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MSN and CSS designed pages
Is the new algo viewing css designed sites as Spam?

 5:51 pm on Aug 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

We recently had just our index page redesigned as css (no tables).

We put the page up on Aug 20. We went from #4 to nowhere (not in top 200) on Aug 23 2006.

I understand from MSN dude that our market has it's own "net"

Is this new algo iewing it as spam and not a legit page? There may be a percentage of more links than body cpy on the page? Becuase of the removable of code to the css.

Has anyone else had problems in rankings with css designed pages on msn?



 6:20 pm on Aug 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Two sites we follow had vanished from msn, one with nothing but tables and one with css and no tables.

We found that the only way to get them back into msn was by removing all of the navigation from the front page and abstracting it to sub-pages.

The new MSN algo hates taxonomy and ontology and considers them "spam-looking" when you use them as navigation.

It you have

red widgets
blue widget
green widgets
happy widgets
sad widgets

and so forth on your front page, dump them.


 6:31 pm on Aug 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

not sure about that ontology part, but i am curious if msn favors table layouts vs pure css layouts.

that seems to be the case in the widget "net" i follow anyways...


 5:01 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

In my recent experience the use of tables versus css is not an important factor. Crisp and clean on the front page is much more important.

My wife's "pet" site (not "about pets" but more like "favorite") was getting zero traffic from msn and 100% from yahoo for the past couple of months. Yesterday, it changed to 50/50 and that has continued today.

All she did was add a simple command which said not to show most of the navigation on the main page.

<?php if (!is_home()) {?>
[most of navigational elements here]
<?php }?>


 7:06 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

what are the elements in? javascript or html?


 7:18 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

The navigation elements?

They are all in html but that is not really the point.

The point is this:

"Sometimes less is more."

Less navigation means less visual clutter and msn believes that provides a better user experience.

The jury is still out on that with me.

On one site, when I removed the bulk of the navigation, the site showed up again in the search.msn.com results within a couple of days but the visitors are no longer looking at 4-10 pages each like they used to.

Traffic dropped by 65% due to this, in spite of lots more visitors from msn to the home page.

That seems to me like an indication that their negative attitude about ontology-based navigation is defective when real users are taken into account.

PS: "real users" don't have PhD's and know very little about computers other than how to click on links and search to find what they are looking for.


 11:21 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sometimes less is less. :-) If you remove all the content, then, yes, that's not going to please the customer either.

Your point is taken that we might be too hard on legitimate directory pages at the moment. Unfortunately ontology usually recapitulates spamogeny.


 11:51 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't mean directory sites, I mean sites which have actual content split into categories.


 11:53 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Perhaps a better way to put it is

"Be careful how you categorize your content"

Breakdown by date seems to be okay but breakdown by topic area can easily get you banned by msn.


 12:06 am on Aug 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

>If you remove all the content,

Putting a set of standard categories on the front page so people can click on them and get to the content does get you competely filtered out of the search.MSN.com results.

I am not saying to remove any content. All of the content is still there on all of those sites.

It just can't be reached from the main page.

That is what had to be done to get the sites back into search.msn.com.

Visitors now have a choice to either

1. Search to find what they want.
2. Browse by date to try to find what they want.
3. Not find what they want and leave.

Many more are choosing number 3 right now than used to.

Perhaps in the future, as the sub-pages which contain the actual content get re-indexed, those visitors will get to the exact page they seek in one click from MSN instead of one click from the home page and they will be even happier than they used to be.

Perhaps not.


 12:28 am on Aug 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Okay, that does sound bad. Send me a sticky with a link to the before and after pages (if you're willing to) plus a query to test against, and I'll have a look at it.


 2:11 am on Aug 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

I already stickied it to you a couple of times.

I will send it again.

I will probably have to find the old pages and put them up at a temporary address with a noindex tag.

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