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Microsoft Launches New Era in MS Search



10:18 pm on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Continued From: [webmasterworld.com...]

Wow! Lot’s of excitement. Thanks for all of the feedback. We just want to address a few of the topics that came up.

What is the beta? As WebGuerilla has pointed out the beta is an evolution of our Technology Preview. As you can tell we made major enhancements to the user interface and added a bunch of new features. We still have work to do, however, to get [search.msn.com...] to be able to use our new algorithmic search results that are available at [beta.search.msn.com...] .

How does one get into the results? All of our web results are generated algorithmically so you cannot buy your way into the index. We will not try and teach site optimization to you guys – assume you have that covered :) If you want to submit your URL to us you can do that at [beta.search.msn.com...] .

Also regarding relevance, there has been some speculation on some online forums about MSNBot using Google search result pages to build our index. Let us set the record straight – that is simply not true. We respect robots.txt and as a result we will not crawl Google’s search result pages.

With regards to site availability that is something we are continuously working on. Oshoma Momoh, a General Manager in the MSN Search team, posted a blurb about this on the MSN Search blog -- [blogs.msdn.com...] .

Finally some folks have asked why we don’t just turn this on for all users right now? We love the words of encouragement, however, we have a number of bugs that we need to fix and we need to make sure that we can run the service with great performance and deliver high quality results. We will get there.

Please keep the feedback and constructive criticism coming – we appreciate all of it.

- msndude (msd)


5:37 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Very true to form for Microsoft isn't it? Embarrasingly late to enter, then throw money at it. Nevertheless very interesting and great to see some competition from another big player.

Seems like a pretty simple algorithm, and reminds me of MS WORD with the sliders. Looks like they have designed software not a search engine.

Whole new approach to thinking about a search engine. Very welcome indeed!


5:52 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

they have designed software not a search engine- Which will go along way to making it work.

If you can use like any MS package then your half way to being an expert without using it at all.


7:14 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Anyone want to take a crack at the algo for the latest MSN Beta? I have my theories based on my industry but I would love to hear/see from others.

One clue from me: one of my clients seems to be "downgraded" for overusing a keyword on the home page BUT seems to be at an advantage for other internal pages for the over-use of the keyword on the home page, thus well-optimized for inside pages using that key word with other words. The intial tech preview had this client at a number one or two spot and now is found on page five so I am pretty sure about the "overusing" of a key word (I think some SEM call that "key word frequency."

Also, is MSN Beta using any human directory? If so, which one?

Other thoughts?

Or should this be a new thread...


8:06 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I keep hearing about the sliders and I haven't been able to find them. I have searched for quite awhile now so can someone please let me know where to find them?


8:06 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Webhound, I respect your posts but really must take issue with these comment about Google not indexing new sites quicky.

I have a site that I created two months ago (to get around the stupid Yahoo! bans).

The site has "sufficient" back links to ensure life on the web.

Google has been all over it since the first week and knows about 95% of the site now.

Yahoo! (invited to the party since it was created for them exclusivley and only for them) has since Saturday got the index page and two other pages indexed.

I don't make this stuff up its the way it is.

Google is so far ahead of Yahoo! still that comparison just does not hold water.

MSN..well thats something else they are catching up so fast that they are treading on Google heals....

Google no doublt is completely tied now by its many algorithms while MSN still has, for the time being, room to move.

In a year or so time they will be in the same position as Google with an excellent search engine and will be up against the old "law of dimishing returns".


8:23 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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To find the sliders go to [beta.search.msn.com...] and click on search builder. Then click on results ranking and you will be able to see the sliders.

It is interesting to see how the results change.


8:23 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Check out message #66 in this thread on where to find the sliders.


9:29 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Cleanup, No problem. It's been our experience that Google has trouble getting new sites in the index for more competitive areas. Sure they aren't bad when it comes to the 3-5 keyword terms, but for any competitive areas, they are brutal. And trust me, it's not just me, ever hear of the "sandbox"? :-)


9:52 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

well, after checking back 2 days later, I miss the comments from MSNdude!?

MSNdude: would be nice, if you would continue to talk to us, otherwise this thread will (like a lot of others) turn into gossip...

You know, that we know, that you know... that we all think M$ is the monopolist from hell... but hey, a lot of us are using your stuff and we have the experience in the market you need. In other boards the mods would have kicked you already for JUST LISTENING :-)

More input would be much appreciated!



11:17 pm on Nov 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I really like MSN's new search system. Although it has some issues, I feel they are more accurate than Google and Yahoo!. That is saying a lot for a product still in development.

