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  1. SEO Chat Skiller (1500 - 1999 posts)

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    Exclamation Ask Questions Directly to the MSN Search Development Team


    As many of you know, back in late May, I interviewed the MSN Search Team through some contacts I made in NYC. That interview is located here - seomoz.org/articles/msn-search-interview.php

    Recently, I spoke again with my contact and we discussed getting questions directly from the webmaster community to submit to the search team for answers. To that end, I'm taking questions in this thread which the MSN search team will answer over the next 2-3 weeks (as their schedules permit).

    So - Go for it. Ask your tough questions! You may get a great response directly from the horse's mouth.

    Please keep questions relatively civil and on-topic. Thanks!

    Comments on this post

    • dazzlindonna agrees : Good job getting this to happen, Rand!
    • Mano70 agrees : Well done!
    • GeoffreyF67 agrees : Great interview!
    • alloemseo agrees : Thanks! Hopefully this ends up being very insightful!
    • longcall911 agrees : great work randfish
    CEO & Co-founder of SEOmoz
  2. #2
  3. Contributing User
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    MSN team,

    First of all, thank you for participating. The one thing I have noticed and appreciated about MSN is their willingness to share and be open to talking with the seo world.

    Now, on to my first question. Personalization is a big buzz-word in the search engine space. Does MSN consider personalized search results to be an important thing to tackle in the future?

    Finally, one lead-in story and another question. When I went to the N.O. WMW conference, I went up to a sweet boy at the MSN booth and asked him what I (or we) could do to help promote the new MSN search engine. The poor boy was at a complete loss as to what to say. I encouraged him by mentioning that some of us want to encourage competition and we would like to have some ideas on how best to promote MSN, such as putting the MSN search bar on our sites. He thought that was a good idea, but he still had no idea what else to say. I then saw these funny looking things on the counter (shrink-wrapped packages) and asked what they were. He said MSN t-shirts. I said, "Well, now that's ONE way to promote MSN!" My point is...lots of us do want to encourage users to try your product. We would like help from you to give us ideas on how best to do that. So this question is...Can you give us good, fun, innovative ideas on ways we can help spread the word about MSN search?
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    EGOL
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    Great! I like this Randfish and MSN.

    I would like to hear how they describe what it takes to make a successful site. Not a site that is out to game the engines but given that I have a site with superb content that I want to share with others what advice do they have for me as a webmaster so that my site can get the level of attention that it deserves.

    I'd like to hear straight from the source what they efforts they think that a webmaster should employ. Where should a webmaster spend limited resources? The role of SEO, the role of advertising on other sites, the role of content creation.

    I think that this info is great for newbies but they might have a revelation for experienced webmasters as they probably think about these things differently than I do.

    In particular, how does a brand new website get any respect? It could have great content but nobody links to it. What should I do to get exposure for my long efforts and investments. IMO MSN gives new sites a better chance than Yahoo and Google. There are some fantastic new sites with great content that are playing catch up to old sites with stale and shoddy content. Advice here would be very valuable to the owners of new sites.
    Last edited by EGOL; Jul 5th, 2005 at 04:53 PM.
    * "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Mark Twain
    * "Free advice isn't worth much. Cheap advice is worth even less." EGOL
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  7. SEO Chat Skiller (1500 - 1999 posts)

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    Donna & EGOL -

    These are fantastic questions. I think they'll be thrilled to see them. This project currently stands on the following logistics. I'll take questions from SEOChat (this thread specifically), add them to some additional questions I have, try to choose the best and most representative ones, then submit them to the legal team at MSN, who'll pass them to the search guys, review their responses and pass it back to me for publication.

    MSN being part of Microsoft means that there's quite a bit of legal issues to deal with, but I think we can work around it without incident.

    I'll share some of the questions I personally want to ask:

    1. Can you give a good explanation of the new MSN Ranknet? Does it rely on a specific type of neural network and if so, is a private training algorithm in place? Can you give any specifics or information as to why this new technology improved the relevancy of results so rapidly after its introduction?

    2. Collaborative filtering has become an exceptionally hot topic in the last year. Is MSN planning to use this technology in web search? How do you see it applications becoming involved in the field?

    3. MSN seems particularly focused on helping the blog and Internet communities with their engine. Do you have new developments, a blog search engine, or any other products that appeal to the blogosphere?

