean: authoritative sites in the first spots!

I think they did a good job!

dial_d




msg:1536125
 10:26 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)


MSNDude,

In the sectors that I watch closely, the current results are much, much better than they used to be and the Brazilian results are even better.

Several people have complained about subdomain spam but I think that has gotten somewhat better, though far from perfect.

It looks to me that this update was another step in the right direction.

Liane




msg:1536126
 10:36 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I know I will be very unpopular for saying so, but I think MSN is actually improving. Not because my site has better results (in fact they are much worse) ... but because they have actually managed to improve one particular search I use as a litmus test for all search engines.

MSN has always failed this test until now. Yahoo still fails the test.

Its a simple, 2 word phrase which is the name of a place (a tiny island actually) but the name contains a common noun used often. For the purpose of this thread, we will give this island the fictional name of "Basin Key".

In previous iterations of the MSN index, they have never once actually found the website www.basinkey.com (which is not mine by the way) or any other web page which discussed basin key. These sites never appeared in the top 5 pages of results for the search "basin key"! Other (more popular sites) containing the word "basin" or "key" always came up first.

"So what?" you may say. Well, the so what is that none of those sites had anything to do with "basin cay" which is what I was searching for. The fact that MSN has finally managed to find that one little web site for that tiny island in the middle of nowhere (as well as several other sites, including mine, which offer information about it) is a very big so what! It means their relevancy is improving. It also means that when people search for certain things, sometimes, the combination of words and the order in which the words are entered is important!

Finally, finally ... MSN have managed to get it right! This is a very positive step in the right direction IMHO! Hopefully, they will be able to sort out the rest of the bugs they still have to deal with.

Maybe then, my site results will go back to the way they were prior to the update :)

wariental




msg:1536127
 11:38 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

come on now.. all that means is the have put more weight on keywords in the URL... that is exactly why that website has been found within this new algorithm. There are many branded companies out there that are losing money to keyword stuffed domains. In my honest opinion its a step backwards because it encourages spam and hurts real branded companies that previously held higher positions prior to this algorithm.

Once again, this algorithm is giving extra weight to keyword domains which is fine maybe at the current moment but long term it will create a bunch of www.INSERTkeyWORDhere.com websites that offer low quality content just to convert to a quick buck.

Prior to this update a website with 3000+ backlinks and great relevancy was leading my main sector, now as it stands the sector is being led by a website with keyword stuffed domain and 48 backlinks (including internal linking).

I don't know if thats what you call a step in the right direction.

Liane




msg:1536128
 11:54 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

wariental,

With due respect, please reread this sentence:

The fact that MSN has finally managed to find that one little web site for that tiny island in the middle of nowhere (as well as several other sites, including mine, which offer information about it) is a very big so what!

Until now, no "pages" relating to this tiny island appeared in the top 5 pages of MSN results. Now, they have finally found nearly all sites/pages which are relevant to the search term.

econman




msg:1536129
 1:33 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Liane, that's an interesting example. It's not clear if the improvement is merely the result of greater emphasis on keywords in the domain, or possibly some other factors that are also at work.

Even if greater emphasis on keywords is the explanation, that doesn't necessarily mean MSN is moving in the wrong direction. It may suggest that they need to work harder at creating, (or put more emphasis on existing) aspects of their algorithms which are designed to detect low quality sites / spam, etc.

In other words, algo changes that help them detect obscure sites about specific topics may be beneficial, but those same changes may be dredging up a lot of spam; the net effect will be bad for MSN unless they quickly figure out a way to filter out the keyword1-keyword2.keyword3-keyword4.com sites.

chrisv1963




msg:1536130
 3:50 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Until now, no "pages" relating to this tiny island appeared in the top 5 pages of MSN results. Now, they have finally found nearly all sites/pages which are relevant to the search term."

Could it be it didn't appear in the results because MSN doesn't know how to do deep crawling ...?

