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Anyone else think MSN is passing Google.

At least in terms of relevance?

     
5:10 pm on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

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We're doing research for local search across the three big players. MSN is beating Google and Yahoo both pretty handily. I don't think this is related to Strider, I think they're up to something else. We just posted a sample on our site and it's pretty compelling. Wish I could post a link but you can check it yourself with any widget + City name.
9:16 pm on Aug 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Geo targeting

aren't the the country specific check boxes supposed to switch it on/off?

You know, I thought that MSN search AI would see it as a customer generated instruction,

9:34 pm on Aug 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yes, if the customer explicitly sets the country preference, then it really is a ban. However, when the customer gives no preference, the system has to pick some kind of default. Obviously we could just ignore the setting entirely, but if we make the feature available to the net, it finds a way to use it to improve the overall results.

Note, by the way, that the net could even "decide" that out-of-country results were better than same-country results. We have never seen it do this (in any market) but it's a theoretical possiblity. You'd probably see that if we trained a Monaco-specific net, for example.

9:45 pm on Aug 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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except where I am searching for a product or service that requires proximity , perhaps for delivery purposes, or because of a requirement for local knowledge,,,etc

i suspect, I would want geo targetting off for most searches,

This is particularly true of tech related searches, an music, an images of famous beauties :-)

I dunno about other folk, but perhaps you guys could do one of your customer surveys for a potentially critical feature, especially if you say the system rarely selects outta region results,,

Just an opinion

P.S. If i remember correctly, an understand what you're saying, an issue with the monaco system is wildcards, at least thats my view, a lotta human interest is wildcards

11:08 pm on Aug 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if people found their way to sites hosted outside the US featuring content written by US citizens for US citizens, despite geotargeting. This is because geotargeting is not reliable.
11:48 pm on Aug 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Geotargeting is not 100% reliable, no. If it were completely random, the system would give it 0 weight. Also, many searches really do benefit from global results, and that also contributes to a lower weight. If it really were 100% reliable and if customers never wanted "foreign" pages, then it would have infinite weight -- equivalent to a "ban."

In fact, plenty of queries really will give results from all over the world -- the geolocal penalty is far from absolute. However, in a highly-competitive category, it can make a huge difference -- probably bigger than it ought to.

10:37 am on Aug 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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About "not banning": relegating the first result of a relevant site to like page 4 or 5 is effectivily banning it, nobody pages that far in search results.
[Well almost nobody as there is a tiny trickle of people who are actually sent over from msn]

About allowing your algo to know geolocation of the web servers in the first place: why? It can only lead to distorted results. And as a matter of fact msn did not use to have this "feature".

If geotargeting would be useful at all (e.g. in trying to find a local shop or someting) then I'd at least suspect something like the www.msn.be to find a belgian site, but it too does not find it. [I went to check and confirm this is still the case, but unfortunately it's stuck in a loop making me confirm language preferences :-(]

I really see no point in Microsoft telling me where to host my servers, I should be allowed to do that wherever I find the best deal.

What's next if I host it in NY, people from CA not being able to find it? Or if I host it outside Manhattan, those inside Manhattan not finding it? It's ridiculous, and utterly irrelevant. Moreover anybody looking for something local will focus on the address in the search (just as they do if they seek something away from their current location).

But even if you seek that local business, their webserver is unlikely to be all that local, it'll be wherever their supplier likes the servers to be.

For the rest: apology accepted.

But fixing that search engine would make me much more happy, esp. as I fear it might yield a bit of success out of vista's release.

I know this might sound like a grumpy website owner, but there is *no* search engine aside msn that relegates the site to anything but the #1 spot, and it's only the odd chance of people actually switching over to msn as an option for a search engine that makes me worry at all.

4:37 pm on Aug 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The algorithm has access to the information because it is able to use it to make the results better overall. Unfortunately this creates winners and losers.

Language is also a feature (and a much stronger one than location), so that explains why the Belgian MSN Search doesn't find your site either.

Microsoft definitely is not telling anyone how to construct their sites nor where to host them. In fact, strong results that depend on a single feature are exactly the sort of thing that is most likely to change (without notice) in the future. Design your site to appeal to your customer -- not to us.

We are concerned with this issue, and we're looking for ways to fix it. We just need to find something that produces an overall improvement -- not something that fixes one problem but introduces a worse one.

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