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Non-SERP Problems

Why does MSN have coding bugs?



6:08 pm on Feb 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

So, I heard the news and decided to spend some time looking at how my site does in MSN (about the same as Yahoo, but worse than Google). What has me agog, however, aren't the SERPs, but simple bugs, eg.

1. Microsoft Explorer 5.2 Mac OS X and OS 9.2 - Page generates a Javascript error ("function expected"). The resultant page is a CSS nightmare, with border and backgrounds crazy, and the search box way out to the right. I guess they're writing off Macs, even those using their own browser.

2. Safari Mac OS X - You can't use the return key to submit a search, or it assumes you mean "search local." The distinction between the two isn't immediately obvious, so I was left wondering why the web only had 90 pages on "giraffes."

3. CSS Bug. If the "snippet" for a site contains an unordered list, the bullets are represented as huge black boxes. (First, they don't strip out the markup; second they allow a rule used elsewhere on the page to apply within the SERPs.) It's very attention-getting, so SEO types, go ahead and throw some unordered lists into your pages!

Oh, and let me just drop this gem. Search for "Andrew Jackson" and you get "Are you looking for 'Andrew' near Jackson, Mississippi?" Type "Alexander Hamilton," and it asks "*Are you looking for 'Alexander', near Hamilton, MA?" Why no, thank you very much. I'm not. Are *you* looking for "Search, near Engine, Alaska?"

The SERPS are terrible too, but you'd think they could test their pages on multiple browsers. I do it, and I'm just one guy!


6:15 pm on Feb 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yeah ... I just wrote something similar in another thread. I have a Mac as well. MSN obviously doesn't own one to test anything on. Maybe Mr. Jobs could loan Mr. Gates one so he can take a look and see how some of us are seeing his new baby.

She looks a little ugly to me! :)


2:41 am on Feb 2, 2005 (gmt 0)


Your search for Andrew Jackson is a classic - "Were you looking for 'andrew' near Jackson, MS"

Several weeks ago, I informed MSN that a search for something like Keyword1 keyword2 New York City resulted in MSN asking me if I was loking for News in York City. ..... I checked today - they've got that fixed. Now if they can just get Presidents and Treasury Secretaries separated from Cities and States. (I think this is 'geo-location' gone berzerk.)


4:55 am on Feb 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Oh, there's even "Are you searching for 'Abe' near Lincoln, NE?"

And here's an odd circularity: "Boston Celtics." -- "Are you looking for 'Celtics' near Boston, MA?" (If you click yes, half the links go away because they aren't geolocated to Boston.)

Ditto most sports teams, by the way. It's as if the algorithm is just to run each word through a list of places, with no check to see if the phrase is a common one on its own.

At least they're not asking "Are you looking for 'George' near Bush, WY?"

All things considered, I find their search results shokingly bad, particularly for non-money terms. Junk in money terms is probably inevitable; Google certainly has it. But simple educational keywords bring up an amazing array of unrelated puzzlement.


11:40 am on Feb 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

MSN is not the only one with problems, Google returns just 32 results for a two word phrase that has over half a million results, try the same search and refine it to UK only and it comes up with 769 listings from 96,100 results (as it should).

I have tried this search for weeks as it is important for one of my sites, it's always broken.

As for the relevance of results in other engines, in my area of operation (not big money terms) which is usually 'service locality' there are so many junk results on Google that it beggars belief. A uk search for a particular service returns just 4 relevant sites from the first 100, MSN manages 8 of from the first 10.

I used to wax lyrical about Google and I haven't given up hope yet as they do have a lot of junk to weed out but if anyone asked me to recommend a search engine I would have to pass, a sad reflection on the problems facing the industry.


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