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A ten place drop from first to second page for the first site I checked isn't looking too appealing to me right now. ;)
It looks like sites with a LOT of backlinks have risen to the top, I'm seeing some that have been ranking at Google for similar search terms, and have checked their link profiles in the past.
It'll take more looking, but I'd say it's definitely an update.
I've never seen this before. One search I just did has four photos at the beginning of the results; one goes to a retail merchant's site (with an AFID=MSN parameter in the URL), and the other three go to pages on the Live Search site with "review" type descriptions and ads running on the right.
My take on that is that some ultra cynical person will probably come along and say that those look like doorway pages on an MFA site.
[edited by: Marcia at 12:40 pm (utc) on Sep. 17, 2008]
I've got somewhat of a suspicion with a rough glance though, and will take a few searches and check out the top ten sites, to see whether they've got ODP listings or not, and/or whether or not they have other "trusted" or high value type of link profiles.
>>8 of the first ten spots
To be really fair, every search engine gets gamed, without exception. Is it only the same webmaster with different sites for the same KW phrases, or the same site that has all those pages listed? Does it look like on-page manipulation, or IBLs to the pages?
And does the site(or sites) have an ODP listing?
[edited by: Marcia at 3:38 am (utc) on Sep. 18, 2008]
He / she had 8 of the first ten spots for the terms I've tested.
I'm seeing a lot of old sites show up high in the results. Interestingly, for one topic a site was returned that I'd never seen before, is extremely relevant yet not very popular in terms of traffic or links. That's excellent.
Not really seeing any DMOZ influence, it's mainly old sites as well as some sites that are also gaming Google through link-buying.
I don't think the ODP lists one page websites. This is something I reported to msndude two years ago. They manually cleaned up the results until the next refresh of data. This webmaster does not go after the super-popular terms, but the next level down. Terms that are likley to return tens of thousands of visitors a day.