This quote sums it up for me.

Go Microsoft! A year or two ago I thought I would never say that.

Since then Microsoft has put out some great software - I'm almost happy with Windows and Office for the first time...

But what about MSN search Beta!

What a great effort – it’s like going back to the glory days of Google. MSN offers fast and relevant searching without playing around with subjective or profit motivated artificial manipulation of results. This is the principle that made Google succeed –
providing the best results out there. It is also what will make MSN Beta succeed.

The big question is whether MSN can generate profit without altering their relevant search results as others engines have done. I think they can do this by aligning their search technology with the other Microsoft products and sites.

Google & Yahoo are in for a huge shake up if they retain Adwords and other revenue schemes, rather than search quality, as their core concern. I predict MSN to be a big player very quickly.

Well done MSN Beta Search - you have my vote and support.


3:52 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How does this look on a smartphone? The design reminds me of their MSN Mobile page:



6:10 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

1) The format of the beta search site leaves a lot to be desired.

2) The reliability of the beta search site is appalling!

3) The results of the beta search site are very basic and very limited.

4) Look at the Yahoo algo currently used on your live site and compare. Yahoo results are generally okay, acceptable, decent, not perfect, but a model to work on.

I'm a major MSFT fan, a significant MSFT shareholder, and generally a supporter of almost everything MS does (as you will see from my previous posts).

But, don't imagine for a minute that you are ready to launch search in this state! You ain't got it together yet.

If you hint at launching search in this state I'm selling up ASAP. You have great potential, but need to give it a lot of work before even contemplating a live position.

The PR guy who said Jan 2005 needs to be shot, let the tech guy that probably says Jun 2006 have a greater impact :)


6:28 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Re: Rankings based on how long you have been in business, registration with the BBB etc. We generally will not comment on how we do ranking, however, this is interesting – thanks for the input. We do hear a general desire for more ways to understand which sources of information are trusted and authoritative.

With regards to our strategy and quest for world domination – well, our strategy is actually a lot simpler :) We aim to provide a search experience that is greatly improved over what we currently offer on MSN. By doing so, we will help more end users find what they want, faster. We will help our advertising customers reach those end users. And we will contribute further to Microsoft’s bottom line. So our goal is simply to provide a more relevant end-to-end search experience. Sounds corny, but it is that simple.

Also, a note on MSNBot and its crawling habits (saw some posts lurking on this). We have been working on our crawler for a while now and believe that we are doing pretty well on the basiscs – respecting robots.txt, dealing with session based web sites, etc. There will, however, be circumstances where we are more aggressive on a site than we intend to. If this happens please E-mail us at msnbot@microsoft.com or you can send sticky mail on webmasterworld – the former is preferred. We will work to get these issues figured out.

Lastly, would be interested in getting people’s take on the following. What are the best things (say top 5) about the new search – things where you were like “wow, I cannot believe Microsoft would pull that off in a beta”. Additionally what are say the five worst things about the search engine? These are things where you say to yourself “what the heck were they thinking?”

- msndude (msd)


7:43 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Top five good things about msn search:

1. It indexes RECENT websites that play a fair game. (i.e. no sandbox)
2. I rank well on your engine so far :)
3. It seems to rank according to the theme of a website, for example, I have a music site, and to my surprise I rank well for musical terms such as composers names, types of pianos, types of symphony halls, etc, but I probably won't rank well for non musical terms. Thats ok, I only want musicians to my website anyway.
4. Updates frequently, and if your a good SEO, it will pick up most or all of the pages. Yahoo is too slow to index, Google indexes, but puts you in sandbox forever (if new website). New or not, this MSN search will index and rank you if you know what your doing, and thats a plus. It gives people who truly know what they are doing, and want to compete a chance.
5. Gives new webmasters, and websites hope.

Five Bad things about MSN search

1. Sometimes its slow, but may be because its beta.
2. Can us webmasters trust that the fair rankings last? Example, will they implement a sandbox like Google, in the future?
3. I have read that msn bot can gobble up tons of bandwidth, yikes!
4. Will ranking continue to be based on an SEO's "ability and will" to compete, or will MSN play games and make it confusing and impossible to rank in the future.
5. When will the new search be available to the public already!