Tomseys




msg:1536131
 4:21 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

msn took 20 steps backwards, a shame

CainIV




msg:1536132
 4:23 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Right now msn is placing the most emphasis on keywords in the url unfortunately, as if a know was pushed was too far. Common sites with the keyword in the url for most sectors I am looking at are ranking high and offer poor results.

Liane




msg:1536133
 4:42 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

In other words, algo changes that help them detect obscure sites about specific topics may be beneficial, but those same changes may be dredging up a lot of spam ...

Exactly. Give them some time to figure out how to deal with the spam problems. If they can do it better than Google ... they may just have something there! At least now they have proven that they are able to find the obscure sites and offer them up for the proper searches.

To me, this indicates that MSN is finally on the right track. They are able to find the most obscure of all searches and correctly identify the proper pages/sites relating to the query string. Now they are faced with the same problems Google has been facing for some time. Cleaning up the mess (spam) being accurate creates!

Yahoo still hasn't passed this litmus test!

Shurik




msg:1536134
 4:53 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Msndude, I mentioned this before and would like to emphasize it again. Pages with keyword in URL and absolutely no content are ranking very high. Just pick any page that has a meta refresh and IBLs.

Example: www.google.com/url?q=http://www.msn.com

Such pages are everywhere and some of them rank well for very competitive keywords. It does not look good. Please have your people look into it.

AngeloB




msg:1536135
 5:07 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Exactly. Give them some time to figure out how to deal with the spam problems. If they can do it better than Google ... they may just have something there! At least now they have proven that they are able to find the obscure sites and offer them up for the proper searches.

Those are quite the conclusions with only one example. They are going the right way because they found some weird island site? I appreciate people who look at positive things first, but this is a bit too much.

Sure they try to deal with the spam problems, but at what cost? Less relevant results overall. I'd really suggest running a copy of the whole search.msn.com site on the background and use it to test new spam filers by making sure that it doesn't negatively influence other things / results.

Liane




msg:1536136
 5:19 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

AngeloB,

I wish we were allowed to post search strings here ... but let me just say that this is not the only example I have found. However, the fact that MSN has finally been able to find, correctly identify and serve up in their search results even the most obscure of websites is a very positive step forward.

I agree that the spam and keyword in URL issues are very real problems. But that is not to say that they aren't making advancements in their search algo development. Don't forget, MSN is relatively new to search ... at least new to developing search on their own. Surely you didn't think they wouldn't have to undergo the same growing pains we have witnessed Google going through? MSN is still in their infancy. Give them a chance to get things sorted out!

dclick




msg:1536137
 6:03 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

bottom line to me: I cant find WebmasterWorld in msn.. for common terms. not even in the first 10 pages and it is in there for "webmaster world" but beyond that it is Missing In Action.. yahoo/google i can find it on page 1 and its probably the most relevant site out there for the webmaster related terms. thats a serious problem/serps result.. and likely many other sites are mia as well while a-z alphabet-keyword. blogspot spammers fill up the first page for many common keyword searches.

I think as some mentioned before, if they would weight authority links more they'd get a better serp results. Even just counting basic authority links like dmoz link as x points, yahoo dir x points and bcentral directory link x points would probably weight it heavily to the less-blogspot and comment spammer factors (good blog sites do submit their sites to these directories and get approved) spam factor as spammers dont submit their junk pages to these paid authority human reviewed services...and dont get approved either way. (hopefully)

at least thats possibility for a good improvement .. ive follow msn's progress and about a year ago at pubcon / new orleans their results were pretty darn good at that moment.. but for whatever reasons the past few months they really fell back.

newwebster




msg:1536138
 6:51 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think they forgot to turn the Authority knob up. Comparing some results between Google and MSN outside of my own niche, Google has them beat in terms of "useful" (not relevant) serps. Most of the poor quality pages and spam have been cleared out, however I am still seeing repetitive sub domain results for some searches.

