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Old 04-07-2006   #1
MichelZ
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What Factors Please The MSN Search Algorithm?

I noticed that my 'smiley' sites dropped rankings last few months within MSN Search. Many of them even totally vanished which had very dominating rankings in the past. Most of my sites were ranked top-5 or 1st page! At the moment I have only few sites ranked well. All of my sites have basicly same content, layout, etc. but each one targeting specific keyword. Each site was therefore also ranked high for that particular keyword!

Regarding my knowledge the following algorithms were always important for MSN:

- MSN likes keywords in domain;
- Number of backlinks plays a role for a certain amount;
- MSN is grazy about keywords in 'title' of site, but also likes keywords in 'headers'!
- Also number of times same keyword has been used within content plays a role.

At the moment I am working on all my sites again in order to get my high rankings back, therefore wondering what regarding you opinion MSN Search most important algorithms are at this time!!

Preferrable, ONLY reply to my thread when you are more or the less an expert on MSN Search SEO. Your experience with Google and/or Yahoo SEO will not help me directly (although MSN copies concepts of Google/Yahoo).

I need to figure out how MSN Search ranks sites right now & where MSN crawlers look at in particular!


Many thanks in advance!
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Old 04-07-2006   #2
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Quote:
Preferrable, ONLY reply to my thread when you are more or the less an expert on MSN Search SEO.
Well, here's hoping that Erik Selberg turns up this week.
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Old 04-07-2006   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
Well, here's hoping that Erik Selberg turns up this week.
He's the MSN expert?
What's his username here?

Last edited by MichelZ : 04-07-2006 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 04-07-2006   #4
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Quote:
He's the MSN expert?
MIchelZ, I was just kidding! He's actually one of the head honchos on the MSN Search team - and they don't tell.

It makes it kind of hard to ask for only "expert" advice because many don't admit to considering themselves experts, others are not experts, and then there are those who proclaim and present themselve as being experts - which may or may not be the case. Then there are those who may be experts but aren't willing to divulge what they've seen to work.

You started with a good list, and MSN does seem to strike a good balance between the different elements, though it seems that value of IBLs is becoming a bit more important.

MSN SERPs update frequently and there are big fluctuations regularly, so it's like trying to hit a moving target. The way I've approached MSN (who I love! - I love everything Microsoft) - is to try to put semantically diverse content and page copy in the sites, with broad, semantically rich vocabulary usage, using synonyms freely - and user friendly, clear internal navigation.
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Old 04-08-2006   #5
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Content Matters

Here is how I see it

On competitive or semi competitive terms the value of each in ranking seems to be

Google
Links are a 8.5
Content is a 1.5 (with enough links content can be a zero)

Yahoo
Links are a 7
Content is a 3

MSN
Links are about a 5
Which puts Content about a 5

Now it is no secret that due to this SEO for MSN is Much Easier then the others, of course Yahoo is easier then Google. So this approach is more open to spam, um I mean planned seo techniques so it has a weakness there but in many instances I have found that MSN gives better results then Google on similar search. Search Google you find big companies, search MSN you find more general information.

To me this is what the user most wants to see. When I type in a broad term I am info gathering mode if I want Raddison.com I will look for raddison hotels not hotels, etc.

Cutting to the chase to optimize for MSN FORGET what the experts spout daily like, key word density does not matter, meta tags don't matter, alt image tags don't matter, etc. With terms that are not very competitive MSN is VERY sensitive to on page factors and really still weights them in even highly competitive areas.

So to optimize for MSN pay attention to Key word phrases (specificly getting them in the right order), use good description and title tags, good h1 and h2 tags, keyword tags don't hurt so toss em in, just link title tags, etc. In any particular niche if you run multiple domains make two pages for a term, give each a few links (not connected) use different densities on each one and split test your results. Best to pick some VERY easy term to do this with may be even make one up.

I have found density to be important for MSN but also found what works best varies by niche. So in one niche 2% may rock and 7% make get you nuked as over use but in the next one 7% may be awesome. So fiddle with it to get the best results.

Jack Spirko

Last edited by Marcia : 04-08-2006 at 07:06 PM. Reason: No sig URLs, please.
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Old 04-08-2006   #6
fulton savage
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I recently revamped a site that was getting nearly no traffic other than from a few links. This site now gets a few hundred visitors a day from MSN. The first 3 words of my title tag are the phrase that's bringing them in. MSN has always favored title tags, and that hasn't changed.
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Old 04-08-2006   #7
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Fulton,

I agree 100% with you. The title tag with MSN is probally the most important on page factor. My only caution is that people should not therefore ignore the other factors,
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Old 04-10-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
MIchelZ, I was just kidding! He's actually one of the head honchos on the MSN Search team - and they don't tell.