I hope this search takes off soon. I know it will make tons of webmasters happy. I just want to say I worked hard on my site, built relevant links, and I feel like I am being rewarded by MSN (so far) for my efforts in a fair way. I worked too hard to gain links from other music websites, just to be "sandboxed for years" in Google. If I had known Google was going to do this to me regardless, pagerank of 5 or not, I wouldn't have spent hours getting links! At least MSN recognizes my efforts, and gives me a reason to continue designing my website. Frankly, I was ready to give up my website for awhile, and come back in a year or so. Thanks for giving me hope!


8:11 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Bad things about MSN search - it's not as good as the old one.
To move forward it must at least be as good as the one it's going to replace, if you release a bad SE the public will desert in their droves and won't come back in a hurry.
I cant see anything good at the moment, the whole idea is to provide good SERP's and it's not there at present.


8:34 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

5 things I like:

1. Results at the moment are highly relevant! Don't tweak the algorithm too much :>~
2. MSN Beta Search is amazingly up-to-date (Results are not outdated (Yahoo) or SUPPLEMENTAL(Google)!
3. New sites are being recognized without being sandboxed like Google or taking over 6 months to get indexed as per Yahoo.
4. Innovation! I particularly like the Search Builder and all the options that it gives the user to find things such as searching just a site, what links are pointing to a particular site, the tweaks as far as the slider bars on the results ranking and the country origin feature. You don't have to visit 20 different search engines based on your origin to get different country results. Also I like the site domain feature how you can filter root domains like .gov, .edu, .org, etc...as most of the time these domains don't have any kind of relevancy for what your searching for anyway unless your doing research or something and you have Encarta for that :>~.
5. I am happy to see a search engine that will level the playing field. Google has amazingly altered their algorithm so many times that their results are ridiculously spammy (I thought that was what they were trying to eliminate in the first place with algorithm changes). Now results on google in my sector are all .edu, .org, .gov, etc. and have nothing to do with the industry I am in. Also blogs are taking over search results which to me is spam, spam, spam!

Don't like
1. It's not live yet :>~
2. Your code for adding msn search to my websites is not working :(
3. Temporarily unavailable at times but I can understand this while it's in beta mode and still under development.
4. $75,000 sponsorship for PPC. THis effectively will eliminate the small guys once every big company buys PPC positions.
5. Firm Launch Date please :>

What I'd like to see.....

1. Something similar to Froogle.
2. Something similar to Adsense where webmasters can make money with their PPC ad campaign or get credits for clickthroughs to other relevant sites. What's the scoop on Overture PPC? Is MSN going to start their own PPC when the contract expires? (This may of course be totally irrelevant dependent on microsoft's plans.)
3. Website Scanning...Something to monitor what sites engage in virii, spyware, adware, etc....and exlude offending sites. You effectively filter adult material so why not scan sites and help protect the end user from this kind of stuff? No matter if people have anti-virus programs they aren't going to keep them up to date with virus definitions.....Help the end user and your own OS from attack by eliminating offending websites from the index.


8:47 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

5 things I like

1. It makes me laugh sometimes. Searches like "more evil than satan" were funny back when google was #1.
2. I like the sliders. I can make my new site rank #1 when I list the unpopular sites...
3. I like the fact that all of my sites are indexed.
4. I can find what I want on the first page of results and you don't even have a "Supplimental Results" index? Go figure? Why can't other engines do that? What a concept.
5. My new site I just built is indexed and still being spidered right now. I really like the fresh results! New pages are added in just a few days. Another great concept!

Things I don't like...

1. msnbot spidering way too fast. Had to put a crawl delay. It Crashed my server which got my sites shut down by my host and had to get a dedicated server. which also got my sites dropped from google from not being online for a few days.
2. The msnbot doesn't obey my robots.txt wich clearly bans all bots from a folder /cgi-bin/ but it indexes pages from that folder anyway. Msnbot is the only bot that indexes pages from that folder. which was why my server crashed.
3. It's still "Beta" Roll it out! It's about time we start getting some traffic from this bandwidth eating beast!
4. I don't like the javascript that automatically puts the cursor in the search text box because if I scroll down the page before the page finishes loading it makes the page scroll back up to the top while I am reading. I have a dialup connection so it takes a while for the SERP to finish loading.
5. You should ban google and yahoo from your search engine like they do to thousands of us! That would teach them!


9:13 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The slider is not accurate for the searches I do.
The most popular sites are below others that are non events even when popularity is pumped up to 100%
The same non event sites are above the most important sites in the results also.
Seems to be based purely on the keyword rich url.


10:02 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Good thing: The results on the .co.uk and .com are very well demographically targetted for sites that sell products.

