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This has been verified on four different large sites. A large site is one where Google or Yahoo report over 50,000 pages using the site:www.?.com command.
The counts in Google and Yahoo for large numbers are incredibly inflated using this command. They can easily be double the actual number of total pages on that site. On my own large site, the numbers are four times higher than the total number of pages on the site.
Therefore, you have to confirm your counts by adding another word to the command, as in site:www.?.com extraword
Choose a word that will bring the count down under 1,000. Counts under 1,000 are still inaccurate, but can be improved with this technique:
1) Set your preferences to 100 per page.
2) Click on the last page.
3) Scroll to the bottom. If there is a message that you can repeat the search with the omitted results included, then click on it.
4) Click on the last page and get the actual count of displayed links.
Here are the counts for site:www.webmasterworld.com:
And now with the extra word to bring the count under 1,000, here are the counts for site:www.webmasterworld.com everyman:
After studying why the MSN counts are so low on large sites, it appears that the more your extra word tends to appear on deeper pages, the lower MSN's coverage of that site for that extra word.
In other words, on large sites the MSN crawler has been going deep for 18 months, but the beta.search.msn.com engine is not displaying deep pages on these sites.
Unless Microsoft gets it together, their search engine will not be competitive.
I've done searches over the period of an hour and watched the number fluctuate between 9,000 and 30 for the same "site:mydomain.com" search (without any other terms). The site only has about 500 pages, so that's a pretty amazing variance.
Just a matter of opinion here....Don't take this offensive! But I am sick of the comparisons, hearing about Google this, Google that, etc... MSN is not Google and hopefully before long end users and not us webmasters start turning the tide on Google due to it's poor relevancy!
we have to be productive here. we need to figure this one out as fast as possible, cause in a few months it will be live.
I say a good analysis approch for now is: everyone concentrate in their respective industries/fields, that we know well, then compare how your site is doing (you know its characteristics, content, links, etc) with respect to your competitors (who you migth know about a bit)
My only problem with my own approach is that, I don't believe the current results MSN is giving will remain. Maybe I am too optimistic, maybe I am blind and refusing to see the truth, but I just don't believe these results will remain, as I find them very poor.
So the real deal will be to apply my comparison approch, some basic testing ONCE the results have stabilized and MSN is close to a release version.
The question is, will MSN warn us a few weeks / months in advance before releasing to the public?