    4. Is MSN interested in using lots of human input in perfecting the search results? Or are you attempting to rely fully on machine algorithms? Will MSN ever manually rank results - in other words, hard code them into the SERPs?
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  9. SEO Chat Skiller (1500 - 1999 posts)

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    I usually don't beg, but this thread really needs more replies. If we don't have questions for the people creating the search technology, then what are we doing here?!

    BTW - Thanks to TW & SERoundtable for linking to this thread - much appreciated.
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    EarlGrey
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    I have a question for them please.
    Can you find out why there is only a few visitors come from a no.1 listing in msn when google brings tons for the same term please?
    Can you also ask them what is the most efficient way to get 50`000 page spam sites indexed into msn?
    Thanks very muchly Randy.
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  13. Free the SB
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    Good job Rand...and thanks MSN:

    My questions parrot two above from EGOL and DazzlinDonna.

    1. For high ranking I detect a focus on titles, domain names, and anchor text. Are these areas on which to focus for high ranking in MSN?

    2. For such a powerful company with such a powerful brand name I'm amazed at the miniscule traffic MSN delivers. How are you working to expand MSN's presence in the world of search?

    Dave
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    Questions for MSN


    Will MSN "pre-announce" updates in the manner of Yahoo?

    Might MSN offer an Ad Sense alternative in the future?
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    Are there any plans to provide access to the search results through an API like Google has done but with less limitations?

    G-Man
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  19. <- Solan Gundersen
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    I'm surpriced some of these questions haven't been asked (because it's always a discussion about them).

    1. Do MSN use or weight keywords used in meta name="keywords"?
    2. Do MSN put weight into Hx-tags?
    3. I'll often see websites with good (X)HTML ranking well in MSN, are semantic code and clean HTML (read CSS-design) which follows webstandards rewarded more in MSN than in ex. Google?
    4. Do MSN read and understand CSS?
    5. Do MSN put the same weight into <b> vs. <strong> and <i> vs. <em>?
    6. Do MSN put weight into alt-tags?
    7. Do MSN put weight into the title attribute?
    8. In MSN guidelines it says that static pages are best, but I see MSN indexing url's including sessionid's. So my question is, does it matter really?
    9. Is MSN able to understand javascript?
    10. There are many pages that are using 302-redirects to count clicks on links, how do MSN weight a 302-redirect link compared to a regular link?
    11. Can MSN index Flash and follow Flash links? If not, will they?

    Comments on this post

    • rmccarley agrees : Yea, that's the stuff!
    Last edited by Mano70; Jul 6th, 2005 at 05:08 PM.
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    Google has claimed in the past that automated tools degrade the user experience because they're such a hit on their bandwidth and network. Is MSN having any problems with automated tools yet and do they have any plans in the future to limit them like Google and the other search engines seem to have done?

    G-Man
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  23. Resident Black Hat
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    It was mentioned in the interview that they like to use ranking tools like altavista. Does MSN have any plans to release a ranking tool like this? If so, can they comment on ways to stop abuse like we've seen with PageRank and AltaVista?

    G-Man
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    Wow nice score rand, you will never see them from google or yahoo. Sometimes I think they dont anyone to make another website again.

    1. I was curious what their stand on affiliate marketing is? Do they feel that quality affiliate marketng sites are a part of the Internet or they take away from the user experience?

    2. Also do they have any plans to rollout some type of spam reduction plan that would help reduce spam from search results? Something like that would definitely help gain market share, i mean look at AOL all they do is talk about reducing spam and they still have people paying $23 for dial up

    3. What would they consider to be the most important factor they use in determining the relevance of a website besides who links to that website.

    4. Have they considered hiring a respectable and quality SEO firm as a consultant to see how they can award quality SEO work and also better detect unethical techniques (no offense to the blackhats)

    5. How would they rates themselves in regards to the product they are putting out right now in comparison to a year ago and how much better do they feel they will be a year from now?

    Thats all I can think of for now. Im sure I can get alot more
    Last edited by dougedoug; Jul 6th, 2005 at 02:14 PM.
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    yeah, with regards to affiliate marketing, do they have a problem with "thin" affiliate pages? That is, those sites that have one page simply to satisfy the Google requirement of having a page if you're an affiliate...

    No offense taken dougedoug

    G-Man
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    I really dont see how this is not flooded with questions, I personally have seen my msn traffic triple over the last month. I guess people are too busy getting backlinks.
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