Bad thing: At least with the beta, users are not automatically transferred to the domain that will provide them the most useful results.

This has the chance to really make or break most of the smaller UK e-commerce sites! Please either automatically direct users to the correct geo-targetted site, or at least inform them that they will most likely get better results by going to the right domain.

I see this a lot with google as users automatically type .com in rather than going to the .co.uk - with google it's not such of a problem as both domains return an (in my opinion) useless mix of US and UK sites.



10:22 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Positive points:-
1) The search builder is genius, I hope it is used well. The popularity slider is fantastic and as far as I can see works brilliantly.
2) Relevancy of the query results - I have not seen results so logical and fresh since pre Florida Google.
3) Interface - nice simple look with good use of colour.
4) Help is simple, straight forward and useful.
5) Sponsored advertising has been positioned well.

Negative points:-
1) $75,000 minimum spend for sponsored advertising
2) Sometimes the search is not available
(will return and add to this if I find anything I don't like)

One thing I would like to know is do Microsoft intending on replacing the current MSN home page with the simple search form we see on beta?

If they do this I can see the new search taking off instantly, however I'm worried that if integrated into the MSN home page in a similar way to the current MSN then the new search might go un-noticed?


2:47 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Meta Tag "description" does not seem to be used when the search terms are relevent. Google uses this first then goes to text.


2:49 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

..for the snippet


3:12 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

$75,000 minimum spend for sponsored advertising

Yowsers... this will make those that can afford it very much richer.... can you imagine how many small time ppc players will not be able to do this!

Bet that ends up being a Premium service requirement for initial trials?


3:17 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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re the 75,000 spending thing a few of you have posted about...

This is only for those looking to do banner campaigns or other forms of advertising directly on MSN.com's site, this is not for the advertiser (like Overture) ads in the serp's.

This is how I understand it.


3:34 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hi Webhound....

That was what I was hoping the budget would be for, but in light of little information as to what this refers to this could well be for some kind of new keyword advertising route?


4:10 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This is only for those looking to do banner campaigns or other forms of advertising directly on MSN.com's site, this is not for the advertiser (like Overture) ads in the serp's.

Regardless, it's still a shame not everyone will be able to buy a slice of that cake.

We place no restrictions on minimum spend for advertising on our sites - but then the advertising model is simplicity in comparison.


4:19 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yup, MSN only wants to play with the big boys, like GM, Ford, Coca-cola, etc...

To them 75,000 is a drop in the bucket.

No this type of advertising is not for searches in particular, while it can be discussed (side ads), its mainly for ads on the main page, and other popular sections of the site.


6:11 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

1) Pages that are indexed are pretty fresh
2) Shows improvement over previous (moving in right direction)
3) Soliciting feedback from webmasters
4) Not rushed onto market in inferior state
5) Active MSNbot

1) Elementary school level spam still all over the place
2) Sliders do nothing useful
3) Many, many pages are indexed with affiliate tags or session ids when a more obvious root-ier URL should be the one shown.
4) Despite good crawling from MSNbot, a disappointing number of pages indexed from domains under 1000 pages (even under 100 pages); these should be easy to get 100% of, especially since the first 1000 or so pages of any domain are the most important
5) A very poor sense of niche authority. Relevenace is a useless thing to focus on... usually thousands of pages are "relevant"... QUALITY is what needs to be strived for, and MSN search right now has little sense of that. Top results for super-competitive, high $$$$$$$ value, and high traffic searches can be extremely lightweight domains that are laughable. Signals of quality MSN, seek signals of quality...

Non serp related
the html of the displayed pages blows chunks; hard to scroll because focus gets hijacked; pages load slow because stuff shifts all over the place; busy at 1024x


6:29 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Steveb hits the nail on the head (as usual)
all I would add is I am personally very happy with my positioning but I am not seeing some sites I would expect to so I suspect those of us who are sitting smug at the moment may be less so when the increase the number of sites in their index. Until then it is hard to make any valued judgement.

I have one site that has about 40% of pages in the index but others have very few so things seem less than cohesive as yet.

Perhaps the greatest benefit I see is there appears to be less emphasis on backlinks, hence fresher results.

Backlink dependence and the sandbox are the 2 monkeys on Googles back for me.


8:04 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Not very stable in its results... Yesterday, a search on site:mysite.com showed 25 pages; today, 10 pages (different ones, too). msnbot has certainly crawled just about all of my 700+ pages in the past few months - what's up with the selective results?
This 284 message thread spans 10 pages: 284

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