It makes it kind of hard to ask for only "expert" advice because many don't admit to considering themselves experts, others are not experts, and then there are those who proclaim and present themselve as being experts - which may or may not be the case. Then there are those who may be experts but aren't willing to divulge what they've seen to work.

You started with a good list, and MSN does seem to strike a good balance between the different elements, though it seems that value of IBLs is becoming a bit more important.

MSN SERPs update frequently and there are big fluctuations regularly, so it's like trying to hit a moving target. The way I've approached MSN (who I love! - I love everything Microsoft) - is to try to put semantically diverse content and page copy in the sites, with broad, semantically rich vocabulary usage, using synonyms freely - and user friendly, clear internal navigation.
Thanks Marcia!
Sorry, what do you mean by "semantically diverse content and page copy in the sites"? What is page copy?
If I understood you correclty, then MSN loves synonyms of main to target keyword in my onpage content, title, Hx, etc.?
I did this already to certain level in the past! You think by updating my sites with more & different synonyms of my main keyword it might do the trick?
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Old 04-10-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fulton savage
I recently revamped a site that was getting nearly no traffic other than from a few links. This site now gets a few hundred visitors a day from MSN. The first 3 words of my title tag are the phrase that's bringing them in. MSN has always favored title tags, and that hasn't changed.
So you changed your 'title' tag?
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Old 04-10-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjspirko
So to optimize for MSN pay attention to Key word phrases (specificly getting them in the right order), use good description and title tags, good h1 and h2 tags, keyword tags don't hurt so toss em in, just link title tags, etc. In any particular niche if you run multiple domains make two pages for a term, give each a few links (not connected) use different densities on each one and split test your results. Best to pick some VERY easy term to do this with may be even make one up.
Thanks Jack!

Regarding key word phrases & getting them in the right order -- Can you give me here a short example using key word 'free emoticons' as my main keyword to target in order to understand you better?

Most of what you mentioned, I did in the past for all my sites and that's why I received for several months 1st page rankings I guess!

Just wondering what I can do now (what I need to change/add to my sites) in order to get back again my 1st page MSN rankings?

Last edited by MichelZ : 04-10-2006 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 04-10-2006   #11
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Cool

Fulton; I agree with you on this, the sites I have setup have been performing well this way.
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Old 04-12-2006   #12
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Michael,

Using that term would be as simple as using it. The key would be though to use a tool like wordtracker and find phrases containing it. Don't use my terms here they are only for an example and have no basis in fact I am using them simply to illustrate an example for you.

Say I wanted to target free emoticons in word tracker I may find that longer phrases that use this term MAY INCLUDE (again this is a gues do your own research)

download free emoticons
find free emoticons
the best free emoticons

I may then target all three on my page to create a contigency plan. Say I fail to get a good rank for the broad term "free emoticons" but land "find free free emoticons" and "the best free emoticrons" I still have a win on my hands because I combined the small term with a few larger ones.

Now onto split testing if I had two domains that fit this niche I might make a second version doing the same thing but with different content. In that second one I would use a slightly higher or lower key word density. I would then gauge which worked better. This works on all engines but MSN is most prone to take on page content to a higher weight so that is why I bring it up here.

Does that help?

Jack
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Last edited by Chris Boggs : 04-12-2006 at 12:00 PM. Reason: second "strike" this thread. No signature links per forum FAQ.
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Old 04-14-2006   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjspirko
Michael,

Using that term would be as simple as using it. The key would be though to use a tool like wordtracker and find phrases containing it. Don't use my terms here they are only for an example and have no basis in fact I am using them simply to illustrate an example for you.

Say I wanted to target free emoticons in word tracker I may find that longer phrases that use this term MAY INCLUDE (again this is a gues do your own research)

download free emoticons
find free emoticons
the best free emoticons

I may then target all three on my page to create a contigency plan. Say I fail to get a good rank for the broad term "free emoticons" but land "find free free emoticons" and "the best free emoticrons" I still have a win on my hands because I combined the small term with a few larger ones.

Now onto split testing if I had two domains that fit this niche I might make a second version doing the same thing but with different content. In that second one I would use a slightly higher or lower key word density. I would then gauge which worked better. This works on all engines but MSN is most prone to take on page content to a higher weight so that is why I bring it up here.

Does that help?

