Just noticed that the folks over at MSN Search have started a survey of searchers. They’re obviously interested in gaining a better feel of who searches where, when and why, which is a ‘good thing’. From my point of view as a webmaster, MSN Search is the best in terms of fast indexing and potential ranking of new sites. In terms of their actual results, some searches are good and others return super spammy results. Anyway, head over and help them out.
Here’s a couple of the questions:
- What is your Primary Search Engine, the search engine you use most? (I answered Google)
- How many searches do you conduct on Google in the average week?
- Which of the following describes why you use Google the most?
- Which of the following search web sites or search engines have you also used in the past 30 days?
- Why do you use these additional search engines?
Then they ask questions specifically about your preferred engine. Looks like they’re pretty serious about improving.
So last week I was working on a brand new hobby site. After I had a few pages up I though it would be a good time to alert the bots to my new site. So at 15:30 I did the rounds and dropped my URL at MSN, Yahoo and Google.
The site still has not seen a visit from either Yahoo Slurp or Googlebot as yet 3 days on. What about MSNbot? Well they visited the site at 16:07:59, I kid you not!
I know there have been complaints about Slurp being slow, but has anybody else been getting this level of service from MSN?
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal (and repeated by Reuters), AOL are set to announce a deal with MSN that would see them drop Google Search and Advertising in order to replace them with MSN Search and ads powered by the recently introduced MSN AdCenter.
“Time Warner Inc is closing in on a deal with Microsoft Corp. to team up on an online advertising service to compete with Google Inc, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the talks. The paper said the two companies were now focusing on a deal that would combine their advertising-related assets, with little or no money changing hands. It said they expected to reach an agreement before the end of the year, but that it was still possible that Time Warner’s America Online unit could strike a deal with competitor Google instead. Time Warner has been holding talks with both Microsoft and Google over AOL, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters and other media.”
If this comes to fruition there will be a lot of SEOs scrambling to optimize for MSN. Typically AOL visitors convert well, purchasing at stores and clicking ads – which is motivation enough to get good rankings at MSN Search. This is great news for the industry as a whole. If this deal actually pans out there will be a much more level playing field, and much more choice for webmasters.
There’s been lots of discussion in the last few weeks about the activity of MSNbot. I’ve noticed a massive increase in the frequency this bot visits my sites, often spidering every single page every day of the week.
I have no problem with MSNbot (or Googlebot & Slurp) spidering my content. I agree with Mikel deMib Svendsen’s comments on WebmasterRadio that there is a symbiotic relationship at work where we allow search engines to spider and index our content in return for traffic and leads. The problem with MSNbot’s hyperactive activity is that it doesn’t seem to matter how often it spiders a page, they never get added to MSN Search index!
Fortunately there is a workaround. According to MSN Search’s webmaster help page you just need to add the following to your robots.txt file:
The crawl delay is specified in seconds – this example will slow down MSNbot to 100 requests per day, which will certainly help conserve bandwidth on larger sites. However, I and others still want to know why (even after so much bot activity) pages do not get added to the index at MSN Search!
If you have any questions about MSN Search then get over to the discussion at SEO Chat where MSN Search reps will be posting answers to your questions.