Natural Search Blog

MSN Search vs Google vs Yahoo!

MarketingProfs has published my article: “How Does MSN Search Stack Up to Google and Yahoo?.” This one is different from my last week’s article on MarketingProfs (“What Web Marketers Must Know About the New MSN Search“), in that it’s a side-by-side comparison of the top three search engines — essential stats, tolerance levels for “worst practices” etc. You need to be a premium MarketingProfs subscriber to read it. (If you’re not, it’s time to open up your wallet! Their premium article library and the virtual seminars are well worth it…)

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Catalog Age article: Microsoft is Gunning for Google

My article, “Gunning for Google,” has just been published in this month’s issue of Catalog Age magazine. As of today, it is now live on their site. Enjoy!

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New MSN Search officially launches. What does it mean for you?

Microsoft officially launched their new MSN Search today, as anticipated. Bill Gates makes the announcement on the MSN home page with a prominently positioned “Letter from Bill Gates,” complete with photo. (although I prefer these photos of him).

This is good news for marketers. Microsoft’s new search technology offers a new channel for reaching your potential customers. Taking advantage of this new channel isn’t hard, either. The tried-and-true search engine optimization tactics work as well if not better on the new MSN Search as they do on Google and Yahoo. These tactics include keyword-rich title tags, keyword-rich body copy, links from ‘important’ sites and keyword-rich text in the links from those sites.

In my just-published article on MarketingProfs, I reveal some critical factors for success in the new MSN Search, including:

You’ll need to be a MarketingProfs premium subscriber to read the article. A version of this article is coming out in this month’s issue of Catalog Age magazine. It’s not online yet on Catalog Age’s site, but I’ll post a blog entry once it is.

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MSN and Yahoo! sneaking up on Google

A new study on users’ search engine preferences from Keynote found that MSN and Yahoo! have gained favor with users since Spring 2004:

Indeed, the latest survey determined that 81% of Yahoo! users and 61% of MSN users say they would go back to those sites in the future. In May, 72% of Yahoo! users and just 55% of MSN users said the same. Dr. Bonny Brown, Keynote Director of Research and Public Services, notes, “MSN’s recent separation of sponsored results from actual Web results greatly improved user perceptions of MSN search results. This move has increased the loyalty of MSN users and improved perceptions of advertising and sponsored results on the MSN site.”

Although Google is still the favorite, MSN and Yahoo! are catching up. For those who equate natural search optimization with Google optimization: stop. It’s time to take MSN and Yahoo! seriously. Very seriously. They are distinctly different engines; different marketing channels really.

As distinct channels, astute marketers will execute different strategies and tactics for each engine. By that I don’t mean engine-specific doorway pages. I mean things like developing different ‘use cases’ based on the unique user profiles of MSN users, versus Yahoo! users, versus Google users. And then developing unique keyword portfolios, unique landing pages with unique offers, etc.

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Ready for Microsoft’s new MSN Search?

Rumor has it that the MSN Search beta will make its official debut on on February 1st. The source (a moderator at SearchEngineWatch Forums) seems credible, so I would put some stock in the claim.

Here’s a sneak peek at what will probably be MSN’s new home page layout with the new MSN Search integrated in (including the “Near Me” feature).

I’ve written an article about the new MSN Search technology — a kind of a “how-to” for marketers — for Catalog Age and for MarketingProfs. It will be published within the next several weeks. I’ll let you all know when it’s available via this blog.

Exciting times ahead…

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MSN Search embraces wikis as a customer communication channel

A few days before Christmas, Microsoft’s MSN Search team announced their MSN Search Wiki. The word quickly spread to blogs like ResearchBuzz, SearchEngineWatch Blog, and Google Blogoscoped. Of the major search engines, MSN Search is the only one to employ wikis as a way to encourage customer participation in the product development process. Hats off to Microsoft for showing such leadership!

A wiki, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is essentially an interactive website that any visitor can edit, with a view to improving or enhancing it. In other words, a “website run by the community.” It’s not uncommon for entire websites to be built by web visitors. A great example is the Wikipedia, an entire encyclopedia written by and maintained by its online visitors.

I’ve just made some contributions to MSN Search’s wiki, including:

Come on everyone, join in and help Microsoft make a killer search engine!

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Watch out Google, Yahoo! Here comes MSN Search!

MSN Search BetaToday Microsoft announced the launch of the beta of their new MSN Search, using their own technology that no longer relies on Yahoo! Search Technology. Formal launch of the new search service on is slated for January.

Although functionality is currently somewhat limited and its relevancy algorithm isn’t up to par with Google’s (in my humble opinion), it is clear that Microsoft have great plans in store for their new baby. The possibility of integrating MSN Search with existing, increasingly web enabled, Microsoft products is obvious. MSN Search is already in beta for integration into MSN Messenger and there is talk of using it with wireless applications.

The question that should be on everyone’s mind is: “What does this mean for search engine optimization?” And more specifically, what steps will you have to take to make sure your MSN Search rankings are as good as your Google results? With MSN controlling a 14% share of the search engine market, this is an important question to answer. So let me take a stab at a preliminary answer for you…

First, until MSN Search more fully indexes the web and launches formally to its user base, there is little point in losing any sleep over the issue. Even then, it will take some time for Microsoft to come close to challenging Google’s dominance. Although if Steve Ballmer has anything to say about it, that will happen soon. “We will catch up, we will surpass,” Ballmer was quoted as saying recently at Microsoft’s annual meeting. Empty words? I don’t think so.

Secondly, no rushed changes should be made that could endanger any of your existing rankings in Google and Yahoo!

Finally, talk to the experts to start planning for optimization of MSN Search. Even if you know a few things about search optimization, you don’t know what you don’t know. Your current arsenal of SEO techniques may not work as well on the new engine, and getting qualified advice early could save you a lot of the time and expense incurred with going down a wrong path.
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“MSN Bombing” shows Microsoft’s a follower

Guess who’s #1 in MSN’s new, not-yet-finished search engine for “miserable failure.” Yep, it’s Dubbya. Specifically, his biography page on (In case you’re curious, there’s no mention of “miserable” or “failure” anywhere on his page). Gee, that’s just like Google. Good job, Microsoft… not!

With all the talk about “Google bombing” being bad for the Web and how Google seems to be working to stamp out the effect of blogs, here comes another me-too engine blindly going down the same silly path, letting link text on its own, mainly from blogs, and without any contributing “on-page factors,” dominate the ranking algorithm.

Last year I wrote about how Microsoft is gunning for Google, and they may have a shot at it. Well, after test-driving Redmond’s latest incarnation of the MSN search preview, I have serious doubts they’ll be able to pull it off.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on Microsoft. After all, Yahoo!, Wisenut, and the new engine Snap all rank George W. #1 for “miserable failure”. Teoma ranks him #3. So all the major engines take link text into account — BIG TIME. Hmm… I wonder why we don’t ever hear talk about “Yahoo bombing”?

Personally, I don’t think Hillary Rodham Clinton deserved to be #2, but there’s no point arguing with a behemoth.

miserable failure search on MSN

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