Jack
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Thank you so much Jack!
But is it not better to use synoniems as keywords for 'free emoticons' like 'emoticons', 'smileys', 'free smileys', etc. instead of

- download free emoticons
- find free emoticons
- the best free emoticons

If I also get ranked high for 'free smileys', 'emoticons', etc. using the same site then my traffic will be much higher. For example 'download free emoticons' will not give many extra visitors though keyword 'free emotions' will give me enough visitors!

Or this is not how I suppose to do SEO & to make site targetting 'free emoticons' succesful? With other words, when someone targets 'free emoticons' then he suppose to use only longer search terms like 'download free emoticons' besides 'free emoticons' etc. and NOT synoniems like 'free smileys' in content?

Thanks again!
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Old 04-17-2006   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelZ
All of my sites have basicly same content, layout, etc.

Maybe they finally got around to figuring that out and adjusted your rankings accordingly.

It's good to have all of this insight into the ranking factors on MSN, but really if all of your sites have the "same content, layout etc." with the only changes being in the keywords, I don't think your problem is going to be fixed by changing a keyword in your title.

Some sites get away with it for a long time and you will find many examples of high-ranking websites that are near-duplicates of other sites. But they are getting busted little by little, which is a good thing in my opinion. We used to have mirrored domains until Yahoo started removing our pages from its index awhile back. ...a pain in the butt to get reincluded and your site has to be squeaky clean.

My advice to you, although I am not "an MSN expert" (although my sites do tend to rank better on MSN than any other SE) is to write original copy for each site.

Ohh and you asked what "copy" was. Website copy refers to the words on the page, how they are used, how the language appeals to the reader, etc. Basically it's what users read.

Regards,

Everett
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Old 04-18-2006   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelZ
So you changed your 'title' tag?
Well I changed everything, but make sure the phrase you want is what starts your title tag. Forget about putting your website's name up there.

Put this same phrase in all your other places, and make sure it represents some density in the content of your homepage, 3-4% might be good enough.
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Old 04-18-2006   #16
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By the way, how many pages are there on the site in question?

Quote:
All of my sites have basicly same content, layout, etc. but each one targeting specific keyword.
And all the sites have the same number of pages?

Last edited by Marcia : 04-18-2006 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 04-20-2006   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
By the way, how many pages are there on the site in question?

And all the sites have the same number of pages?
Thanks Marcia!
Yes, basisly 1 page (= landingspage)!

Last edited by Marcia : 04-20-2006 at 03:58 AM. Reason: URL not necessary.
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Old 04-20-2006   #18
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Mike, having a "site' is important with MSN (as with all engines) - one page for a domain won't do it. How would you optimize the internal navigation?
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Old 05-01-2006   #19
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Something I came across today has got me a bit confused.

Microsoft web site developers actually utilize KEYWORD meta tags within (the former) Bcentral site.

Go here:

http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/hub.mspx

<meta name="keywords" content="small business, small business solutions, online marketing, web hosting service, microsoft small business">

This raises some questions:

1. If the KW META tag is no longer valid, why would MS site engineers use it?

2. Are MS site engineers stupid?

3. Is MS using third-party site developers that are stupid?

4. Or, is the KW META tag making a comeback?

Just found it interesting....
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Old 05-02-2006   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteBKay
<meta name="keywords" content="small business, small business solutions, online marketing, web hosting service, microsoft small business">
Pete - First of all, I'd bet that Bill Gates doesn't know how to optimize a page. I would imagine that there are many in Microsoft that don't have a clue about SEO either. And I don't think that Microsoft is sending memos around saying "change the meta tags on the directory page; we've just changed our search algo." Smart or "stupid" doesn't have much to do with it.

I don't think that anybody is looking seriously at the meta keywords tag for ranking purposes... but glancing at the tag sometimes provides a clue about what's on someone's mind regarding ranking the page.

In this case, we're looking at a PageRank 9 page whose title and business name is "Microsoft Small Business Center." The phrase "small business" also appears in html text throughout the page. You'd expect that page to rank well for [small business] across the major engines, and it does. Rankings are...

MSN (8), Google (7), Yahoo (3)

Now, let's look at [small business solutions], the next phrase in that meta keywords list. The word "solutions" does not appear on the page. Here are the rankings...

MSN (22), Google (1), Yahoo (2)

The Google cache is hard to read because absolute css positioning on the page blocks part of the framing content, but I'm assuming it says that the word "solutions" points to the page.

In any event, we can't accuse Microsoft of passing memos about the meta keywords tag.

We can guess from this example that maybe Microsoft doesn't weight inbound anchor text when the word is not on the page as much as Google and Yahoo do.

You can make guesses about whether Google and Yahoo are looking at that keywords tag, but I don't think they care.
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