Thinkprog




msg:1536139
 9:29 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Moving on with these serps is simply not making sense!
MSN has to switch back to the old serps and improve them (a little). In many areas they were better than google and yahoo. The old results with subdomain filter can definetly compete against google and yahoo.
The results at the moment could compete against altavista in 1999.
I donīt get it: Is MSN just too proud to switch back to the old better results?

wariental




msg:1536140
 9:37 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Cleaning up the mess (spam) being accurate creates!

Thats one big contradiction.

msndude




msg:1536141
 10:46 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Not really a contradiction: web pages come from two distributions: normal pages, which contain real information, and spam pages, which are attempting to fool the engine into thinking they're something they're not.

If you build a system that does a great job of ranking normal pages, it's apt to be completely fooled by spam pages. A change that gives a modest boost to relevance for normal pages can cause spam pages to skyrocket.

We have a number of different ways to measure relevance and spam; all of those measures show modest improvement over the status quo ante. This is why we aren't considering rolling the net back.

Your feedback matters, though; measures can be wrong. I've been collecting feedback and checking queries and URLs against our current index using four different nets (the old one, the new one, and two experimental ones). So far, though, what I've found mostly falls into one of two categories:

1) The new results are spammy, but the old ones were just as bad. Some of these look better on one or another experimental net, but I'm sure those would gore someone else's ox. :-)
2) The results are about the same as before except that the sender's URL is gone.

In case #2, most of the time the URL had been marked as Spam. There is a procedure to appeal to MSN to reverse a spam judgment, but since people were nice enough to give me feedback, when I thought the system was wrong, I reversed it myself on the spot. In the other cases, I explained the problem privately.

The point I'm trying to make here is that we're not going to have knee-jerk reactions to anything that isn't a clear disaster, and that is not what we're seeing here. We're still watching, and we're still listening, but our next steps will be forward, not backward, and those steps will be deliberate, not hurried.

steveb




msg:1536142
 11:17 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

The changes are a clear improvement. The problems of course are also fairly clear, which is not a totally bad thing. It should be obvious for example that whatever makes endless trivial blogspot pages rank so well is a problem.

The lack of an authority knob surely remains MSN's key problem. Every time "relevance" is mentioned instead of "quality" that harkens back to the horroble conceptual thinking that has rendered MSN useless from the beginning.

SmartMoney




msg:1536143
 11:47 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

1) The new results are spammy, but the old ones were just as bad...

I agree with that the spam factor is equal, but with the old results at least there was the odd authority site sprinkled in...now they are nowhere to be found.

Also if there are any 'real' sites in the mix they tend to be branches of the main search term. For example if I search for webmaster the forth result is from a totally non related site's "contact the webmaster" page.

So while the spamminess of the new results may be the same the overall quality level has dropped everywhere that I have checked.

I think you should focus on raising the quality level rather that combatting spam...a subtle shift of purpose, but one that will lead you to the kind of results that those other Guuuuuuys are getting.

wariental




msg:1536144
 12:04 am on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Here is a problem I see right of the bat. Prior to this update I ranked on page one for a term that was related to the search query. Now I still rank number one for the same search term but its no longer the actual page thats most relevant, its a subpage of the same website but its not relevant to the search.

Right away I noticed this is because the sub page contains more keywords in the full URL.

This needs to be fixed.

Garya




msg:1536145
 12:39 am on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

MSN in denial

1. Before update authority sites + some spam in index
2. After update just some spam and no authority sites in index.
This is clearly a step backwards.

msndude




msg:1536146
 12:43 am on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

We're not in denial -- we're just from Missouri. :-)

asiaseo




msg:1536147
 1:22 am on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

The fact that msndude is here is a great step forward. There is communication. A level and fair field is all anyone asks. Not everyone can be at the top. It would be nice though if local content sites with good and updated content can achieve a 'reasonable' position without having the have thousands ( or tens of thousands ) of links.
If you have a website for a restaurant on a tiny island, just how many pages can you have, 4, 5, maybe 10 maximum, and just how many links would be realistic? For our area arabia and brazil are great compared with other SE's.

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